Italy is to recognize the adoption of a 12-year-old girl by the ex-wife of her biological mother in the first case of its kind in Milan.
This decision is the first ‘stepchild adoption’ for a same-sex couple in the country, ruling that the adoption of the child, completed in Spanish courts, should be recorded in Italy.
The couple, who are Italian, started a relationship in 1999 and decided to have a child through a donor in 2003.
While living together in the Canary Islands, where Spanish law allows same-sex marriage and adoptions, the couple married in a civil ceremony in 2009. The woman who was not the child’s biological mother legally adopted her in 2010.
Following the couple’s divorce in 2013, the adoptive mother unsuccessfully attempted to recognize the Spanish adoption in the Italian courts.
In a ruling on 11 December 2015, the Court of Appeal of Milan noted that the child, who is now 12 years old, lived with both parents for ten years from her birth.
Judges explained: ‘..she was raised by them, cared for and maintained by them and that she has obviously built stable and strong emotional and educational relationships with them.’
Both women, stated the judgment, ‘have realized the goal of shared parenting, as part of a family founded on the material and spiritual unity of women.’
The court ruled it was in the child’s best interests to ensure she could continue to enjoy the emotional investment of both women, who had assumed parental responsibility for her throughout her life.
Italy still lacks a civil unions or gay marriage law, so births to same-sex married couples are not officially recognized.
Currently, the Italian government is preparing a civil unions bill to allow same-sex couples many of the same rights as opposite-sex couples, including the right to adopt their partner’s children, as well as changes to pension and inheritance laws.
This follows a statement from the European Court of Human Rights in July 2015, which condemned Italy for failing to recognize and protect same-sex couples legally.