Adoption and People of Size

by Kmom

Copyright © 2002-2007 Kmom@Vireday.Com. All rights reserved.

Last updated: June 2007

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. Consult your health provider. 




Do plus-sized people really adopt kids?  What are the conditions most fat people face today when considering adoption?  Just how prevalent is adoption discrimination based on size?  Is obesity really a valid reason for denying adoption?  What countries discriminate and what countries do not?  Are there any hints that can help ease the adoption process and head off potential size bias problems?  Where can fat people turn to for help?

This FAQ is an attempt to start to answer these questions, but it won't have all the answers.  This is just a first draft of information that Kmom has found so far on the subject; obviously there is much more that needs to be addressed.  However, given the dearth of information out there on the subject, it is time someone at least started addressing this topic. 

Although the focus of this website is on plus-sized pregnancy, it really is about the right of fat women to be parents if they so desire.  Whether that is through biological pregnancy or through adoption is irrelevant; fat women (and men) have the RIGHT to have a family if they want one.  This FAQ is an attempt to fill the gap in information on adoption options for people of size,  whether their journey to parenthood follows a traditional or non-traditional path.


Frequently Asked Questions About Adoption and Size

Do people of size really get to adopt children? 

Women of size adopt children all the time.  Think of Rosie O'Donnell in America, and Dawn French in Great Britain.  Although they  may encounter problems, if they are tenacious and open to many options, most of the time they can adopt.  

Men of size tend to be less penalized by size bias, but they too can encounter prejudice as they attempt to adopt children.  However, in most cases, they are also able to adopt.  

Some people of size never encounter any kind of bias during their adoption process.  Kmom knows several people of size who have not had a bit of trouble adopting.  Yet it is not hard to find stories online of people of size who have encountered difficulties, so the problem does exist.  

Although a person's size can affect adoption plans in some cases, and although there may be bumps along the way related to size, most of the time people of size are able to adopt.  

Why do women of size adopt children?  Is it always because of infertility issues?

Plus-sized women adopt children for many varied reasons, just as anyone else does.  It is incorrect to stereotype and say that most adoptions by people of size are because of infertility issues.  Some are, some are not. 

Yes, some large women adopt because they suffer from infertility problems that do not respond to treatment.  Although most large women who seek to become pregnant are able to conceive, some do experience infertility problems.  Of these women, most respond to treatments and do eventually become pregnant.  However, some infertility issues are very difficult to treat, and not all who seek treatment will conceive or be able to carry a pregnancy to term.  Therefore, some turn to adoption as an alternative. 

However, large women also adopt for many other reasons. Some fat women wish to help out by adopting a  child that needs a home, while others have foster children they wish to adopt permanently.  Others prefer to adopt because they have a difficult family history or genetic risks they do not wish to pass on biologically.

For some women, adoption is preferable to artificial insemination.  Women in this group may include those who are single, getting older, and not sure if they will find a partner before their biological clock runs out;  those who are gay and wish to have children; and those who have spouses that are infertile.  In these cases, adoption may be the option women are most comfortable with. 

Some large women do not find their perfect mate until they are past the age of pregnancy.  Others develop medical conditions that necessitate a hysterectomy at a young age, and so adoption becomes their only real option for having children.  Still others have a difficult obstetric history, and adoption becomes a safer or easier way to continue their family.

The reasons why women of size consider adoption are varied.  Sometimes it's related to size or health matters, and sometimes it is completely unrelated.  No one should make assumptions about why women of size are adopting. 

Does obesity keep heavy women from adopting?

Plus-sized women can face discrimination in adoption based on their size.  In the past, some heavy women were indeed turned down for adoption based solely on their size.  In some countries, even to this day, authorities will not do adoptions to overweight women/couples.  

Therefore it may help to know ahead of time which countries/agencies are most likely to have size concerns, and which are not.  Currently Korea and now China have strict weight restrictions for foreigners.  In addition, some people in the United Kingdom and Australia have reported encountering barriers because of their weight, although this can vary from area to area.  

On the other hand, some countries in Central and South America (such as Guatemala) seem more open to people of size adopting children, so these may be easier places to start the search for a foreign adoption.  Kmom knows several big moms who have adopted through Central or South American countries.  Having some familiarity with Spanish may be helpful in this process.

In the United States, there are few strict rules against people of size adopting, but the rules will vary depending on the agency used.  Most of the time, it is more likely to be a case of an individual person's biases than an institutional policy of weight restrictions.  The bias may come from the social worker assigned to do the home study, the doctor assigned to do the health exam, or even the bias of the birth parents themselves.  But most women of size who attempt to adopt within the US are able to do so without much difficulty.  

One path to adoption that seems to be extremely accessible to people of size is foster care.  The sad fact is that there are far more children in the foster care system than foster parents to take care of them.  State governments are desperate for good foster parents.  Kmom knows some very supersized women who have adopted through the fostercare system with nary a word about weight, with a very happy outcome all around.  

Also, keep in mind that some "types" of children are more in demand than others.  If you are open to the idea of adopting an older child, a child of a different ethnic group, a child with medical challenges, or a sibling group, your weight is less likely to be an issue.  

Many people adopt infants privately, and the birth mother helps to choose the couple she wants to adopt her baby.  If the birth mother is biased about size, then the fact is that she may not choose larger people to adopt her baby.  On the other hand, if the birth mother is large herself, she may want to place her child with people who her baby might look like.  So size can work both for and against you; you never know.  

Also, remember that birth mothers tend to be more receptive to couples who are willing to negotiate some form of "open adoption," where she can be kept updated on her birthchild's progress and perhaps have the possibility of contact later in life.  The more flexible you are, the more likely you will be able to adopt.  

In short, the key is to do your research, know the policies of the countries and agencies you are considering, be as flexible about adoption possibilities as you can, and be tenacious in your search.  If you truly want to adopt, chances are you will be able to.

What about Surrogacy?

Another alternative to traditional adoption is a gestational surrogate.  This is a real option, though an expensive one.  Some of the process is much like adoption.  

Kmom knows of some supersized women who have become parents through surrogacy.  She hopes to have more information (and stories) on this option in the future.  Stay tuned.

Why keep obese people from adopting?

Oftentimes, size bias in adoption is disguised under the dubious cover of being concerned about health issues.

  1. Authorities are afraid that fat people won't live long enough to raise the adopted child to adulthood
  2. Authorities are afraid that fat parents will make the adopted child fat and unhealthy too
  3. Authorities are afraid that fat parents are emotionally unhealthy and will make the child unhappy or emotionally unstable too

Let's look closer and examine whether these are truly reasonable concerns.

First, authorities want to make sure that you are healthy enough to adopt.  They want to be sure that you will not drop dead in a few years, leaving the child parentless again.  Fair enough; this is a very understandable and reasonable concern----on the surface. 

However, this reasoning stems from the common misconception that fat people are walking time bombs, about to drop dead at any second from heart attack, stroke, etc. In fact, while extremes of size can shorten life span in some cases, most of the time people of size have reasonable life spans, plenty long enough for the raising of children. The perception that fat people are about to drop dead at any second and will never live long enough to raise a child is a myth.  Look around you----there are plenty of young adults who have fat parents who are still alive and kicking.  Obviously they somehow managed to live long enough to raise children.

So denying fat people the right to adopt is often based on a mistaken premise----the assumption that they will not live long enough to raise the child fully.  In fact, most fat people have long enough lives that this is not an issue at all.  

You do need to be honest about your own health, of course.  If you are a smoker, the combination of smoking and extreme size probably lowers your life expectancy.  So does drug use and heavy drinking.  If you are a chronic dieter (yo-yoing up and down in extremes), you may be lowering your life expectancy, although data is not absolutely conclusive at this time.  If you resort to extreme measures for weight control (drugs, weight loss surgery, etc.), then your long-term prognosis may not be as good.  If you have a true eating disorder that you have not been treated for, then your life expectancy may well be lower too, and you are probably not emotionally healthy enough for a child until those issues have been addressed.   All of those are valid arguments against adopting, but not weight alone. 

If you have Syndrome X (apple-shaped obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, a tendency towards diabetes, etc.), then your life expectancy may be impacted somewhat, although again, usually not as a young person.  So if you do have Syndrome X (or its relative, Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome), it will be important to demonstrate that you have a proactive, healthy lifestyle and care that seeks to prevent or treat potential problems in order to counteract this concern about life expectancy.  (See below.)

What about the other concerns, that fat parents will make the adopted child fat and unhealthy?  Or that fat parents are emotionally unhealthy and will make the child miserable too?

The truth is that these are also myths. Dr. David Katz, MD, wrote the following in response to the news that China was restricting adoptions to obese people (found at ):

China announced tighten restrictions on adoptions by foreigners...Stated bluntly, if you are too fat, you can't adopt a Chinese baby.

The laundry list of new restrictions on adoptions by foreigners is ostensibly aimed at assuring the babies a stable home conducive to good physical, mental and financial health...This policy is misguided, discriminatory and shameful.

Preventing adoption based on weight, no matter what weight, only makes sense if there is evidence that parental BMI is legitimately linked to the quality of a child's life and health or the kind of parenting he or she receives. To my knowledge, that link doesn't exist.

I've searched the medical literature for studies that link parental weight or BMI with quality of life in children and found nothing. I could find no studies that demonstrate a link between the BMI and the capacity to love. I found no system that correlates weight, waist circumference or any other measure of body size with the quality of parenting.

As for a link between parental weight and weight in their biological children, that's a well established fact in the medical literature: heavy parents are more likely to have heavy children. You barely even need to search the medical literature to make this case —just look around. Kids tend to look like their parents...

The science clearly and consistently indicates that body shape and size in children resembles that of their biological parents for the same reason that eye color does — because of genes.

There is no link — repeat none — between the weight of adults who were adopted as children and the weights of their adoptive parents, as has been confirmed by the famous decades-long Danish Adoption Study. More than 20 years of scientific studies have shown that nature, not nurture, explains the weight outcomes of adopted children.

Adopted children don't take on the body type or body weights of their adoptive parents. The science that supports that fact is not only persuasive, it is almost shocking. Virtually none of the variation in the BMI of adults who were adopted as children is explained by the weight of their adoptive parents, according to the research...

The biggest reason China is imposing restrictions on adoption is because it can, I suppose. A lot of foreigners are trying to adopt Chinese babies, and the government can afford to set limits. There are far more non-Chinese adults wanting to adopt than there are Chinese babies available. In the crudest of terms, it is a seller's market.

The Chinese presumably could, if they wanted to, require that applicants be able to juggle or knit or play the piano. If their intent is to create arbitrary barriers so that the mismatch between supply and demand is resolved, these would work just fine.  If their intent is to ensure babies a nurturing and loving home, however, these restrictions would be ridiculous.

So is the notion that you can measure the quality of a parent on a bathroom scale.

Denying adoption rights to obese people because of a concern over that person's life expectancy or because of a fear that the fat parent might make the adopted child fat or emotionally unstable is an example of cultural bias against fatness.  It has no basis in reality and it should have no basis in the law either.  

How should I respond if my size or health status is questioned? 

Because some countries and agencies do have weight restrictions, it's good to be aware of the policies of various adoption sources and to have a plan to be proactive in case size bias is encountered during the adoption process.  

Know the countries which have rules restricting adoptions according to arbitrary weight guidelines (see above).  When interviewing an adoption agency (foreign or domestic), inquire whether they have weight restrictions.  Network with other adoptive parents who have adopted and find other larger-sized parents.  Ask them about their experiences with adoption and their advice to you in dealing with size issues.  Find out which countries and agencies are the easiest to deal with for larger people.

Anticipate that the adoption agency will want to ask you questions about your health status.  Before you start the adoption process, get a thorough physical to rule out any problems.  If a health condition is found, get treatment for it. If you have health concerns, you need to be able to show that you are treating them, that you are currently well, and that you have proactive health habits that will help prevent the worst possible scenario of disease progression.   Demonstrating that you are proactive about your health may counteract some of the adoption agency's concerns about your size.

For your own health, you should of course be pursuing healthy eating and regular exercise habits anyway---not to lose weight, but simply to be as fit as possible, whatever size you are.  No matter what your size, you should strive to be as healthy as possible.  Being under scrutiny by adoption agencies may give you even more motivation for a proactive lifestyle, but really, this is something you should already be doing for yourself, regardless.   And being able to prove that you are doing it (and have been for quite some time) may certainly work to your favor in the adoption agency's eyes.   So think proactive health habits.

If you find yourself denied the ability to adopt simply on the basis of weight alone, make a plan to fight it.  You may want to retain a size-friendly lawyer and have him/her write a letter; simply the threat of being sued is enough to make some agencies back down on discriminatory policies.  You may want to find mortality tables that show that most obese people live plenty long enough to raise children.  You can also argue that adoption agencies do not deny adoption to people with type 1 diabetes or other conditions that carry a substantial risk for complications and possible shortened life expectancy.  It is typically obesity that is stigmatized more than other possible health concerns, and that smacks more of cultural bias than legitimate concern.  

Don't hesitate to try and appeal to other social workers in the agency.  Sometimes it's just an isolated case worker with a bad case of fat prejudice who tries to sabotage you; get another case worker and you may avoid the problem entirely.  Better yet, make inquiries about your caseworkers ahead of time to avoid the most egregious biases.  (See Jim and Susan's story, summarized below.)

It may also help to prepare yourself emotionally and physically for the types of size bias you might encounter in an adoption quest, and to have answers ready if the question of size or health comes up.  How you respond may be just as important as the information you provide.  

If you are calm, emotionally secure, assertive yet not confrontational, and ready with a reasonable response to their potential concerns, they are more likely to listen and put aside their biases than if you respond in a defensive or overly-emotional way.  Be prepared with research to back up what you say, too.  Anticipate their arguments, prepare a response, and practice delivering it.  

Being prepared to calmly and rationally counter any size-bias you might encounter will not guarantee that this bias will not affect your adoption quest, but it does make it less likely.  Some people are so blinded by size bias that it will not matter what you say, but some are persuadable, and a calm, reasoned response may well be your best strategy.  And by anticipating and developing a response to any possible objections ahead of time, any size bias you do run into is less likely to be emotionally devastating.  

As the old saying goes, sometimes the best defense is a good offense.  Be prepared in case issues of size bias do come up, know which agencies and countries to avoid, find out the best case workers to deal with, and develop a strategy in case questions about your weight and health come up.  Then you will be better prepared for whatever you encounter.

And remember, most people of size eventually are able to adopt.  They sometimes have to fight institutional bias or switch adoption countries/agencies, but eventually, most people of size can adopt.  Don't give up!


Advice From An Adoption Expert (and Woman of Size)

These answers to common questions about adoption from women of size were compiled by Mary Ellen Gwynne, an adoption educator and consultant from Maryland.  Mary Ellen is a plus-sized woman herself who has adopted two children, and has taken to advising other plus-size women who are considering adoption.  To contact Mary Ellen, see the section below on "Where to Get Help."  

1. Is adoption really as hard as it looks in TV shows/movies? 

"Well, it can be that difficult if you are very narrow/specific in the sex, race, ethnicity, height, health, nationality or family history of a potential child. The more specific you are, the fewer number of available children would meet those criteria. It's important to really consider which things are most important to you, and consider letting the other things go.  Remember, you couldn't predict all of these things if you were pregnant!"

2. Is my size/weight going to be a problem if I decide to adopt? 

"Your health is the most important consideration in choosing to become a parent-no matter how that occurs. You must be honest with yourself and decide if you have the necessary stamina/mobility to care for the child you are seeking. (Keep in mind that NO ONE is really ready for the exhaustion of having a newborn who wakes 2-3 times each night, regardless of their size!!)  I believe that because we are accustomed to "pushing ourselves" when we are tired or uncomfortable, we are better prepared for some of those things as parents. 

I personally encountered size discrimination when going through our first homestudy, and it was very stressful to have to fight that at a time when I was so emotionally vulnerable. If you have the slightest hint that your social worker/agency has a problem with your size, address the issue immediately before it costs you more time and/or money. 

A homestudy addresses the issue of your health from the perspective of actually caring for a child and whether or not you have an average life expectancy. You are more likely to have a problem if you suffer from an illness that will seriously shorten your lifespan, thus potentially leaving a young child without parents again.  

In an international adoption, limits of height/weight/age are sometimes set by the government/country you wish to adopt from (usually Asian countries where people are of smaller stature, like Korea [and now China]). Your agency and coordinator have no control over that, and it is probably a waste of time and money to pursue an adoption there. Look into a different program---there are many wonderful children just waiting for you!!

Most domestic adoptions of infants today are done with the birth parents choosing the adoptive parents. Some of those people are not going to consider you if you are considerably overweight. No, it's not fair, but remember that some of these people are very young, not very good at making decisions anyway, and this is an incredibly stressful time in their lives.  This doesn't mean you won't be chosen, but it may take longer than it does for Barbie and Ken."

3. How do I get started? 

"The best way to start is to educate yourself. Talk to anyone who has adopted in the past 10 years, ask friends and family to be on the lookout for folks for you to talk to, and call your local department of social services and ask if they have any informational meetings for potential adoptive parents. Learn what the adoption scene is like in your state/area first. Search the internet sites, and ask for info WITHOUT commitment."


NAAFA's Policy Statement on Size Discrimination in Adoption

NAAFA, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, has issued a policy statement about the issue of size discrimination in adoption.  This statement follows.  It can be found online at:


Discrimination against fat women and men seeking to adopt is common in the Untied States, especially among private adoption agencies, as evidenced by the cases on file at NAAFA, Inc. Fat people are often turned down for adoption by private agencies or public child welfare departments primarily based on prejudice and assumptions about presumed future health problems and/or lower life expectancy.


The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance demands that fat individuals and couples have equal access to adoption services. The ability of a potential parent to love and properly care for a child should be the only valid selection criteria in any adoption.


Help fight size discrimination!  Join NAAFA today!  [For more information, contact]


Where Can I Turn to For Help and Advice

Many women of size who are considering adoption would like to have a resource that they could talk to about their concerns.  The following is an email from Mary Ellen Gwynne that accompanied the above "Advice From an Adoption Expert" information that she emailed to Kmom.  In it she gave permission to hand out her contact information so that she could act as a resource for adoption information and concerns.  

"Hello! I'm a BBW and a neonatal nurse who has experienced the same crap as everyone else in regards to discrimination as part of my health care.... I have adopted 2 lovely children, the most recent born 8 months ago. I do adoption counseling, education, and referrals, and seem to have developed a large BBW (pardon the pun!) client base. I haven't had a problem yet in helping women/couples turned away by large agencies.  I'd be glad to talk to any women or couples.  E-mail me at and I'll respond as soon as possible. Blessings!"

Her contact info is as follows:

In addition to the help from Mary Ellen Gwynn, those who encounter size bias during the adoption process can also consult NAAFA,, which has apparently helped other people of size in adoption concerns before.  In turn, they may be able to put you in touch with others who can advise you about size concerns during your adoption journey.  

Further adoption support for big moms can be found on the OASIS-Adopt email support list.  OASIS (Overweight And Seeking Infertility Support) is a service of the fertility website for big women at Fertility Plus has many support groups for large women at all stages of trying for parenthood, from actively trying to conceive, to being pregnant, to being a new mom, to struggling with infertility, etc.  It is an excellent source of information about various fertility issues, and support for dealing with them. 

OASIS-Adopt is an email support list for those struggling with fertility issues who are considering adoption.  To sign up for OASIS-Adopt, see the instructions at


Other Adoption Resources


Adoption and Obesity Media News Stories

Here are some excerpts from media stories about adoption and obesity.  Keep in mind that these stories are mostly negative.  Don't be discouraged; remember that the positive stories aren't news so they don't make the media.  These stories recount size bias that others have encountered on their journeys to adoption, stories about how some countries are now instituting stricter weight limits in their adoption guidelines, etc.  Do note that in most individuals' stories, the person in question was eventually able to adopt. - Story of a couple (Jim and Susan) who encountered size bias from the woman doing their home study, despite medical affidavits as to health history and prospects.  Here's an excerpt:

What we encountered was that the social worker we had (who was the head of the international adoption program) [had] a serious thing about anyone who was overweight (i.e.over insurance acturiarial standard fitness levels) - a presumption that they were going to die in the near future and leave the kid an orphan again. When we first ran into it (much to my surprise and Susan's horror), we asked what we could do to show that we were OK and were in good health.

The social worker...started us on a useless set of paper chases - we sent her statements from our doctors, and so on. I spent a day going through a hideously uncomfortable stress test to prove my heart and lungs were in good shape. Our doctor's report was tossed aside with a 'yeah, but so what - fat people die early, it says so on the internet'. (I'm not kidding.) Even a 'possible' hormone imbalance called PCOS with Susan (possibly indicative of her problems with fertility and contributing to weight gain) that the doctors brought up was seen as indicative of her early demise (because of a article [she] found on the internet about it!), regardless of Susan's doctors' statements to the contrary.

...In investigating further, we found that China doesn't care about your weight, Holt didn't care about our weight (we'd provided them with what our weights on their application which was accepted last November), and other local agencies and social workers were horrified when we described our dilemma. 'We don't play God', one of them said. Well, some people do.

Postscript Notes:  As noted in the article below, China has changed its policy and now DOES discriminate on the basis of weight.  However, these folks were able to adopt their child before this change of policy took place.  They were able to get around this biased social worker and finally get approved.  You can read about their journey to China to adopt their baby at:  Remember, this story had a happy ending because they persevered and didn't let the weight bias of one social worker stop them. 

-- - Story of an Australian woman who was denied permission to adopt by the Australian government because of her size.  Her husband was able to adopt the child, but she was not.  [Below is an excerpt from the story.]  This story was then discussed on the Big Fat Blog website.  The discussion was archived and can be read at

A 21-year-old woman says she is not allowed to adopt a baby because the West Australian government told her she is too 120 kg [264 lbs] the state government deemed her too large...[She] said the W.A. government believed she should weigh 98 kg [215 lbs.] or less.

--  - Brief entry about adoption and obesity bias

-- - "Too heavy to adopt?"   BBC News Story about a woman who is being denied the right to adopt a child based on a Body Mass Index of 28 (not even in the obese category!).  Here are some excerpts from the story, since the link may well become outdated at some point:

A quarter of the UK's population is obese, according to the measurements of the body mass index (BMI). But it's not just about health and looks - it can also affect whether a family can adopt, writes a reader in our Readers' Column who wishes to remain anonymous. 

The danger of the that not only is the scientific reasoning behind it questionable but once the bureaucrats get their hands on it, it goes from being a sensible guideline to a commandment; set in stone, non-negotiable. And it might well prevent me and my husband from having what we so desperately want: a family. 

My husband and I are loving, caring and healthy people, who want to share their lives with two little souls. We have been trying for a baby for six years now and we were devastated when I had a miscarriage three years ago. We then considered IVF but as I was 38 then, I was too old for the procedure on the National Health (I'd like to add that our fertility problems were not weight-related).  We applied to a national adoption agency and waited for months for a meeting with a social worker. It went well until she gently advised me that my weight would be an issue in my application. She said that prospective parents have to undergo a medical in which your BMI is measured, and that if it's too high your application can be refused. She said that I would need to achieve a mid-range BMI before the medical next year. 

I was astounded - I'm 5'4", and a plump 12 stone - most of which is carried in the bust area I suspect. Not ideal, but I didn't realise it could actually prevent us from adopting children. I'm fit, I exercise regularly and have no problem keeping up with the kids in the school where I'm a playworker.  The social worker explained the reason they don't want overweight adults is that they want to place children with parents who will have a longer lifespan, especially when those children have had traumatic pasts. 

I support that completely. What I'm not in favour of is the use of the BMI for the basis of this decision-making. When I registered my weight with my local GP's practice nurse, she found my story very bemusing.  She said she could understand my weight being an issue if it was likely to affect my health, but at 40, the little excess I carried so far showed no signs of doing so. My BMI is around 28 - at the top end of the overweight range. To pass my medical my BMI needs to be somewhere between 18.5 and 25....

If BMI could also be weighed up against how good we'd be as parents, I'd be much happier. They'd see that my husband and I are loving, caring and healthy people, who want to share their lives with two little souls who need the love and support we can offer - who, if I can reach a number decided in Whitehall, we can cherish, nurture, inspire and love for the rest of our lives. 

--China tightens rules on foreign adoption - JOE McDONALD, Associated Press Writer,Tue Dec 19,2006

China is imposing new restrictions on foreign adoptions, barring applicants who are unmarried, obese, over 50 or who take antidepressants, according to U.S. adoption agencies.

The restrictions are meant to limit adoptions to "only the most qualified families," said the Web site of one agency, Harrah's Adoption International Mission in Spring, Texas. The agency said China has pledged to try to make more children available to those who qualify.

Under the new rules, only people who have been married for at least two years will be eligible to adopt, according to Harrah's, the New Beginnings Family and Children's Services Inc. of Mineola, N.Y., and Families Thru International Adoption Inc. of Evansville, Ind. Beijing previously allowed adoptions by unmarried foreigners.

Among other restrictions, couples must have a Body Mass Index (a measure of obesity) of no more than 40 and be aged 30-50, with people up to age 55 considered for children with special needs, according to the agencies. The rules bar parents who take medication for psychiatric conditions including depression and anxiety or have a "severe facial deformity."

-- - December 25, 2006 article from Channel NewsAsia, discussing the new Chinese restrictions on adoption by obese people

Preference will be given to applicants who have a Body Mass Index -- a measure of how overweight a person is -- of lower than 40 to ensure Chinese children grow up in healthful environments, said Xing Kaimin, director of the China Centre of Adoption Affairs.

"We want to choose the most qualified applicants to bring up the children. If one cannot take care of himself, how can we trust them to take care of the kids?" Xing told AFP.

"Besides, obese people are more prone to illness, which means they cannot fulfil their commitment to take good care of the children," he added.

-- - Response from Dr. David Katz to the weight restrictions China has placed on foreign adoptions, decrying these restrictions as discriminatory and shameful


BBW Adoption Stories - [Big Beautiful Women Adoption Stories]

[Kmom is currently looking for more BBW Adoption stories to add to this FAQ.  If you have an adoption story you wish to share, please email with your story.  Please include specific permission to publish your story.]

Dawn French's Story

Dawn French is a comedienne from England.  She is one partner of the famous French and Saunders comedy duo.  You may have seen her on TV (especially on PBS) in such shows as "The Vicar of Dibley." She also played the Fat Lady in the portrait that controls access to the Gryffyndor Common Room in the third Harry Potter movie.  She is a plus-sized woman who does not apologize for her size and is active for size-acceptance in the U.K. 

According to one of her fan sites,, Dawn was discriminated against when she tried to adopt a child.  Here is the summary of the situation from the website:

"Dawn said that when she was going through the process of trying to adopt her daughter, the adoption agency went through over 6 months of investigation into her marriage, finance, home, etc. After this time, Dawn was eventually told that she was the wrong size for a woman of her height and so was therefore unfit to be a mother. Reluctantly, Dawn had to diet again. "

Reading between the lines, evidently she dieted down to their concept of an acceptable size and managed to adopt her daughter, then eventually returned to her normal size.  She and her husband now live quietly in England with their adopted daughter.  

Timiza's Story

Hi, my name is Timiza and I am a 36-year-old SAHM of two. Erika is 3 years old and Ciaran is 21 months. Here is my story...

I am someone who has always envisioned myself with at least 3 children!  I married a man with twins but as much as I love them....they  weren't calling ME mommy.  So, my DH and I started trying to start our family.  Getting pregnant was never the problem.  My first pregnancy I was expecting for 14 1/2 weeks before miscarrying due to a weak cervix.  My OBGyn was AWESOME!  He never questioned my weight and reassured me that a healthy baby was definitely in future!  The next time we would do a cerclage to hold the baby in. 

Well, DH and I tried again and you bet ya ...we were pregnant!  This time though, there was no heartbeat when we went in ... actually there is no FETUS!  I was carrying a fetus in my tubes but, on top of that, there was an unexplained mass on my right ovary.  Was it a cyst?  Was it the fetus?  What was it?  They went in to decide well the mass was indeed a low maligna cyst and the fetus was in my right fallopian tube.  They removed it all!  I awoke to being a one ovary woman ... I was devastated.  Would I be able to have children?  My Dr. assured me, "You only need one ovary; the other will kick in where the right one left off and will produce every month." 

So, after all the drama I just wanted a break ... I had actually said to my husband that I wanted to wait a year or two before trying again.  Here's what happened after that:

Erika was born into our hearts on March 17, 2003. She was 11 months old and the most beautiful little girl I had ever laid eyes on and she was going to be OUR daughter.  I literally couldn't believe it.  I remember the feelings scared, nervous, "Would I be a good mom?', all of the "normal" feelings one feels when their life is about to change dramatically!  We had 4 weeks to prepare for the arrival of our new bundle of joy and had to get EVERYTHING in that time. We didn't waste any time. With the help of my Mom and some saved money we had, we got a nursery together and child-proofed our home for the social worker to come and do a safety check.  We had 4 weeks of visitation and started the overnight visits as well.  

Our journey had an odd beginning.  My daughter is biologically a distant cousin of mine.  She came to our knowledge because she was on my husband’s caseload, which is where my husband noticed her great-grandfather from our wedding video.  Needless to say he was taken off the case. Fast forward to the end of the year, my husband’s co-worker asked if he wanted to adopt a baby? When my husband saw her he recognized her immediately and said YES, but let me talk to my wife.  The co-worker not really knowing what had just happened redirected my husband to her supervisor.  My husband called me and told me what was happening and I said absolutely !!!  I want her here now.   But, it wasn't that easy...we had to get it approved by all the powers that be and it was a special day when they said yes, this CAN happen.

The actual adoption happened August 26, 2004.  She was officially my daughter, my "baby girl."  It was a beautiful sunny day. We had family and friends there.

Oh yeah ...we found out we were expecting AGAIN on February 28, 2003! We felt so blessed.  I lost 2 babies in 2002 but I was given two more in 2003.  My very healthy and happy baby boy was born on November 1, 2003 at 2:26 pm weighing in at 8 lbs.,7 oz. and 20 1/2 inches long!  Am I happy? You betcha.

Now... I'm just wondering: Do I go for my 3????  [Kmom update:  Timiza is currently pregnant with #3!]

Sandra's Story

[Status as of 2/07]

After a very difficult pregnancy with our son that resulted in him being premature and me almost dying in Jan. 01 we decided to adopt our second child. We knew we wanted a girl so we decided on China. We went to some meetings and chose an agency in 2003. But then I got a constant headache that the doctors couldn't figure out the cause of or how to control it so we put it on hold. We started talking about wanting to officially start again in 2005. I joined a lot of adoption support groups for people adopting from China. I looked at pictures and read everything, but never felt excited about any of it. After several months of this I realized that either I didn't really want another child or China wasn't the right place. 

We then spent a lot of time researching domestic adoptions. Eventually we ruled it out because of wanting a specific gender and the mom having so long to change her mind in our state. So I got online and started looking at other options. Race was unimportant to us. When I came across Guatemala stuff I started looking at photos of girls who had been adopted from there. I came across a photo of a sweet baby girl that made me start bawling. I knew then and there that my daughter would be from Guatemala. 

I signed up online for several Guatemala support groups and started researching agencies. We signed with our agency in January of 2006. Then we started the paper chase and home study. The stack of papers involved is overwhelming, not to mention the cost. My doctor had to sign a document saying I was healthy and had a normal life expectancy. He also had to list my weight, blood pressure, and all medications I was on. I was a little worried about being judged because of my size (I weigh 270), but it never came up. Our social worker didn't even mention it. We had to be fingerprinted 4 different times because the govt. agencies won't share information. I am a very organized person but it still took us 6 months to get all of our documents done. We had a few typos on important documents that had to be redone, but of course it took forever to get anyone to do that. Our dossier was sent to Guatemala in Aug. 2006. 

We were told a referral would take 2-6 weeks, but no longer. At the same time my Mom was in the hospital, my husband broke his elbow, my son was starting kindergarten, and I was very stressed out. I just knew seeing that sweet brown face would make it all better. 2 weeks came and went, then 4, then 6, then 8, then 10. That week my mom unexpectedly had a stroke and passed away without ever seeing her granddaughter's face. That broke my heart. 

The agency had no explanation for why it was taking so long. 12 weeks came and went, then 14. At the point I wasn't sure it was ever going to happen. I believed that God would send the right child to me but the wait was excruciating!!! I went shopping for baby clothes on a regular basis just to remind myself that I really was expecting. 

After 17 1/2 very long weeks we finally got the call we were waiting for in December. Our daughter was born in Nov. 2006. She is beautiful and perfect. We get monthly updates and pictures. It is so hard to miss her newborn months, but I know we will be together the rest of our lives. [Soon] we fly to Guatemala to meet her. She won't be coming home forever until [this summer] but we will get to hold her and kiss her for a week while we wait... 


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