High cost deters Italians from overseas adoptions

Italian families are adopting fewer children from overseas because of the high cost and the lengthy time it takes for adoptions to be approved, according to a leading support group.

High cost deters Italians from overseas adoptions
There has been a steep fall in the rate of adoptions since 2010. Photo: Daniel Lobo

The Friends of Children Association (Ai.Bi) says there has been a steep fall in the rate of adoption since 2010 because it costs adoptive families too much money and takes too much time to complete the process.

“In the last five years we have seen a major fall in applications for adoption,” the association said in an article published by the daily Il Fatto Quotidiano.

Ai.Bi is holding an international convention in Gabicce Mare, near the northern city of Pesaro, to discuss the issue and find ways to increase the number of adoptions.

The Union for Italian Adoptive Families (Ufai) has joined the organization in calling for changes from the Italian government on speeding up the process and reducing the costs.

Ufai said the country’s economic crisis was not solely to blame for the fall in adoptions.

“Adoption is a path, a journey with a marvellous ending, but unfortunately the journey is not,” UFAI says on its website. 

“This is a tiring journey, a burden physically and financially with an uncertain outcome and often painful for families and especially for children.”

The organization called for greater transparency, a reduction in costs and a speedier bureaucratic process at a conference held at the end of July.

According to Il Fatto Quotidiano, parents can end up spending €35,000 to adopt a child from Russia, €30,000 for a Vietnamese child or €22,000 to adopt a child from Peru.

Statistics cited by Il Fatto Quotidiano said 4,130 children were adopted in Italy in 2010 but that number fell to 950 in 2014 and this year’s figures are expected to be even lower.

There are an estimated 150 million orphans in the world and the organization believes there should be fewer hurdles for parents who want to adopt a child.

In the most celebrated case, 48 Italian parents are still waiting to collect the 24 children they adopted from the Democratic Republic of Congo two years ago. In September 2013, the DRC government banned exit permits for adopted children effectively stopping them from departing for any other country.

“They are waiting for us and we are waiting for them, we are suspended in this very painful blockage, ” the parents said in a joint statement recently.

“There are so many children and so many families in Italy, France, the US, Belgium and other countries in this situation.” 

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Three stories of finding love in Italy that will restore your faith in romance

Valentine's Day has its roots in the Roman Empire, so what better way to celebrate than with some heartwarming real-life stories about Italian love.

Three stories of finding love in Italy that will restore your faith in romance
Holly and Gianluca on their wedding day in Capri. Photo: Private

“And that is … how they are. So terribly physically all over one another. They pour themselves one over the other like so much melted butter over parsnips. They catch each other under the chin, with a tender caress of the hand, and they smile with sunny melting tenderness into each other's face.”

This is what British author D.H Lawrence once wrote about Italy. We know the country has its problems, but you can't escape the romance, whether that be in Romeo and Juliet's Verona, on a street sign, like the one in Cinque Terre below, or the open displays of affection. It's no wonder that many of those who travel or move to Italy do so with a secret hope of starting their own Italian love story.

The Street of Love. Photo: bigskyred/Flickr

But as a foreigner, sometimes the idea of actually finding love in the most romantic of countries can seem as distant from reality as the many myths surrounding Italy's dating culture.

There are language and cultural barriers to contend with, plus additional fears based on the stereotype of Italians as cheating Lotharios.

However, it can be done, and here are three pairs of star-crossed lovers whose 'how we met' stories will make you want to book a flight to Italy right away.

Holly and Gianluca, who run a restaurant together in Capri

In 2013, I was travelling around Italy for a five week holiday. It was my first visit to Capri and on my second night, I found myself dining at Ristorante Michel’angelo. From the moment I walked in to Michel’angelo, I immediately felt comfortable, which as a solo Australian traveller I really appreciated.

Little did I know this meal would change my life forever.

The waiter, Gianluca (who I later learnt was the owner) had such a warm manner but could only speak a little English and I could only speak a little Italian. At the end of my meal, in my best Italian I asked for the bill several times and instead received dessert and limoncello. I thought to myself that he mustn't have understood me. All the other tables were paying their bills and leaving until I was the only person left in the restaurant.

Gianluca then placed his order pad on the table, explained that he had not yet eaten and cheekily asked me for a table for one. Finding it pretty amusing (and with a little limoncello courage), I got up and showed him to a table, lit the candle and took his order. After I placed the order with the chef, I joined his table and with the help of Google translate we laughed until the early hours of the morning.

Two weddings later (one in Capri and one in Sydney) and with two beautiful baby boys, we now run Michel’angelo together and share an appreciation for fantastic food, wine, family and a good laugh!

Laura Thayer, an American writer and art historian who lives with her husband, Lello, on the Amalfi coast

The way I met my husband is right out of a romance movie.

My mother had planned a holiday here in 2007 while I was at graduate school in the US, and I just knew I had to go along! I was studying art history at the time, so it made sense to come to Italy.

We came to the Amalfi coast on a week-long tour, which is when I fell in love with the architecture of the area … and our tour guide!

We did the long distance thing for quite a while, with a lot of back and forth, until we finally married in 2012. 

Besides the stereotypical meeting, we're a pretty atypical couple with our cultural and age differences. I didn't even know a word of Italian when we met. But fortunately, since he is a tour guide the language barrier wasn't an issue. It has been quite an unexpected adventure, but one I wouldn't change for anything. It's true … you never really know how a vacation might change your life! 

Alice Kiandra Adam, an Australian cook and food stylist, who lives with her husband, Leonardo and two children in Rome

I was a caterer and food stylist in Melbourne when I left in May 2005 for a year-long trip to Italy.

I had studied Italian at primary school, and again as an adult, and was enamoured with the Italian gastronomic landscape. I had sold the catering business I had with a friend, and with enough money in my back pocket I thought I'd go to Rome to really learn the language.

My first job was as a waitress in a restaurant in the Trastevere district. It was a totally memorable experience. At the pub next door, where we would go for a drink after our shift, I met Leonardo.

It feels like a cliché writing this, but when we met I was swept off my feet on the back of a white Vespa. So when I got to the end of my 12 months of course I wanted to stay.

Almost 11 years later and we have two children, Alberto, 7, and Emma, 6. It was after they were born that I decided to go back to working in the food sector. I missed the creativity, the markets and produce and just being in the kitchen. It has been a really slow road building up a business in Rome, but I now work with some great Italian and international photographers, teach and lead tours with Casa Mia, and have a lot of really great projects happening at Latteria Studio, which I share in Trastevere.

I love Australia, and wish it was (quite) a bit closer, but there is so much about Italy, and Europe, that stimulates, challeges and inspires me.

A version of this article was first published in February 2016.