According to the Italian Law, adoptions are divided into National and International Adoptions.
The National adoption procedure requires the submission of a special petition to the Juvenile Court which collects applications submitted by couples who are willing to adopt a minor, inserting them in a special list. The Italian Law provides the necessary requirements for adopting a minor are identified, and according to the provisions, are allowed to file the adoption petition only couples (different is the case of the stepchild adoption – shown below) who meet the conditions listed below:
- have been married or in a cohabitation relationship for at least 3 years;
- there must be an age difference of not less than 18 years and not more than 45 years between the adopting parents and the minor;
- the couple must not be separated and in possession of all the moral and economic means suitable to support and maintain the minor;
- the child must be in a state of abandonment (full adoption).
The above-mentioned elements require to be not only indicated but also proved in their existence, thus determining the need for social structures to carry out in-depth investigations as well as to offer psychological assistance to the adopting couple.
The Professional Assistance of a Lawyer aims to facilitate the described procedure in order to prevent the couple to incur in any errors and therefore complicate the judicial procedure for obtaining the decree of suitability by the Court.
Once issued, the decree is valid for a period of three years and the suitable parents are inserted in the Court’s lists according to criteria previously established as a result of the procedure and taking into account the couple’s own requests as well.
The International adoption is more expensive than the National adoption but, on the other hand, it can be carried out in more restricted timing. In order to not incur in negative experiences, also in this case it would be recommendable to appoint a Specialized Attorney who can liaise with one of International Adoption Associations listed in the competent Ministry. With the mediation of the said Association and the decree of suitability previously issued by the Juvenile Court with specific indication of international adoption, the adopting parents will choose the minor’s Country of origin and will be assisted in following the procedures provided by the foreign law system.
Adoption in particular cases
Moreover, the Italian Law regulates some “particular cases”, in which it is possible adopt if, for instance, the involved foster parents are related to the minor up to the sixth degree, or from a pre-existing stable and lasting relationship, when the minor is orphan of father and mother; or by the spouse when the minor is the child, natural or adopted, of the other spouse; or, furthermore, when the child is in the conditions indicated in article 3, paragraph 1, of the law of 5 February 1992, n. 104, and is an orphan of father and mother; finally, when there is the established impossibility of pre-adoptive custody. In these, inter alia, adoption is permitted even in the presence of natural children. In the mentioned adoption procedure, the consent of the adopting parent and of the foster child who has completed the fourteenth year of age is required.
On the other hand, if the adopted child is older than twelve years old he must be personally heard; if he is of a younger age, he has to be heard according to his capacity for discernment. In accordance with the Italian Law, “For the adoption, it is necessary the natural parent’s consent as well as the one of foster parent’s spouse. When the consent provided for in the first paragraph is denied, after hearing the interested parties, on the request of the adopting parent, the Court may also grant the adoption, if it deems the denial unjustified or contrary to the interest of the minor, unless the assent has been refused by natural parents or the spouse, if cohabitant, of the adopting parent.
Likewise, the Court can grant the adoption when it is impossible to obtain the consent for incapacity or unavailability of persons called upon to express it “(L. 184 of 1983).
Adoption of adults
In some cases, it is also possible to adopt an adult, if the legal conditions are met. In particular, the foster parent must be:
- at least 35 years old; however, in presence of special needs, the Court can also authorize the adoption even if the adopter has reached 30 years of age;
- 18 years older than the adult who he intends to adopt.
There are no maximum age limits, either for the adopter or for the adopted, even if it is required that the adopter does not have minor children. Furthermore, if in the above-mentioned cases professional assistance is only recommended, in this situation the attorney assistance is required by the law as well as all the involved parties’ consent. The application for adoption is submitted to the President of the Court of the place where the adopter is resident. The competent authority, having assumed the appropriate information, verifies:
- if all the lawful conditions have been fulfilled;
- if adoption is appropriate to the adopted.
With the consent of the Public Prosecutor, the President of the Court issues a decree deciding whether or not to give effect to the adoption. All the parties can appeal the said decision.