China plans new rules to make it tougher for many foreigners to adopt Chinese babies. The rules affect tens of thousands of prospective parents. Benjamin Robertson has more from VOA's Beijing Bureau.
The new rules will bar people who are obese, single, over 50 years old, or on anti-depressant medication from adopting Chinese babies. Prospective parents also will need to have been married for two years and have no more than four children.
The China Center for Adoption Affairs is the government agency in charge of adoptions. Its director recently told Chinese journalists the measures are needed to ensure the highest possible quality of parents as increasing numbers of foreigners apply to adopt babies.
The agency says obese people are more likely to suffer from ill health and have shorter life expectancies. It also thinks married couples are better than single parents. By introducing stricter criteria, the agency also hopes to reduce the adoption waiting time.
In the past 10 years, foreigners have adopted more than 50,000 Chinese babies. The majority of parents are from North America and Europe.
David Yuntz, the president of the New York chapter of Families with Children from China, a support group for families who have adopted Chinese children, says China has one of the most organized adoption systems in the world.
He says the new rules will disappoint many hopeful parents, in particular single adults. He thinks the new regulations may be in response to domestic concerns about China's international image.
He said, "We have seen other countries that place children for international adoption become worried that the country is getting a reputation for not being able to take care of its own children."
"As China becomes more modern, I think there may be an element of not becoming comfortable with having so many children placed abroad," he continued.
Under China's tough population control law, most couples are allowed to have only one child. A traditional preference for sons means that large numbers of baby girls are abandoned at birth and placed in often poorly funded government orphanages. Over 90 percent of babies adopted are girls.
The proposed rules take effect in May. The China Adoption Center says before the final version of the rules are set, it will consider any feedback from international adoption organizations.