The Orphans

Blocking Adoption for People with Obesity in Ireland

This is nothing but explicit, outrageous bias at work. The Times reports that Tusla – the child and family agency of Ireland – assigns “negative recommendations” to people with obesity who want to adopt a child. Of course, a medical clearance is a routine part of the evaluation for people seeking adoption. If someone has overwhelming medical issues, it makes sense that those issues might get in the way of parenting.

But blocking adoption based on the mere presence of obesity is absurd.

Reversible, Poor Behaviors

Tusla seems to think that obesity is simple – a reversible condition that results from bad behavior. They told the Times:

An applicant may be given a negative recommendation on a number of issues. However, some of the issues can be addressed through health promotion initiatives. Consequently, applicants can suspend their applications until they have had a chance to address them.

While Tusla makes every effort to assist applicants in addressing poor lifestyle behaviours that may lead to a negative recommendation, sometimes these conditions cannot be reversed. Tusla’s ultimate aim is to safeguard the welfare and protection of children and, to that end, must put their needs first.

Let’s be clear. These assumptions about obesity are simply and completely false.

Putting Children First

Without a doubt, protecting children is laudable. However, telling potentially loving parents that they’re too fat to adopt has nothing to do with protecting children. Instead, it reflects a lazy assumption about the health and character of a person based on size.

The fact is that obesity will have no effect on a prospective parent’s capacity to love and care for a child in most cases. Severe obesity with complications might be a different matter.

But that’s not what we’re hearing from Tusla. They are equating obesity – without qualification – with “cancer, enduring mental illness, and degenerative diseases.”

Obesity rates in Ireland are among the highest in Europe and growing rapidly. Because obesity is so common, size has no place in the important process of evaluating potential adoptive parents. It’s most likely to screen out people who would be fine and fit as parents – causing harm to all.

Click here for more from the Times.

The Orphans, painting by Nikolaos Gyzis / WikiArt

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March 8, 2019