Everything you need to know about adopting

By Drum Digital
11 July 2014

Many South African families who are looking to expand their families and can’t do so by having a child of their own biologically, consider adoption. However, some potential parents might be scared off by the seemingly complicated process. We tell you everything you need to know if you’re considering adoption to start or extend your family.

Who can adopt?

The process of adoption is governed by the South African government through the Children’s Act (Act 38 of 2005). According to the act, the following people are eligible to legally adopt children in South Africa:

  • A husband and wife (jointly),
  • Partners in a permanent domestic life partnership,
  • Persons sharing a common household and forming a permanent family unit,
  • A widower, widow, divorced or unmarried person;
  • A married person whose spouse is the parent of the child;
  • The biological father of a child born out of wedlock; or
  • The foster parent of a child.

Types of adoption

It’s important to consider the types of adoption that can take place in South Africa and note the differences between these.

  • Closed adoption: Birth parents have no control over the placement of their biological child. The adoptive parents will also know little about the history of the birth parents and the child being adopted.
  • Open adoption: In an open adoption, the birth parents specify the type of family they’d like to adopt their child. The birth parents and adoptive parents are acquainted and communication channels between the two are open.
  • Semi-open adoption: As suggested this is a combination of an open and closed adoption. The birth parents will have a say with regard to where their child is placed and will have some measure of contact. However the preference of the adoptive parents will be considered first.

What does the adoption process entail?

The only way to legally adopt a child in South Africa is through an accredited adoption agency. The first step would be to make contact with an adoption agency.

A social worker will then be assigned to your case. Alternatively you can make use of your own social worker.

Once the adoption agency and social worker have been chosen the screening process will begin. This normally includes orientation meetings, interviews with the social worker, full medical checks, marriage and psychological assessments, home visits, police clearances and the checking of your references.

Once this screening is complete, adoption applicants are placed on a waiting list for a suitable child. Any preferences regarding race or sex are taken into account. Once a suitable match is found, the official placement of the child is handled by the South African Children’s Court.

Where to start

Go to adoption organisation Addoption’s website for a comprehensive list of accredited adoption agencies and social workers. Remember, the decision to adopt is a big one and you and your family should take your time to consider the impact of it on your lives.

Share your story

If you’ve adopted a child or intend to do so, please share your story with us on Facebook.

-Lindsay de Freitas

Sources: adoption.org.za, services.gov.za, adoptmom.co.za

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