He wasn't allowed to be a father and nobody wanted to give her a home. These two were made just for each other.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on February 18, 2022. It has since been updated.
Luca Trapanese and his daughter Alba are just your typical run-of-the-mill single father and daughter... on the surface. But the journey that brought them together certainly isn't one. The 2-year-old blonde toddler and the 42-year-old Italian single dad first met when the former was just a few days old and had been put up for adoption since she had Down syndrome. Before Luca came into her life, she had already been rejected by 20 families who couldn't handle adopting a child with disabilities.
And that is where Luca came in like her knight in shining armor. Since he was 14, the single father had worked with a number of social service organizations, including A Ruota Libera Foundation, a group that provides assistance to children with Down syndrome. But his true dream was a bit different. He badly wanted to become a dad.
"I wanted to become a father, to sow my knowledge, my love, my affection in another creature. Currently I have forgotten that Alba has been adopted and for me it is not a foreign body,” he said in an interview (in Italian) with Bon Culture.
“A disabled child is not a second choice, but a conscious choice with respect to my vocation and my abilities,” he explained to Coccole Bimbi Journal. “I was not afraid of adopting a disabled child. It was an idea I had in the past years with my partner Eduardo, but then we separated."
"Since I was 14, I volunteered and worked with people with disabilities so I thought I had the right tools to do it, after the separation with my partner it was the option that prevailed for me. So I made a request in the special register that allows singles to adopt in special conditions," he added.
However, no matter his desire to adopt Alba, it was no walk in the park as adoption agencies usually look at "traditional families" over adopters that don't fit the conventional two-parent heterosexual relationship mold.
But this journey wasn't significant to Luca and the toddler alone. It was bigger than them as it made a bigger impact in his home country, Italy, where adoptions by homosexual couples are not allowed. Added to that, adoptions by single parents were only recently made easier. Speaking to the BBC, the 42-year-old father said that his story breaks many stereotypes about fatherhood, religion, and family, wide open.
He recalled, "I still wanted to be a dad (after separating from my partner), but in Italy, single parents still couldn't adopt. Then things changed and at the beginning of 2017, I could offer to adopt children. They told me that they would only give me children with illnesses, severe disabilities or behavioral problems, a child who had been rejected by all traditional families."
For Luca, that was his joy. "I completely agreed. Thanks to my personal experience, I knew I had the resources to deal with the problems the child had." And then he met Alba. "In July 2017 they called me and told me they had a girl for me, her name was Alba and she was 13 days old. She had Down syndrome," he recalled. "The mother had abandoned her at birth and [she] had been rejected by more than 20 families. I struggled to contain my joy. I said yes immediately."
The moment they met was a magical one. He knew that he had found his daughter. "When I held her in my arms, I was filled with joy. I felt that she was my daughter immediately. I knew I was ready to be her father," he said.
Now, two years later, the toddler is a happy two-year-old with a "very strong personality and can be very stubborn at times. She likes to play and dance all day," the father said. "She loves being with other people, so I take her to walk to the park, to museums or to work with me, which she loves."
Wanting to share his story, he penned it down in a book, Nata Per Te (Born for You), that was published last year. "Now I see a future for myself: I will spend the rest of my life with a girl I love and we will do many wonderful things together," he said, overjoyed.