'Alba completely revolutionized my life. Now everything revolves around her. She brought me happiness and a sense of fulfillment. I am proud to be her dad,' the doting father said.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on September 25, 2019.
Luca Trapanese—a gay, Italian, Catholic, single dad—is no stranger to breaking societal norms. He's often invited to TV talk shows and public debates where he still encounters people who are yet to accept the idea of a gay man being allowed to adopt children. While he uses these opportunities to push forward the conversation, Trapanese insists that his decision to adopt a 1-month-old with Down syndrome had nothing to do with shattering stereotypes. He simply wanted a family and when he met Alba, a baby girl who'd been rejected by 20 families, he instantly knew she was the one he'd been waiting for.
While the idea of caring for a child with special needs is quite daunting to many, Trapanese opened his heart and home for Alba without a moment's hesitation. He knew just how challenging it was to live with an illness, as his close childhood friend had terminal cancer. Speaking to BBC, Trapanese said, "When I was 14, my best friend Diego discovered he had terminal cancer. When I found out about it, I decided to never leave his side. I went to the hospital with him, I helped him with his homework, and I would just always be there for him when he needed me."
Trapanese continued, "His parents had to work, so most of the time, it was just the two of us. I stayed with him all throughout this terribly sad, painful, experience right up to the very end. Even though we were just kids at the time, we were both very aware of the tragic situation. Diego was my best friend and I would do anything to help him. Diego's death left me with a profound awareness of what living with an illness meant. That's why I started volunteering with a church in Naples to help critically ill people and kids with disabilities."
While volunteering with the Italian church and helping those in need, Trapanese soon realized that this was what he wanted to do with his life. At the age of 25, he joined a seminary and spent two years studying to become a Catholic priest. However, his plan took a major deviation when he met a man and fell in love. Trapanese doesn't regret leaving with the seminary as he spent 11 wonderful years with his partner, and the pair founded a charity in Naples, working with people with disabilities. They also often spoke about starting a family of their own by adopting a child, agreeing that they'd only adopt a disabled child.
However, Trapanese and his partner broke up a few years ago and he moved into a house by himself. Although he held on to the idea of becoming a father, it was impossible for a single parent to adopt in Italy at the time. He was overjoyed when the restrictions were lifted and he was able to apply for adoption at the beginning of 2017. Even though he was told he'd only be given a child with an illness or severe disabilities, Trapanese was more than happy to adopt any child who came his way. Thanks to his personal experiences, he knew he had the resources to deal with whatever problem the child may have.
"In July 2017, I got a phone call from the Tribunal. They said they had a baby girl for me. Her name was Alba and she was 30 days old. She had Down syndrome and she had been abandoned by her biological mother. She had also been rejected by more than 20 families. I struggled to contain my joy. I immediately said yes. I rushed to the hospital to pick her up. She was in a teeny tiny cradle all by herself. When I first held her in my arms, I was overcome with joy. I felt she was my daughter straight away. It was the first time I held a newborn baby. Before that moment, I have always been scared but when I first held Alba, I knew I was ready to be her dad," the doting father revealed.
The new father wanted to spend his first few days with Alba alone and took her to his family house in the countryside creating a bond with her. "They were the sweetest moments," he recounted. He then organized a party to introduce her to his family and friends, who immediately showered the baby girl with love. Talking about his daughter, he said, "Alba has a very strong personality and she can be really stubborn sometimes. She would like to play and eat and dance all day long. She loves being with other people, so I take her for walks in the park, to the museum, and sometimes I even take her to work with me. She loves that."
"Alba completely revolutionized my life. Now everything revolves around her. She brought me happiness and a sense of fulfillment. I am proud to be her dad. Alba was never my second choice because she has a condition, I wanted her to be my daughter. Being a single dad is hard but I have friends whose partners work all day and they're struggling as well. I think that being a parent is hard, full stop. I can see a future for myself now. I'll spend the rest of my life with the child I love and we'll do so many amazing things together," he added.