Heaps of 'amore' under one roof
For Gotuzzo sisters, who each adopted children but live together, famiglia comes first.

Published: Nov. 26, 2007

Being a Gotuzzo meant growing up with a strong sense of family, love and willingness to open the door for just about anyone.

Along with their two brothers, Astrid and Beatriz Gotuzzo were raised the old-fashioned Italian way: famiglia always comes first.

So when the sisters decided to adopt children individually but raise them under the same roof, there were no questions asked. In a span of four years, the Gotuzzos gained three foster children who they would later adopt.

"I'm sure that's what led me to be open, accepting all types of people and not having second thoughts about adopting," Beatriz said.

As they prepared Thanksgiving dinner and watched their daughters chase balloons around their parents' Huntington Beach home on Thursday, Astrid and Beatriz said they were thankful for their family, health and happiness. It was the first time they celebrated as a legal, adoptive family though the two have separately raised their girls for several years as foster moms.

Astrid, who has a biological daughter Alessandra, 10, and adopted daughter Sofia, 3, has lived with younger sister Beatriz for about five years. Beatriz has two adopted daughters, Cristina, 4, and Francesca, 2. The advantage of residing together, they explain, is the extra help one gets while raising a large brood.

Their unusual yet successful living arrangement as single moms with adopted children were lauded a week ago by the Orange County Children and Family Services, who named the Gotuzzo sisters "Adoption Heroes" among six other families. The three adopted girls were born in Orange County and found homes through the agency.

An ideal family, Astrid said, doesn't have to include bloodlines. She encourages qualified families to adopt because of the difference it makes.

Her parents, Ada and Tomasso, who have been married for 47 years, welcomed their children's friends into their home and later welcomed their adopted grandchildren. The family remains tight-knit, with the sisters living less than a mile away from their parents. One brother lives in Seattle and another in Temecula.

"It's the center," said Tomasso Gotuzzo of his family. "Anything you do, I think, in some way or another involves the family."

Three months out of the year, the sisters take their children to Italy so they can teach them about the Italian culture and language. The adopted girls attend summer camp by the beach to learn about the history of Fondi, where the family owns property.

Astrid, an artist, had lived in Italy for 15 years before moving back to the U.S. about five years ago. She had done some charity work with orphans through the Vatican and was convinced that she'd adopt a child. Beatriz, a computer programmer, also felt she was ready to be a mom but thought it would be easier to raise children with the help of her sister and mother.

"I'm thankful for my family and all of the joy and happiness in our lives," Beatriz said.


FAMILY OF FUN: From left, Astrid Gotuzzo, Alessandra, 10, Francesca, 2, Beatriz, Cristina, 4, and Sofia, 3, go through preparations for Thanksgiving dinner at the home of Beatriz and Astrid's parents, Tomasso and Ada Gotuzzo.

FAMILY PORTRAIT: The Gotuzzo family takes a pause from Thanksgiving dinner preparation to pose for a portrait. From left, Cristina, 4, Beatriz, Tomasso, Ada, Francesca, 2, Astrid, Sofia, 3, and Alessandra, 10.

A SMASH: From left, Francesca, 2, Cristina, 4, and Sofia Gotuzzo, 3, take on potato-mashing duty in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner at their grandparents' house in Huntington Beach. Far left, off camera is Alessandra, 10.

FAMILY RESEMBLANCE: Gotuzzo sisters Astrid, left, and Beatriz, right, prepare thanksgiving dinner with their mother Ada, center.

PLAYTIME: Sofia, 3, Alessandra, 10, and Francesca Gotuzzo, 2, horse around on the couch before Thanksgiving dinner.

CRISTINA'S TURN: Beatriz Gotuzzo pushes her daughter Cristina, 4, on the swing as Francesca, 2, and Sofia, 3, wait their turn.