Adoption in France and Italy: A Comparative History of Law and Practice (Nineteenth to twenty-First centuries)

By Jean-François Mignot, Roger Depledge

Adoption law in France and Italy is quite similar, and since the 1990s, these two countries have been among those which adopt the largest numbers of children from abroad. But over a longer timescale, what are the similarities and differences in their adoption practices ? This article retraces the history of adoption law and practices in France and Italy since the nineteenth century. While adoption law in the two countries has followed a similar trajectory, the actual numbers of simple adoptions are very different, mainly because far fewer stepfamilies are formed after divorce in Italy than in France. By contrast, the number of full adoptions and the characteristics of the children concerned are similar in both countries. After facing a scarcity of domestic adoptable children, potential adopters have, since 2011, been confronted with a drop in the number of minors available for intercountry adoption. As a consequence, intercountry adoptees in France and Italy tend to be older, and more often have siblings and/or health problems or disabilities than in the past.


  • adoption
  • descent
  • divorce
  • international comparison
  • historical demography
  • France
  • Italy
Go to the article on