Foundlings, abandoned babies and adopted children

Birth records for foundlings or  abandoned babies  can be requested from the town where the birth was registered.  When a couple were not married civilly the birth was registered on one of 3 ways.   This applies even if they were married in the Church but did not register the marriage at City Hall.

  1. Showing the natural mother’s name
  2. Showing the natural father’s name
  3. Showing no parents and an surname invented by the Mayor.

Depending on the circumstances, the child may be placed with a person chosen by the Mayor (or priest who would know who was available to breastfeed) or entrusted to the natural father or mother. This person may be named on the birth act if the child was registered as parents unknown.
Formal adoptions were rare.


  1. Ann,

    This is very interesting information.

    Last night, I was doing some research on Italian foundlings and came across a book called “Italy in the Age of Pinocchio: Children and Danger in the Liberal Era” by Carl Ipsen (2006). This book focuses on foundlings in the Italian state during the latter part of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century.

    Here’s a link to check it out on line…copy and paste this into your browser:

    The bit of info that I found last night is an article called, “Tracing Italian Lineages of Adoptees and Ancestors Born Outside of Marriage.”

    Here’s the link to the article…copy and paste the following into your Web browser:

    — Mary


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.