Foster Care and Adoption in late 19th century Italy

As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
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Foster Care and Adoption in late 19th century Italy

Postby wiseguy203 » 24 Mar 2007, 19:35

Does anyone know how likely it was that another family member would take in a child born in 1886 to an unwed sister after the child was in foster care for a short time? Any idea whether this illegitimate child would have been given his mother's surname? We are doing research on a male relative we believe was in foster care long enough to receive one of those made up surnames, in this case Giacinto, which is the name of a flower and typical of the type of name given to kids in foster care. We also know the name of a woman that we believe retrieved him from foster care and raised him like a son. Indications are that this woman may have been an actual family member (an aunt). Any thoughts on the Italian culture of the time, and if this would have been acceptable to do? Thanks in advance.
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Re: Foster Care and Adoption in late 19th century Italy

Postby VaDeb » 12 Apr 2007, 20:38

Hi Wiseguy,

This topic of foundlings comes up frequently. If you search you will find some discussions on the general topic.

In case you didn't see it, here is an article from this site.

http://italiangenealogy.tardio.com/inde ... cle&sid=10

Do you have the birth act of the child you are asking about. It may have some clues.

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Re: Foster Care and Adoption in late 19th century Italy

Postby wiseguy203 » 13 Apr 2007, 00:33

Hi Debbie,

I did read that article and found it helpful. In fact, most everything I read adds a little more info to the mix. I've found this site and forum to be full of information as people ask questions and others respond to those questions. I've even tried to help out a couple of times where I could. I've requested the microfilm from LDS in Utah for the year and commune where I believe the birth in question took place. So, we shall see what if any additional information that yields. If nothing else, the search has been fun, and I've already found more information than the family I'm helping has found in the past 70 years. I'm looking forward to learning more and maybe one day solving this mystery as luckily I think we might have some information that will allow us to identify the mom in a round about way. We'll see. Stay tuned.

Ryan
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Re: Foster Care and Adoption in late 19th century Italy

Postby JohnArmellino » 13 Apr 2007, 02:22

Ryan - If you are searching the civil records, it's my experience that the birth records of foundlings (who are usually known as proietti) are not always kept with regular birth records, depending on the policy of the comune. I have often found them with the records known as atti di diversi, or separately as atti di proietti. In addition, you will occasionally find the record of a reclaimed foundling in the atti di diversi.
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Re: Foster Care and Adoption in late 19th century Italy

Postby wiseguy203 » 13 Apr 2007, 11:32

John...I will be searching the civil records. Thank you very much for the great heads up. At this point, I'm just hoping I'll be able to make sense out of 100 year old handwritten italian records :-)

My personal suspicion is that he may have been "reclaimed" by a family member so your tip is right on time! Thanks again.

Based upon what you are saying, it seems the commune would have possibly updated records over the course of someone's lifetime. I read something that gave me the impression that individuals had sort of a personal record on file over their lifetime, and that these records were kept together. Is that correct?

Ryan
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Re: Foster Care and Adoption in late 19th century Italy

Postby JohnArmellino » 13 Apr 2007, 14:07

Ryan - In my experience, I have never seen one set of records for a given individual kept in one "file". However, sometimes you will find marginalia written in the margin of a birth record, giving the individual's marriage and/or death information. And then there is the processetti, which were documents reguired by the comune before a couple could get married; these are invaluable collections of birth extracts of the couple to be married and death extracts, if any, of their parents and grandparents. The atti di diversi I mentioned are a collection of miscellaneous records, which might include births of foundlings, deaths away from home, adoptions, recognized foundlings (often years later, prior to a marriage), reclaimed foundlings, deaths of unknown persons, etc. Adoptions in my experience are rare, reserved for the well-to-do who might be concerned about inheritance. On the other hand, quasi-adoptions were relatively common. Foundlings, who were assigned a wet nurse at birth, often found themselves raised by that family. In your case, I would recommend starting with the birth record of the foundling, then checking the atti di diversi for any record of recognition and/or reclaimation. An examination of the various records of the foundling's life (marriage, births of children, etc.) may give you a clue as to whether that foundling had been raised by his or her wet nurse as a quasi-adoptive member of her family.
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Re: Foster Care and Adoption in late 19th century Italy

Postby wiseguy203 » 13 Apr 2007, 16:46

Thank you very much. Again, this is the type of information that will directly impact my research.
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Re: Foster Care and Adoption in late 19th century Italy

Postby wiseguy203 » 26 Apr 2007, 03:17

For anyone reading this thread....I searched the microfilm from Utah tonight and I was able to find the birth act of a foundling filed at the end of the list of births reported by married couples. So, there is hope ;-) Thanks to all for your help and suggestions.

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