I wonder if it wouldn't be helpful if Michael went with a female relative, like his mother or sister. A lot of people just don't feel comfortable with a man raising a child, even if the mother is dead. I remember reading about a case in Germany about 10 years ago. It was 2 kids that had a German mother and American father. The German mother had custody and was living with them in Germany but at some point she became mentally ill and was sent to live in a mental hospital. The children were put into a foster home, not of extended family members but just strangers. The father attempted to get them back to bring them to the US, but the German social services wouldn't allow it. They said it would be "traumatic" for them to be uprooted to another country. They wouldn't even allow the father to visit them in the foster home, again saying it would be "traumatic" for them, but not demonstrating exactly why. The funny thing was that they did allow the children's paternal grandmother to visit them. What explanation? None, but it has to be because of blatant sexism. A lot of people just feel that men can't relate to children. As far as I know, he never got them back and they lived permanently with the foster family and got visits a few times a year from their paternal grandmother but never from their father.
Anyway, maybe if Michael had his mother or sister with him on these visits and assured the Italian authorities that they would be involved in Liam's upbringing if they allowed him to come back to the US that would help. Personally, I don't agree with this attitude. Human beings possess free will and behave how they want to. But you have to deal with reality. Anyway, just a suggestion!