I used to pass through Caiannello when I was twenty, heading southwards from Rome. It is a hub to the hinterland, in the direction of Isernia, Campobasso, Matera, and then on to Puglia. Now I’m driving up from Naples to meet Luca and Alba. When Emi asked me to go and take photographs of Luca Trapanese, a forty-year- old man who decided to adopt a girl with Down syndrome, I real- ised I was the only person on the peninsula who did not know their story. This virginity helped me retain the astonishment I needed. I phoned Luca, who turned out to be very kind and helpful.

He tells me that he lives in a small town where a community of persons with disabilities lives, and that it would be nice to take at least one picture together with all the members of the association “A ruota libera” he chairs.

But on approaching the town, as often happens when I pick up my camera, a heavy spring shower greets us.

Luca welcomes us into his house, without too many formalities. Alba is in the kitchen with Luisa, the nanny. We take the opportunity to go on a quick tour of the house looking for spots with the best light, while he seems genuinely sorry that he cannot show us around the medieval village.

The first question you feel like asking Luca is “How did you do it? A single, homosexual man, how did you adopt a little girl?” We have a law that provides for foster care for children who are rejected by their parents. “No one wanted Alba, neither the mother who abandoned her in the hospital when she was born, nor the cou- ples she was proposed for foster care to. I was the first on the list of the disabled child-custody registry of the court of Naples, where you can enrol even as a single person.

I took her into foster care a few weeks after she was born and adopted her definitively on her first birthday.”
It is important to emphasise that the law establishes that a woman who is aware of her inability to exercise as a mother after she has given birth can decide to give up her parental rights. And if none of the first-degree family members takes this responsibility, the child can be given into the custody of others. So, the mother did noth- ing illegal, indeed she probably made the best possible choice

to ensure that Alba could have a better future.
I felt Alba as my daughter at once. As soon as I saw her and held her in my arms.
I didn’t make a heroic decision, but something normal. And the couples who rejected her were just scared of what they don’t know and that society doesn’t help to know. That is, a child with a dis- ability is not only an issue concerning psychomotricity or speech therapy, but also an issue concerning integration in the labour market, who must be able to develop an emotional life, a sexuality. I hope that, over time, society will get used to understanding that disability is diversity with the same chances and the same rights the so-called normal people have.
I have been working with persons with disabilities since I was 14 and I am not at all scared by the idea of raising Alba. On the other hand, it was no surprise, rather a choice.
I am a single father now and am happy. I don’t think Alba would have a better life in a dedicated facility or in a foster home. And, in a time when the traditional family is disintegrating, where many children grow up in families who are torn apart, our small community full of love can only be a positive sign.

Finally, it is the time for dressing up. Veronica, the stylist, found some beautiful tutus for Alba to wear. Luca and Luisa are sceptical about Alba’s will to change, but it seems that she doesn’t mind. She lets them docilely dress her up as a princess, grabs a microphone, and dances to the notes of “Figli di…”, the latest song by Loredana Bertè. Luca is continually distracted by Alba. It is difficult to surprise him in an instant when he is not paying attention to her. But the set goes on smoothly, even when I ask him to go upstairs and hold her. It is very easy to fall in love with Alba, she is so beautiful that she doesn’t seem real. And it is also difficult not to fall in love with Luca and his proud smile. Veronica and Ilaria, who have come with me, absolutely adore them, and I have to tear them away from the child by force. We drive back towards Naples, with that bitter af- tertaste that you get when you have seen how things should go, and how simple it appears to make them go the right way. Let’s go back to our protected life, full of fears…