Adoption restrictions in China a little harsh

Alyssa Conner

America has one of the highest obesity rates in the world, and it seems to be affecting our global standing.

I was researching information this weekend for a paper and came across an article in the International Herald Tribune about how China started enforcing more restrictions on foreign adoptions last year.

Any person who is obese, single, does not meet certain financial benchmarks or has health problems such as AIDS or cancer cannot qualify to adopt from China, according to adoption agencies in the United States.

The article states that the reason for the new restrictions is because of the increase in Chinese adoptions by Americans. The Chinese officials hope the restrictions will improve children’s chances to be “raised by healthy, economically stable parents.”

At first, I took offense to the restrictions because it shouldn’t matter if someone is obese or not. I feel it is more important if the person is stable enough to be a good parent and can provide a better life for that child.

But the article started to state reasons why the Chinese want their children to be raised by healthy parents. Obese parents may have a shorter life span because of the complications that come with being extremely overweight.

In the article, Jackie Harrah, executive director of Harrah’s Adoption International Mission in Spring, Texas, said, “It’s better for a parent not to be obese because they have a chance of living longer.”

Chinese officials require couples to have a body mass index of less than 40. According to a body mass index chart, people with the BMI of 40 are considered “extremely obese.” For instance, a person who is 5 feet, 6 inches tall with the BMI of 40 would weigh 262 pounds.

Therefore, the parent could have serious health issues, such as diabetes and chances of heart attacks. I am not saying an obese parent should be considered a “bad parent,” but the main point I am getting at is: Would that parent be able to raise a healthy child while dealing with the complications that could come from their obesity? Thus, I feel the BMI requirement is reasonable and substantial.

When it comes to a child’s health, I think it all depends on how parents promote healthy choices for their children. Some people cannot help whether they are obese or not, but if they encourage their kids to eat heathily and exercise, weight should not be a determinant.

The article further clarified the restrictions. For instance, applicants can’t be divorced more than twice and have to have been married for more than two years. If one of the spouses has been divorced, then he or she has to be married at least five years in order to qualify as a potential adoptive parent. Parents also have to have at least a net worth of $80,000, a high school diploma and no criminal record.

I was torn between whether I agree or disagree with these new restrictions. I was confused as to why an overpopulated country like China would make it harder for families to adopt when they could provide a better life for these orphans. I mean, sure, you would want the child to be placed in a financially stable home with healthy parents, but is there a fine line that is crossed from the possible to the impossible?

I feel the new regulations are too restrictive, and the officials didn’t consider all the possible loopholes. For instance, the article talks about an adoptive couple who was affected by the new criteria because one of the spouses is in a wheelchair due to a neuromuscular condition. Although she met all the other requirements, it was a close call for the couple to be able to adopt from China. But the agency was able to push the approval of the parents because the girl was 5 years old and not an infant.

China never had such strict rules before. I feel China might have made the new restrictions because America is viewed as having high obesity and divorce rates, but there are so many other factors that need to be considered. Everybody has their own situations and can make their own decisions.

The program shouldn’t ask how many times a person has been divorced. What matters the most when it comes to adoption is being able to provide a better lifestyle for a child whether a parent is single, obese or has divorced three or four times. Maybe China can add some exceptions to the new criteria, such as allowing parents to meet most of the requirements, but not all.

Alyssa Conner is a junior public relations major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].