OPINION

You Cannot Adopt, You Are Too Fat

February 14, 2009
Dr Bhaskar Dasgupta

One of the things which I deeply regret in my life (and there aren't many of those, I promise), is the fact that I was not able to adopt here in the UK, and all because of those interfering busybodies in the social services. The range of exclusions and factors were very bizarre. You are a Hindu so you cannot adopt a Christian or Muslim baby! You already have a child so its not fair on others. You are of a brown race so you cannot adopt a white child or a black one and so on and so forth. Thank god they didn't say that I was too fat or too tall.

I can only tell you anecdotal evidence that the number of Asian foster and adoptive parents are significantly lower than white parents. While I can understand and know about cultural and religious factors (such as purity of bloodline, casteism, Islamic reasons and the lot), still, when one does want to adopt, they find it very difficult.

I am still furious about this situation. And that's something that really gets me going every time I read about this. These bloody awful social services people are simply too interfering. They actively force kids into fostering and force them into a horrible situation of not having loving parents. These people are seriously well meaning, but as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

But hold on, the social services did say this to this couple.

The letter the couple were sent by Leeds City Council, signed by a team manager and seen by the BBC said: "I am writing to confirm that we are unable to progress an application from you at this time.

"This is due to the concerns that the medical advisers have expressed regarding Mr Hall's weight.

"I have discussed this with our medical adviser... who considers that it is important to alter lifestyle, diet and exercise in a sustainable way so that any weight reduction can be maintained in the long term.

It went on: "I understand that you would like to begin the assessment as soon as possible and while appreciating your reasons for this, I consider it would be more appropriate to begin the assessment once Mr Hall's BMI is below 40."

What on earth is this? This is bureaucracy gone mad. Who gives them the right to play god and prevent a child  from having a good family home? Where is it written that fat people are not good parents? Both my parents have had pot bellies and look what I turned out to be (perhaps this is not such a good example…), but all joking aside, this is ridiculous.

While they will take decisive action on stopping kids from being adopted, they dither such as in the case of Victoria Climbié or Baby P. Makes me want to weep for the missed opportunities for the poor babies. Also see this brilliant take on this story.

Then comes news of the fact that a foster parent has been struck off the rolls just because a girl in her care has converted to Christianity. What did the council say?

But council officials allegedly accused her of failing to ‘respect and preserve’ the child’s faith and tried to persuade the girl to reconsider her decision.

So these council officials can literally be prosecuted (and will be, as I understand) for violating the fundamental rights of both the mother and the child. More I read about this and the more upset I get.

They said that she should have undergone counselling to ensure that she understood the implications, especially as such conversions are dealt with harshly in some Muslim countries. In April, council officials told the girl that she should not attend any church activity for six months, so that she could reconsider the wisdom of becoming a Christian. The carer was also instructed to discourage the girl from participating in any Christian activities, even social events. The council then told the carer there had been a breakdown of trust and in November removed her from the register.

Just because some countries have medieval and frankly stupid views on conversion (like India and many Muslim countries) does not mean that I am happy to let the UK also be ruled (in howsoever small a way in a council) by those intellectually vapid theories. Makes one’s blood boil to read about the social service care.

Then you read this interview of Sharon Shoesmith trying to excuse herself. Yes, there was a witch-hunt, but no hint of an apology. This is fast becoming the face of officialdom. Nothing, nobody is to blame, but yet, a baby has been tortured to death, the mother/father/lodger in prison, some people have been fired, but what is happening? Then this woman has the effrontery to try to defend against what the inspectors said

The inspectors' report into her department criticised everything from insufficient supervision by senior management to poor record-keeping and a failure to identify children at immediate risk of harm.

I know they are doing a good job under trying circumstances, but by God, some of these lot are hideously incompetent and by and large, the entire social services department is full of some very strange principles.

And at end of the day, there is an orphaned baby and two loving adoptive/foster parents who are not together. A tiny tragedy in the great wash of humanity, frequently overlooked in the big news about Israel-Palestine wars or the great Credit Crunch issue.

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Dr. Bhaskar Dasgupta works in the city of London in various capacities in the financial sector. He has worked and travelled widely around the world. The articles in here relate to his current studies and are strictly his opinion and do not reflect the position of his past or current employer(s). If you do want to blame somebody, then blame my sister and editor, she is responsible for everything, the ideas, the writing, the quotes, the drive, the israeli-palestinian crisis, global warming, the ozone layer depletion and the argentinian debt crisis.
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You Cannot Adopt, You Are Too Fat

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Author: Dr Bhaskar Dasgupta

 

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#1
annamma
February 14, 2009
09:27 PM

Its probably easier to adopt here, then. There is a long waiting list though, in most good (ie, well-run, legal, trustworthy) orphanages. Here, too, they try tro match adoptive parents to the children, and try to ensure that the whole family will be supportive, which delays the process somewhat. But I haven't heard of any nonsense like you're too fat to adopt!!

#2
smallsquirrel
February 14, 2009
09:46 PM

annamma, if by here you mean India, there are horribly strict rules there, too. Not about weight, but you have to be an Indian citizen and the other list of rules goes on and on and on. also the hoops you have to jump thru are never-ending, and most people give up before they get the baby.

BD, I have friends in the UK who are gay and went thru hell trying to adopt and in the end they were discounted because of some sham. It seems the UK does everything possible to stop adoptions. It is depressing. So many kids needing homes and yet nearly impossible to adopt one from anywhere.

I will tell you that Japan has now opened up, and they have a straightforward process. You might want to try that.

#3
Amitabh Mitra
URL
February 15, 2009
01:56 AM

No problem, here in South Africa
Anything can be arranged

#4
BD
URL
February 15, 2009
02:54 AM

well, in India, we can do that as well. It is not difficult if you can go down the slightly illegal way. Know a maternity home? loads of single women get there to deliver the baby and cannot manage to take the baby home, orphanages get the maximum number of babies from there. So if you want, you can do that, nip over to the local home, speak to the nurse in charge, some money changes hands, and bob's your uncle.

And yes, SS, it is horribly depressing. Which is why so many british parents ended up in romania and china and and and to pick up kids for adoption.

Which is also the reason why fostering has become a business here. Can you imagine that? because they make it so difficult to adopt, there are families who will have many kids at the same time and somewhere it said that the avg number of foster parents per child over 11 years would be about 4. Now what kind of a child are you raising with 4 sets of foster parents? Its just ridiculous.

But I am still hoping to get a good answer to why Indians do not adopt more.

#5
annamma
February 15, 2009
11:53 AM

It depends on the community. Quite a few in my community adopt.

Several communities also have the custom of childless couples adopting a relative's child (rather than a total stranger from an orphanage).

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