Potential Parents Face New Adoption Rules in China

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Potential adoptive parents may have to think twice about their weight and marital status before adopting a baby from China. Tom DiFilipo, president of the Joint Council on International Children's Services, explains the recent revisions to China's foreign adoption policy.


From NPR News, it's DAY TO DAY.

Adoptive parents already have a lot of requirements to meet. In China, they'll soon have to meet a lot more. They can't be obese. They can't have a facial deformity, and they have to be between the ages 30 and 50.

Tom DiFilipo joins me now. He's the president of the Joint Council on International Children's Services, which represents adoption agencies and parent groups. And welcome to the program.

Mr. TOM DIFILIPO (President, Joint Council on International Children's Services): Thank you.

BRAND: Tell us more about these new rules. I understand that they'll go into effect May 1st.

Mr. DIFILIPO: That's correct. There was a series of meetings last week where they CCAA - the China Center of Adoption Affairs - presented a series of regulations - some of them that you mentioned already, other ones revolving around employment, education, number of children in families, criminal history, things like that. The regulations that they've put forth haven't been presented to us in writing yet, and I believe that this part of an ongoing discourse with the CCAA.

BRAND: I see. So they're not final yet.

Mr. DIFILIPO: No. No, they have not been written yet.

BRAND: Well, what do you suppose the effect would be on American adoptions of Chinese babies? I mean, if these rules do go into effect, what do you think the reaction will be amongst perspective parents?

Mr. DIFILIPO: Well, certainly, some families will be required to look elsewhere to create their family through adoption. There's about 53 countries around the world that are open to inter-country adoption. So China's not the only source. It's just one of the most popular in terms of adoptive parents looking towards that country.

BRAND: Well, why are they doing this? Can they afford to be so choosy?

Mr. DIFILIPO: They actually can, in a sense. There's been a surge in the number of applications that the CCAA has received from American families hoping to adopt Chinese orphans.

BRAND: I think one of the requirements that's raising some eyebrows today is the requirement that parents with a BMI - that's a body mass index - of 40 or over would not eligible. And just to put it in context, if you're 5-foot-6 and weigh 250 pounds, you wouldn't qualify.

Mr. DIFILIPO: That's correct. And that goes to longevity, from what we understand - lifespan. Their concern is that a family or adoptive parents who would be obese may have a reduced lifespan, and therefore not be suitable parents.

BRAND: And is there any other country that has such stringent requirements?

Mr. DIFILIPO: There are countries in sub-Sahara Africa, for instance. They would require an adoptive family to live in the country for a year, a year and a half.

BRAND: Unless Madonna, that is.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DIFILIPO: Well, maybe that's a discussion for another day. But some countries do have those requirements, and those are what we would call restrictive and they're not in the best interest of children. The regulations that the Chinese have put forth, while we may disagree with some of the specifics - like, for instance, the issue on single adoptions…

BRAND: You have to be married.

Mr. DIFILIPO: You have to be married, yeah. So we may not agree with those, it's certainly within, you know, standard social service policy to look at all the issues that the Chinese are looking at right now.

BRAND: Why are Chinese babies so sought after by Americans?

Mr. DIFILIPO: You know, you see what your neighbors are doing. You see your friends and families and you get advice from them, and you move in generally in the same direction. It isn't necessarily easier to adopt from China than other countries, but it is more systematic.

The Chinese have a centralized authority that's exceptionally efficient. There's usually a definitive timeline, the costs are relatively low, and the children are well cared for prior to the placement with an American family. So there's multiple reasons. It's not just looking towards families and friends for advice. It's also, you know, more pragmatic reasons.

BRAND: Tom DiFilipo, thank you very much.

Mr. DIFILIPO: You're welcome. Thank you.

BRAND: Tom DiFilipo is the president of the Joint Council on International Children's Services, and that group represents adoption agencies and parents groups. We've been talking about China's new adoption requirements.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: And DAY TO DAY returns in a moment.

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