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Event Details

Tue, September 12, 2023

18:00 – 19:30

New York University - Villa La Pietra
Via Bolognese, 120
50139 Florence, Italy


A Book Presentation by Maria Laurino

Maria Laurino’s, The Price of Children: How the Vatican Separated Thousands of Children from their Mothers (Il Prezzo degli Innocenti: Come Il Vaticano Ha Sottratto Migliaia Di Bambini Alle Loro Madri) gives testimony to Italy’s dark postwar history of the forced adoption of thousands of babies born out of wedlock. Told through the voices of its perpetrators and victims, along with rich archival research, Laurino unveils how over 3,700 children were separated from their mothers and sent to American families from the 1950s to 1970s.  She takes us from the hills of Tuscany to the gates of St. Peter’s, from small-town Steubenville, Ohio (where a large cluster of the Italian babies, including Laurino’s cousin, landed) to Manhattan’s infamous Chelsea Hotel.  We hear the voices of birth mothers, adoptive mothers, adopted children (now middle-aged), and the only person alive today who helped run the program. Beyond these never-reported facts, Laurino considers the historical intersection between Catholicism, women, sex and sin and how private lives are shaped by historical and political forces, issues that resonate strongly today in a post-Roe America.

Featured Biographies

Maria Laurino


Maria Laurino is the author of the national bestselling memoir Were You Always an Italian?; Old World Daughter, New World Mother, a meditation on contemporary feminism; and The Italian Americans: A History the companion book to a national PBS documentary. The Price of Children, translated into Italian by Alba Bariffi, was published first in Italy this September by Longanesi. Laurino’s journalism has appeared in numerous publications including the Village Voice, New York Times, Washington Post, and The New Republic and her essays have been widely anthologized including in the Norton Reader.  She has taught creative nonfiction in the undergraduate writing program at NYU for the past decade