Adoption rate slumps as orphans increase

2012-07-10 00:00

WHILE the number of orphans is on the rise, more and more South Africans are turning away from adoption — preferring foster care.

A research paper released by the Institute for Race Relations showed that in South Africa between 2005 and 2009, the number of orphans in the country had increased by 29%, from just over 4 million to about 5,2 million.

It said the rate of adoptions over the same period had declined by 52%, but the number of foster care grants had increased by 72%.

Lerato Moloi, a researcher at the institute, said it was expected the number of orphans would increase to 5,5 million by 2015.

The institute said that according to data from the Department of Social Development, there were 2 840 adoptions in 2005 and these decreased to 1 368 in 2009. A total of 281 475 foster care grants were issued in 2005 and these increased to 483 800 in 2009.

It said the trends could be attributed to three main factors.

Firstly, adoptions are not a frequent choice among South Africans, especially amongst blacks.

“A lot of orphans are looked after by their extended families or family friends in a private, informal arrangement known as kinship foster care.

“This type of arrangement is widely practised in South Africa even though it is not ordered or regulated by any statute or legal body in the country,” said Moloi in a statement.

Statistics South Africa estimates that 1,4 million children (eight percent) live in such households.

Secondly, formal foster care comes with a financial incentive. The foster care grant is currently R770 a month. Many people opt to foster a child rather than adopt one.

Lastly, adoption requires that families be able to provide for the child’s needs, financially and otherwise.

No financial assistance is provided by the government. In addition, the adoption process is a lengthy and demanding one that often acts as a deterrent to prospective parents.

Moloi said none of this was good news for the increasing number of orphans.

“The Actuarial Society of South Africa estimates that by 2015 there will be more than 5,5 million orphans. Some 32% of these will be maternal, 56% paternal, and 12% double orphans,” said Moloi.

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