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No adoption for 'racist' couples

Supreme Court ruling welcomed by politicians, associations

01 June, 16:30
No adoption for 'racist' couples (ANSA) - Rome, June 1 - Italian couples only interested in adopting white kids are not fit to become parents, the country's highest appeals court said on Tuesday. The Court of Cassation said a lower court in the Sicilian city of Catania had been wrong to approve a couple's desire to request children that weren't black or non-European.

It strongly indicated that couples making such requests should not be allowed to adopt at all. "In such cases, the judge must not only eliminate any specifications relating to the child's ethnicity, he or she must seriously consider whether such a request is compatible with someone's suitability to adopt," said Cassation Judge Maria Rosaria San Giorgio, who wrote the opinion. The court similarly ruled out the option of requests for "certain genetic characteristics". It pointed out that all children awaiting adoption already had a "profoundly difficult" past and therefore had a greater need than other kids for parents of "particular sensitivity". The judges stressed that social services should do everything possible to assist couples in welcoming a child that "does not look like them".

It said potential parents should be helped to address their fears that "problems of xenophobia will threaten the child's integration into local society and make it difficult for the child to adapt".

The case was raised at the Court of Cassation by a children's rights group, Amici dei Bambini (Ai.Bi, Friends of Children).

The organization has been battling for ten years to open up adoptions to children of all races, ever since a court in the central city of Ancona court said it was acceptable for a couple to rule out black kids.

Ai.Bi has long argued that couples treating kids as a "commodity" should not be allowed to adopt. The ruling was welcomed by sector association and politicians. The National Association of Adoptive and Foster Parents (ANFAA) stressed that parenting was about "love and education [...] not skin colour".

But ANFAA President Donata Novi Miucci acknowledged that some parents may be worried about raising children "in a hostile environment", an apparent reference to general incidents of racism and violence involving foreigners. "Unfortunately, certain indications in Italy in recent times are very worrying and do not help with this kind of social responsibility," she said. Cabinet Undersecretary Carlo Giovanardi said the decision was "correct".

"It takes into account the fact that an order by public authorities cannot be based on racial discrimination while also recognizing the complex procedures involved," he said. However, he said a couple's inclination to adopt from one country did not necessarily entail "a negative judgment on other countries". While countries such as Britain and the United States have a long history of dealing with in-country interracial adoption, in Italy the issue usually arises only in the course of international adoptions. Around 4,000 international adoptions take place each year in Italy, 60% of which involve kids from just five countries: Russia, Ukraine, Colombia, Ethiopia and Brazil. According to the last annual report of the Commission for International Adoptions, there has been a sharp drop in the number of adoptions from Vietnam, and a complete block on all adoptions from Nepal, Cambodia, Moldova and Bolivia.

photo: The Court of Cassation.

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