In 2009, 57-year-old Gabriella and 69-year-old Luigi, of Casale Monferrato, Italy, decided to have a baby, and traveled abroad to undergo an advanced in-vitro procedure. In May 2010, Gabriella gave birth to a healthy baby daughter, and the couple made national headlines. They became known as the “grandparent parents”, and faced discrimination from people deeming them too old to take care of a baby. The two recall that, while they were still in the hospital after their daughter’s birth, someone alerted child services about their age and their ability to properly tend to the infant.
Luckily for them, there was no Italian law that prevented people over a certain age from having and raising children, so they were able to take the baby home and live a normal life. However, the joy of parenthood was short-lived, as in 2011, just 15 months after their daughter was born, the De Ambrosis were accused of “abandonment” for leaving the baby unsupervised for only a few minutes. What followed was a nightmare that continues to this day.
It all started one day, when Gabriella and Luigi left their daughter in the car seat of their car while they went inside the house to prepare her milk bottle. The car was parked right outside their home, so they kept an eye on her through the window the whole seven minutes it took to prepare the formula. That was apparently too long for an overzealous neighbor who must have called the police the moment he saw the couple go inside without the baby. Based on the neighbor’s testimony, the “grandparent parents” were charged with abandonment and soon appeared before a judge who declared the De Ambrosis unfit to take care of the baby, due to their age.
The elderly parents will never forget that moment in 2013, when the judge told them that their pregnancy was “the result of the distorted application of the enormous possibilities offered by progress in genetics” and that if the child remained in their care she would either wind up a young orphan, or be forced to take care of them due to their advanced age. But the humiliation was nothing compared to the pain of having their daughter removed from their custody and put up for adoption with a new family.
Gabriella and Luigi didn’t give up, but it would be another three years before their lawyer, Adriana Boscagli, managed to get the original court decision repealed and the charges of abandonment dropped. The favorable decision to Boscagli’s extraordinary appeal was read in June 2016, but it only gave the De Ambrosis the illusion that they would finally get their child back. It was a cruel hope that would once again be shattered by the justice system.