Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Obese Man Finally Allowed to Adopt Son!

Back in July, I wrote about a case in which a married couple was not allowed to adopt an infant because the husband was obese. The couple seemed exemplary in every way. They already had a seven-year-old son, whom they had adopted from foster care. When a cousin of theirs was having trouble caring for her infant son, the couple volunteered to be the baby's foster parents. They cared for the child for several months, and planned to adopt him. But when they went to court to get permission to begin the adoption, a judge ruled that the husband was too obese... and they immediately took the baby away.
Now, baby Max is eight months old, and has been living in a different foster home for the past four months. The prospective father who had been too obese to adopt Max, Gary Stocklaufer, recently underwent gastric bypass surgery and lost two hundred pounds, hoping it would help him in his fight to adopt Max.
But Max's new foster family also wanted to adopt him! In fact, last month when the judge ruled that the Stocklaufers could have Max back and continue with the adoption proceedings, the other foster family refused to hand the baby over to the Stocklaufers! They kept the baby with them as they attempted to continue fighting to adopt him.
Finally, this week, the judge ordered that little Max be transferred over to the Stocklaufers... and the baby is now staying in what will hopefully, eventually, be his forever home.
Although this is a happy story because the Stocklaufers got Max back, it is also a sad story. The other foster family had Max with them for more than five months, and they longed to be his forever parents as well. The judges involved in the case now say that the original decision to remove Max from the Stocklaufers' care had nothing to do with Gary's weight, but was due to the fact that the couple didn't follow the correct procedures when they originally brought Max to live with them. (The baby was born in Texas, where his birth mother lives.) However, no matter what the reason was, it seems silly that a baby should have been removed from the Stocklaufers' home in the first place... especially since the baby was a relative of the couple's! The infant's birth mother had specifically asked the Stocklaufers to take Max. Whatever procedures and red tape the couple overlooked could have been dealt with, without disrupting the babv's life.
Now, although the Stocklaufers finally have their baby, another couple is heartbroken because they no longer have theirs.... and an 8-month-old baby has been separated from the people he knows as his parents, for the third time in his short life!
Hopefully the two couples will be able to keep in touch, and Max's former foster parents will be able to stay a part of his life.

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