British Couple Declared ‘Too Fat to Adopt’

by Laura Christianson

For a years now, we've been hearing that China will no longer allow overweight couples to apply to adopt a child.Damien and Charlotte Hall

Appears the same thing is happening in England, where the Leeds City Council informed Damien and Charlotte Hall: Sorry. No can do. You're morbidly obese. You cannot adopt.

Damien, at 24 1/2 stone (343 pounds), is 6'1". His Body Mass Index (BMI) is 42+, and the council told him he must reduce it to below 40 "because of a risk he could become ill or even die."

According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, people are considered obese when their BMI is greater than or equal to 30 and overweight if their BMI is from 25 to 29.9. A person is considered morbidly obese when the BMI is over 40. The BMI is a measure of your weight relative to your height
and waist circumference and measures abdominal fat.

We all know that obesity puts one at higher risk for a host of health issues, including cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance syndrome, stroke, fatty liver disease, gallblader disease, musculoskeletal disorders, breathing problems–even some types of cancer.

With so many folks falling into the "overweight" and "morbidly obese" range these days, it's a wonder anyone is allowed to adopt. Sixty percent of Americans are overweight, and 40 percent of
those are obese, says David Murdock, owner of Dole Food Company (from
Costco Connection magazine).

I feel for Damien and Charlotte. Because of fertility challenges, they are unable to birth a child. Because of weight challenges, they are unable at this time to adopt one. I understand that adoption agencies want parents who are healthy (physically and emotionally) and who have a good chance of living to see their child grow to adulthood.

But Charlotte and Damien have been married 11 years and been a couple for 14 (a good sign that they're stable and relatively content). They don't drink or smoke. They have good jobs. Damien says, "I'm not a couch potato and I don't sit eating takeaways every night. I
just feel as though we were only judged on my weight and not all the
other good things about us."

When there are so many children out there waiting to be adopted, I hate seeing prospective parents' worth being based on weight alone.

I'm torn on this one, readers. What do you think? How much "weight" should be given to one's weight when determining their readiness to adopt?

Would you be allowed to adopt, based on your weight? Calculate your BMI and see if you'd qualify:


Deborah January 12, 2009 at 9:14 AM

Weight shouldn’t be a factor…there are no guarantees for any of us..we could be hit by a car tomorrow!
What about age…right now that is my concern…my husband and I are both 50…are we too old to adopt a 2 year old? If you have some info on that subject I’d love to see it…or links to ‘older adoptive parents.’

Sue January 14, 2009 at 10:52 AM

I say all this in acute awareness that there is 15 extra lbs of me that really should be dealt with….
Generally, if you have a serious health condition, govt’s don’t let you adopt. Some, because they use a point system. For instance, I have friends who live in Japan who could not adopt…she had cancer previously, they were a little older (I think mid to late 30’s when they looked into it) and they were mixed race (he is a white Canadian, she is Japanese) so the couple told me that with it being a “points” system, points being awarded based on various criteria the Japanese Gov’t thought made you a fit parent, they would never have been considered as adoptive parents. (and they never did have kids)
Is being obese the same as having cancer? In some ways it is. You shorten your life expectancy considerably. But fortunately, being very overweight is quite treatable, in a way that terminal cancer isn’t.
I think the BEST system is the one by which our kids came into our family – at the agency we used, the birth moms get to choose. You might think they would pick families for reasons that are superficial but that would be doing a big disservice to the wonderful birthmoms who choose to place their kids with adoptive families. Even younger birthmoms seem to choose families based on really good criteria – similar values or traditions or religion – in short they tend to pick a family they can relate to. This way, if birthmoms are comfortable placing their child with a family with an obese parent, because they like what the family is all about, so be it. And if they think it’s risky placing their child in the home of someone who is obese and choose not to, that certainly makes sense to me.

Chelle August 14, 2009 at 9:16 AM

I don’t think that weight (especially BMI) should be considered a factor for readiness to adopt. Overall health maybe, but BMI? no… Just because someone has a high BMI doesn’t mean they’re going to keel over tomorrow. They could have a ton of muscle, which weighs more than fat, sending up the BMI. Each case is different, as with cancer or any other health problem, and has to be looked at in that way.
Would I be able to adopt under those guidelines, unfortunately not.

Cecile March 7, 2012 at 3:14 AM

The UK is in desperate need of families for the 4000 children that it has in care. Of course one must ensure that adoptive parents will live until their child reaches adulthood, this is a given. But to outrightly deny someone the opportunity to give a child a home based on weight alone is not right. The system here in the UK is having a huge overhaul because of incidents like this with social workers turning people away at the flimsiest of reasons. I spoke to one couple who were told that they could not go forward with their adoption because the man was still having minor money issues with his ex-wife of 16 years.There is a culture here that is opposed to adoption and this culture needs to change to help bot only the children in care here, but for orphaned children overseas as well.

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