A lot of folks have asked me about the new rules because the media is covering it with their usual eye toward informing the public in an accurate and non-sensational fashion. (Was that too sarcastic?) Some of this may sound a little harsh, too, so fair warning.
So, why new rules? For the reasons I laid out in my Why China? entry, China has a very popular IA program. This popularity, in combination with a number of other internal factors, had led to this rapid increase in the waiting time from LID to referral. Last time the CCAA saw such an increase they put in place a quota system. Each agency could only send X number of dossiers based on a percentage of their past submissions. The CCAA had hoped that agencies would submit only their most-qualified applicants (ones who at least fit the CCAAs guidelines and for preference ones with no issues needing reviewed.) This apparently did not happen. So this time, CCAA decided to put in place some new, more stringent guidelines for applicants rather than an absolute quota.
Here’s a link to the new rules for those interested in reading them. The ones people are up in arms about are the new weight restriction (BMI of 40), the money restrictions (over $80,000 in assets) and the physical and mental health restrictions (e.g. no cancer in the past 10 years, no anti-depressants in the past two years.) Also, the no singles restriction but there hasn’t been nearly as much hand wringing on that one. And before you ask, the new rules do not apply to us. Our dossier is grandfathered in or at least one of the new guidelines would have tripped us up. But we should be able to qualify for a second adoption as well, if that is where we decide to go. We shall see.
Let me first say that I DON’T believe that meeting the new criteria makes you a better parent. I don’t think that lack of money or the existence health issues etc. stops good parents from being good parents. Some of the best parents I know don’t have much money or have health issues of one sort or another.
But the CCAA is NOT really looking at whether this couple or that person might or might not be the most loving and devoted parents. They are looking at whether this couple or that person will have sufficient material resources and live long enough to raise a child to adulthood. These kids have already been abandoned once. The CCAA’s main goal in matching with a-parents is to make sure that doesn’t happen again, whether it be through a disruption of the adoption or the death of a parent. In the CCAA’s estimation, their guidelines give the greatest chance of the parents still being around when the kid hits 18.
Also, more pragmatically, they are hoping that this will eventually reduce the wait time. It won’t help in the immediate future, especially not with everyone scrambling to be LID before the guidelines go into place on May 1st. But in the long run these more stringent requirements probably will reduce the number or applicants.
I also want to point out that China has every right to set whatever hoops in front of a-parents that they wish. They have a popular, ethical program that is still growing despite all the negative press. And frankly, they are still much less stringent than South Korea! It is also important to note that these are guidelines by which the CCAA will judge the applications for adoption. There has been no change in the actual laws of the PRC. That means at any point these guidelines can change.
So, please, media, and disappointed PAPs everywhere, pay attention to what the CCAA is really trying to accomplish with these new rules. Please think about the big picture and stop it with the knee-jerk reactions (STILL going on in the adoption community, btw.) I know it is heart-breaking to be in the middle of things and have to change course. Trust me, going from being told 6 months to “well… maybe this year” is killing me slowly. But it is the ride we signed up for. There are NO guarantees in International Adoption.