Reports on adoption guidelines 'misleading'
Senior official says rules are aimed at ensuring children go to stable homes
Top civil affairs officials have accused western media of 'misleading prospective overseas parents' about Beijing's tighter rules on international adoption of mainland babies, according to state media.
'China hasn't changed its adoption policies,' Lu Ying, director of the China Centre of Adoption Affairs, said in an interview with the People's Daily, adding foreign adoptive parents should not feel deterred by the reports.
In the past 10 years, more than 50,000 mainland babies have been adopted by overseas nationals, with most adoptive parents coming from North America and Europe.
The new restrictions, which come into effect in May, have been reported by international media and have not been well received by thousands of foreign couples hoping to adopt.
But according to Mr Lu, the new guidelines, which favour healthy, and emotionally and financially stable married couples, are only a 'priority management method' to solve present problems and where subject to review.
He said that in the face of rocketing numbers of overseas applications, the centre felt it had to take 'concrete measures' to shorten the waiting time to protect the children's interests.
China's growing wealth means the stream of available infants from orphanages for families in the west has dwindled in recent years. Mr Lu said as more mainland couples chose to adopt, demand was outstripping supply. 'At present, the adoption time frame has increased to 14 or 15 months,' the newspaper quoted Mr Lu as saying.
He also said the centre acted on suggestions from some international adoption agencies to differentiate families according to certain criteria and to give priority to 'better-off foreign families'.
Under the new criteria, prospective adoptees will have a lower priority if they are singles, homosexuals, aged under 30 or above 50, couples married less than two years, divorcees who remarry in less than five years or unhealthy, including those with a body-mass index over 40, on anti-depressants or who have HIV/Aids.
Mr Lu said the rules were designed to allow the government to be more selective in choosing parents for the good of the children.
'This method can speed up the adoption process and ensure Chinese kids, especially the disabled, land in high-quality families, which are more capable of providing them with better medical treatment and education, and a more nurturing environment.'
Xinhua quoted another centre official, Xing Kaimin, as saying the new criteria were not meant to prejudice less-qualified applicants.
But in an earlier interview with the China Daily, Mr Xing said obese people were more likely to have shorter life expectancies, which could affect the adopted child.