Saturday, July 25, 2009


I just read this article, Women Overcomes Obesity to Adopt Child, and I am absolutely livid. An overweight woman who has endured infertility and multiple miscarriages is told that she cannot adopt because she is too fat.

"They said I wouldn't really have a chance to adopt the child I wanted
unless I lost the weight," [Melanie] King told the Daily Mail. "I was told because I
wanted to adopt a young child, I needed to be active enough to run around
and look after them.”

Sure, alcoholics and crack addicts are allowed to be parents, and neglectful parents at that, but G-d forbid that a fat person be allowed to have children.

Fat is the only thing that people feel that it's OK to joke about now, and I am just sick of it. From this article to movies like Shallow Hal, Norbit and The Nutty Professor, we loudly proclaim the message that it's OK to make fun of fat people and that fat people are dirty, disgusting and bad. (Yes, I am aware that these movies try to teach a lesson of tolerance and inner beauty, but that lesson is given short shrift in order to answer the immediate demands of making fun of fat people who wear large underwear and break chairs).

Desperate to build her family, Mrs. King embarked on a drastic and dangerous liquid diet. She was able to lose 112 pounds, and thereby become eligible to adopt a child, but at what cost? Who knows what damage her body endured or what the lasting effects of this torture will be?

I too have been told that I would need to lose weight in order to build my family. Not because I am not active enough to keep up with children, but because my clinic's insurance is worried about the possible side effects to anesthesia in obese people. Not because I would be a bad parent, but because an insurance company is more concerned about an amorphous risk. I call this "amorphous" because we are using IUIs, which don't require anesthesia, so these rules are simply there to prevent me, someone with no infertility factors, from being able to determine when and how I will build my family.

As long as I am healthy and active, i.e., blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar are in the normal range and I eat healthfully and exercise regularly, then the only thing that my fat prevents me from doing is wearing designer clothes and competing in the Olympics. My fat should not prevent me from building my family. It's no one else's business but mine.


Meghan said...

uggg...I was really hoping that was a link to an Onion article...not something legit. How ridiculous!!So in order to be a adopt one needs to be able to run around with their an amputee or paralyzed person wouldn't be permitted to adopt...of course an agency would never say that! That'd be discrimination, right???

LJ said...

What fucking kind of bullshit is that? I'm sorry, but whatever child you have will have one of the kindest, sassiest, coolest, and fucking energetic mothers around. I'm sorry, but this kind of discrimination and flat out bigotry just pisses me off.

Lorza said...

yup. I have heard that in past also about people being turned down for adoption b/c of obesity. It is horrible if you ask me. I don't know where- but I read somewhere also (news article maybe?) about a couple getting turned down b/c the mom had high blood pressure and hypothyriodism. WTF?!??! But honestly- obesity? 112 lost through liquid diet? What narrow minded blinder ridden short sidedness is that?!?!??! I agree with you. I don't like movies like Shallow Hal or the Nutter Prof. Either..I didn't even like them when I was skinny- especially not now that I am overweight. They are just wrong.

Anonymous said...

That's pretty freaking absurd!!! You can be an alcoholic and being addicted to crack and pop out as many kids as you want, but God forbid you want to adopt and help a child! Pure love for a child was turned down because of weight. What a shame :(


'Murgdan' said...

Absolutely ridiculous. The requirements placed upon those who can't get pregnant are standards that, if made a rule for the fertile population for reproduction, would be protested in outrage as eugenics.

In order to reproduce with my husband I must be under a specified BMI, have a certain amount of money, pass a psychological evaluation...and then, only then will I be given a pass.

The hoops for adoption are even greater.


S said...

I agree. Outrageous!

noswimmers said...

Amen, sista! What a bunch of crap.

~Jess said...

It's ridiculous and OUTRAGEOUS! One of the things that always pisses me off is that it's OK to make fun of fat people: No it's not, it's mean and hurtful.

Anonymous said...

Totally disgusting. I think China has a BMI standard for international adoptions.


Amy said...

China does has a BMI standard - and you can't have any "mental illness" which would include depression. So, that wipes us out on the China adoption even if I did lose weight just because my husband had a super-hard time after his dad died. It's just bullshit completely.

Liddy said...

That is ridiculous.

I cannot believe the hoops that people instate. We have to have a license to drive a car... but not to have a kid. It is a really screwed up world.

E has games at 9 and 1 on Saturday. Not sure about Sunday.

SassyCupcakes said...

I know weight is one of the reasons we might be "disapproved". Unfortunately it's up to the individual workers so there's no guidelines on what is too fat to adopt. It's all so hard and complicated enough that bringing our weight into it just makes me wonder if it's even worth trying to get approved sometimes.

What I hate most about that article is that it says to every other fat woman that she obviously doesn't want it enough if she's not prepared to go an insane liquid diet to lose the weight like that woman. The 2nd worst thing is the comments which are just revolting.

battynurse said...

I know I too have heard about the BMI thing for China adoptions. This is just sad though.
I remember reading in a fictional book (but still true) that discrimination against weight is the last socially acceptable form of discrimination. This is soooo true. I have spent the last 7 months putting up with a coworker who makes daily comments about fat people in general.
I know that I have some health problems because of my weight and I'm trying to deal with those. I'm sick of people thinking bad of me because of my weight though.

Anonymous said...

I hate that...I have no energy to be coherently indignant today...I just hate all that bullshit.

Love you, though. :)

Parenthood For Me said...

Yeah, it sucks when you can't be fat or gay or single or of a certain age in order to adopt a child.

wifey said...

Ugh. It pains me that the world is still so discriminatory towards larger folks. My mom is overweight, and my heart breaks for her when some a**holes feel the need to make comments.

Once, we were in a crowded store when I heard someone very close in proximity to us start making piggy noises, clearly directed at my mom. Adonis himself? Oh heck no: middle aged, paunch, balding, bad teeth. I told him to hit Extreme Makeover before he criticized anyone else.

I think your clinic's policy sucks.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I admit I was unaware of the fatness thing with adoption. Like others said I did know about the China and the BMI rating thing. I do know that if you have a health condition that shortens your life span that can make adoption difficult. Does severe obesity shorten lifespan? I really have no idea. When I heard about that life span thing I thought of AIDS and HIV. Hmm...

MissMeliss said...

Agreed. :(

Add to that, us single folks have just as hard of a time, if not harder, than people dealing with this issue.

(who did adopt from china before the "rule" change)

Shinejil said...

And how is a person supposed to feel good about themselves and act with confidence, as a person, as a parent, after such an extreme and unfounded blow to their self-esteem? Why is it a good idea to totally undermine someone's sense of worth in order to prepare them for parenthood?

annacyclopedia said...

I missed commenting on this when I read it the first time, so I'm glad it appeared in the Roundup today so I got another shot.

I completely agree - this is total bullshit. It is unfounded discrimination of the worst kind because it makes all kinds of assumptions that don't even need to be examined to see that they are completely ridiculous and false.

I'm also horrified at your clinic's application of the rules - even if it were acceptable to turn someone down for treatment due to anesthesia risks (which it's not, in my view), why the hell should that rule apply to you, who is obviously not in need of that part of treatment?

So much wrong in this world.

Deb said...

Although I can understand the outrage here, I'm about to be the devil's advocate. This woman wasn't just slightly overweight and in fact is still not stick thin or unhealthy looking, although I do question the way that she lost the weight as healthy. "According to the National Institutes of Health, obesity and overweight together are the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States, close behind tobacco use (3). An estimated 300,000 deaths per year are due to the obesity epidemic" Being the daughter of an obese mother. and as I don't speak for everyone, I will just speak for myself, it lead to many issues growing up that would not have been issues had she been of average or slightly above average weight.

This is certainly a very touchy subject and no blanket policy is ever going to be fair, but when it comes to adoption, their only concern is the best interest of the child. And that best interest may not be a skinny mother either. I was denied medical insurance for being underweight, so the pedulum swings in both directions. So you just never know.

Kami said...

I am here from the roundup and I both agree and disagree with you. I mean this to be a respectful reply and I hope it will come across that way.

First of all, I agree completely that it is wrong that we think it is ok to pick on fat people. My theory is that it is an issue that is all too obvious. We (as a society) might disparagingly call someone a drunk and look down on him, but we might not even have a clue. Sadly, a weight problem is difficult to hide. So we treat the alcoholic better than the person dealing with a weight issue.

I think we also have more compassion for other addictions / disorders / whatever you want to call it. We can say, "Wow! That must have been hard to stop smoking. Good for you!", but not give the same respect to someone who can't just give up food entirely, but has to mitigate the amount of food.

Imagine AA suggesting, "Please continue to drink, just don't drink too much." I think people would think they have gone off their rocker. Yet, this is what we ask of overweight people.

Finally, I want to say that I do understand that obesity can be an issue with metabolism, with the way our society is set up, with addiction and/or control issues, with income (lower income people not being able to afford healthier food), etc.

Here is were I disagree or don't quite understand. Yes, crack addicts can be parents but so can obese people if they don't have trouble conceiving. Who would let a crack addict adopt? (If it was known of course). I think most, if not all, potential adoptive parents are judged. Why else would we have home studies? I don't know that an agency / government should decide if a person is too fat, but I suspect a birth mom may take it into consideration.

Finally, as someone who did everything in my power to try to conceive - from changing the way I eat to the way I think to what I do and don't do - I have a hard time understanding why people aren't willing to lose weight to be more fertile. Sure, it might not help, but what if it did?

Oh, and the fact that you don't need anesthesia to do IUI should exclude you from that requirement.

I don't know much about you or where you are on your journey so I hope this was received in the way it was intended. Good luck to you in building the family you want.

Another Dreamer said...

Amen to this post.

You know what really gets me angry about the whole thing, is people saying... oh well, there's risk if you do get pregnant and you should think about that...

Obese people get pregnant on their own and carry to term, and no one would tell them that they were irresponsible. But if you go to use fertility treatments, all of a sudden there are barriers.

I have a post building on that one, but I'm letting it stew for now.

Infertile In the City said...

That is hard - and a little nuts - but clearly her desire to adopt meant more to her than anything in the world, just as my desire to have a family keeps me doing crazy ass stuff, because I have to, because it means more to me than anything, so would I loose weight if I had a gaurentee of a family in the end HELL YES (I would walk on hot coals, totally change my lifestyle, what ever it takes).

PS - I hated hated hated Shallow Hal and could not watch the movie - it made me cry and i really don't think it is acceptable to be mean to someone based on appearances.

Rachel said...

I'm a lurker, I guess. Just came across your blog recently and was looking through, and this post, specifically the last paragraph, really hit home for me. I have a history of difficult periods, and after years of B/C pills, I underwent a ridiculous number of tests because a doctor took one look at me and said "Overweight. You've got PCOS." No matter that an ultrasound showed no sign of cysts, he insisted that must be it, because I was overweight. The number of tests I had to go through to satisfy him that it wasn't PCOS was absurd. I eventually even underwent a laparoscopy to try to get some answers. None of it worked or helped, but years later I found relief through acupuncture. After that experience, I (understandably, I think) have some trepidation about TTC. My husband and I hope to begin soon, but at my last regular gyn appt, I was read the riot act by a doctor about my weight. I am not morbidly obese, but I am a big girl. I recognize that I am at higher risk for blood pressure issues, and that my weight may make it a little harder to hear a heartbeat on a doppler. On the other hand, I've always been physically very strong, and similar to you, I work out 3 times a week, eat well, have normal/low blood pressure, and am good about what I eat 90% of the time. Why hasn't the weight fallen off? Because I have a very low metabolism, and I have to restrict myself to about 800 calories a day to lose weight, even with moderate exercise. I refuse to live my life that way, as cooking is my passion and stress-relief.
This is a long comment, especially from someone who hasn't even started TTC yet. I just wanted you to know that your post resonated with me, I understand a little of your frustration, at least with this particular aspect of your journey, and I sympathize. I am excited about TTC, and it's sad to me that a little cloud hangs over it...I fear that even if I am able to conceive naturally and easily, as everyone hopes for, I will have to deal with shame and put-downs at every pre-natal appointment.

tbonegrl said...

It makes me sick, you are so right on with this post. I wish people could just stop making it harder on people with IF who want to be parents!

I'm here from the creme

T Lee said...

Here from the Creme-

I completely understand your outrage- and am seething a bit myself at the moment. What will it take for people to understand that we are not all made to be thin, that you can be big AND healthy. Weight says nothing about what kind of person (or parent) you are. Ugh.

Lut C. said...

Popping in from the crème de la crème list.

You're spot on in this post. And insurance companies dictating what health care should look like is just plain wrong.

And I better start working on my diet. :-/