Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Overweight People Not Allowed To Adopt Children?

I have heard stories of foster parents and foster children being discriminated against for all sorts of reasons. For instance, foster children have been removed from the homes of potential adoptive parents because the child was of a different race or ethnic background than the foster parent, because the foster parent was a single parent, because the foster parent was gay, or whatever. Each time that happens, I think its such a sad thing! In a country where so many children are abused, and so many children are waiting for forever families, to deny a child a family because of something so superficial is just ridiculous and shameful.
And now, it seems that authorities have found yet another reason to discriminate against foster parents and foster children!
Gary Stocklaufer, of Independence, MO, may look like a really tough guy... He's an over-the-road trucker and weighs 500 pounds... but he has a heart of gold. He and his wife, Cynthia, have a 7-year-old son whom they adopted six years ago. And recently, he volunteered to be a foster parent to the infant son of a cousin who couldn't care for her baby. Gary and Cynthia fully intended to adopt the baby, Max, who has been living with them for three months now. But in a court hearing, where the family expected to be granted permission to adopt Max, they were told that they could not adopt the baby after all... because of Gary's weight.
After the decision was made, baby Max was removed from his home, and placed in a different foster home, leaving behind a brokenhearted thresome... the people who thought of themselves as Max's mother, father, and big brother.
The judge said that Gary would not make a good enough parent, because his weight put him at risk for health problems and mobility problems.
Some points to keep in mind here are the fact that Gary and Cynthia already have a 7-year-old, and Gary's weight does not stop him from being active and playing with his son. Nor does his weight keep him from working. My dad is a trucker, and so I know that being a truck driver is a lot more than just sitting up in a truck seat and driving... there is a lot of physical work involved, a lot of heavy lifting and moving around.
Plus, it is obvious to me that Gary and his wife are very warmhearted people. They were specifically asked by Gary's cousin to adopt her child. she hand-picked these people to be the parents of her baby. And before they were asked to be Max's parents, they were already thinking of adopting another child. In fact, after watching a TV show where a 5-year-old with dwarfism was living in a children's hospital while awaiting a forever family, Gary wrote to producers of the show to inquire about the possibility of adopting another child with dwarfism who was awaiting a home. (He'd heard that children in foster care who have dwarfism sometimes have trouble finding forever families.) Gary also volunteered as a clown at the Shriner's Hospital. This is obviously a wonderful father. It is so sad that this judge has denied Max the opportunity to grow up in a home with such a loving family!
But this story may turn out to have a happy ending after all! Since the hearing in which Gary and Cynthia lost custody of Max, they have vowed to continue trying to get Max back. And three separate doctors have offered to help out by doing weight loss surgery on Gary, to increase his chances of convincing the court to give Max back.
Lets all hope that, now that the world is taking notice of this case, little Max will be reunited with his family as soon as possible!


amaras_mom said...

Discrimination seems to rear its ugly head in some of the most unlikely places. The court system should be more concerned about keeping safe the children that are in abusive homes, rather than taking away children in nurturing ones.

icancarryallthebagsandthebabiestoo said...

People who are overweight in our weight obsessed country are the most discriminated against. Worse, they have no advocates and people who are willing to insist that they are just as capable of working, thriving and caring for children as the slimmest jim in town.

I am horrified by this story.

Gloria said...

I detest this! So just because he is overweight, does that impairs his ability to love and care for another human being? What nonsense! There are many parents out there who ARE overweight and is raising remarkable children! What is wrong with the system?? Does everyone have to be as fit as Brad and as slim as Angelina and as sculpted as Madonna to be able to adopt? If this is concern about the children's wellbeing, then why not be concerned about them being adopted by Hollywood-ster, whom we all know have perfectly perfect marriage and lives?

Sorry...I know I sound catty in this comment, I'm not usually like this but this issue is just an outrage. I'm fuming!!