A 70-YEAR-OLD Italian woman has confessed to selling or giving away 12 children she had from a secret affair.
Caterina Annarumma went to the police to clear her conscience. She insisted she had not done it for money but to give her offspring a better future.
She said the children were born between 1961 and 1979 while she was having an affair with a married man. Only four were officially recorded as adopted. The couple kept their 13th child.
She said: "We were poor and only had a little money. I sold the children I had, but not so I could gain but to give them a brighter future."
Mrs Annarumma sold her first child – a boy – for 500,000 lire (£250) which, in the early 1960s, was a small fortune.
At the time, she was secretly having an affair with her future husband, Nicola Stanzione, who was already married. The two saw each other in secret until 1988, when he finally divorced his wife. During that time, the couple had 13 children, and all of them were given up bar the last one, Gerardo.
One of the children, Marina, when she learned she was adopted, decided to trace her real parents.
Yesterday, Marina, a psychologist, said: "When I got there, it was very emotional. There was a lot of tears. My mother said, 'Sit down I have something to tell you', and she said that I had another 12 brothers and sisters.
"She told me that back then life was hard and that she was also seeing my father secretly. The children were either sold or adopted – the ones she sold she was paid about 500,000 lire for."
Massimo Cagnazzo, who is leading the police inquiry, said: "We have traced ten of the children and we are looking for two others.
"From what she has told us, she gave birth over a period of nearly 20 years to 12 children and either sold them or gave them away.
"Her reasons were that she did it not for the money but to give them a better future as she was living in poverty. She told us she wanted to clear her conscience as she was getting old and that it had been a weight on her mind.
"She said she had always loved her children dearly."
He added that it was unlikely she would be charged with child trafficking.
Mrs Annarumma said: "I wanted to get it off my chest – it has been on my shoulders for nearly 40 years.
I was seeing Nicola in secret. He already had a family and we were lovers and we had children. What was I supposed to do? Kill the babies? I gave birth in secret at home with my family protecting me."