Adoption Support Forum FAQs

Adopting a child can be very fulfilling, but the process isn't easy – bringing home that precious bundle is often preceded by a long, difficult and heartache-filled journey. Our Adoption Support Forum is a supportive community where users share their adoption experiences.

Take a look at the questions most frequently asked and how other adoptive parents have dealt with and overcome the obstacles they had to face.

For more expert advice visit Family Law Expert.

Q: When should I tell my daughter that she was adopted?

I adopted my daughter 7 years ago. We have not mentioned a word about adoption to her and do not intend to anytime soon. Her paed advised us to tell her when she is older. My husband can't even talk about it, he gets very emotional. Do you think I am doing the right thing? I am so afraid that someone else might tell her. How do I go about it?

A: I am just wondering if you were ever counselled before adopting? The one thing we are told is that you should never keep it a secret because the more you keep a secret the more difficult it becomes to talk about. We are taught to talk about adoption from the time the baby is still young, before he or she can even understand what adoption means. I know I am not the best at doing this, but I still have a life story that I read maybe once a year to my daughter who is now aged 2, but as they grow older they also are going to start asking questions and it becomes easier. My advice would be:  you need to start telling, you don't need to tell the whole story but find a way of introducing the birth mom. If you find it difficult speak to a Social Worker they might advise you. One thing you can never hide is that your child is adopted; she will know and will hate you for lying to her.

Q: My daughter's biological grandmother keeps harping on about the blood link to her, how do I deal with this?

We try not to distinguish between biological and adoptive grandparents, e.g. if I email pictures of our daughter to the grandparents, I copy all of them. Unfortunately my daughter's biological grandmother seems to be making a point of telling my daughter how they are BLOOD family and REAL family. She explained about genes, and now my daughter attributes anything from hair, colour to taste in tv programs to the genes you get from your BLOOD family. When she gets upset at me she shouts that nobody cares about her and her REAL family. She also reports that her grandmother says our methods of disciplining are wrong. I find this deeply offensive. Not from my daughter's side but from the grandmother's. I feel she is undermining us as a family and causing unnecessary stress for or daughter and frankly for my husband and I who have to deal with our own feelings of aggression every time this comes up. Am I overreacting?

A: No you're not over-reacting. At the same time, the phase of being caught up with who they are genetically is quite normal. Ideally, one wants a grandparent who is sensible enough to think about someone other than her short-term need to celebrate "blood" . Unfortunately, there are no tablets for stupidity.

We have three beautiful adopted children. Both of us were/are academic achievers - my mother-in-law is very proud of this. Our children may not necessarily be A+ students. Yet, we do get regular commentary from one of the grandparents regarding academic achievement. Comments such as "you never know what you're getting, I guess we should be lucky he/she is bright". On every other level she is incredibly loving and kind to my children.

We are quite subversive in that we are raising our children to be dismissive of genetics and genetic heritage. It is really a way of helping them develop a protective shield against those unthinking comments as they get older. We say things like "aren't you lucky you don't have my toes, nose etc". We had one family member whose child said that he wished he had been adopted into our family (I think we indulge on the toy side). His mother's response, which she proudly told me "would you rather have your real mother or stuff?" ...... for once I was gobsmacked....

Relax, over and above normal parenting challenges which somehow adoption does not allow you to escape (I think it ought to be in the adoption constitution) we have the unique ones. On an equally light note, the next time she gets a really low mark for an exam..... ask her to ask Gran if it's in her blood.

Q:  After you have filled in your application to adopt, what process follows?

Please tell me what to expect after you have filled in your first application and what is the process?

A: Depends on whether you want a white baby or whether race is not an issue for you.   If you want a white baby it is going to be years of waiting, you may never get a baby. But if race is not an issue you should attend an adoption workshop, have a house visit and get your baby. I had my baby in 4 months after filling the application form.

Q: My husband wants to adopt my son, how do we go about this?

My son's biological father wants to give up his parental rights and responsibilities. My husband wants to adopt him. Has anyone gone through this experience? What forms to I need and where do I get them?

A: I went through this years ago, my child is now almost 20. My husband adopted her when she was two, I contacted the ACVV, but I think you contact child welfare now, unless you do it privately. It was quite a lengthy process took about two years.

Q: How in-depth is a social workers investigation?

When a social worker investigates an adoption, how "in-depth"  is this investigation ? Is the SW obliged to investigate to the fullest level any issues/concerns when it comes to the best interests of the children? Is there a service charter or service level agreement available that the SW needs to adhere to, and where can I find a copy of this?

A: I am not sure about the process for you to adopt your step-children, but the process we went through to adopt our son was very thorough... each and every agency has a different process but most importantly they need to convince the court you are a fit parent! They can have you psychologically screened, full medical incl. blood tests, home visits, police clearance certificates, marriage assessments, in-depth interviews the works. Your best bet would be to read up on the new Children''s Act as that is the minimum they have to do. And it is always done in the best interest of the child no matter what.

Q: Which forms do I need to do a name change for my son and what is the cost thereof?

We've been procrastinating about getting our son's name changed as it involves a trip to Pretoria. Where do we have to go to have his name changed, how much cash do we have to take with, do we have to take id photos of him with, how many certified copies of all his documents and ours do they require, do we have to take Adam with, can it only be done in Pretoria? We've got all the adoption forms and order.

A: I took the adoption order, and I think birth certificate with to Home Affairs. What I suggest you do is call your local Home Affairs and check what documents you need to bring. I went alone because they said I could, but when I got to the front of the queue after an hour and a half the person "helping" me wanted to know where my husband was. So I made a bit of a scene about the info they gave me on the phone and she did the transaction. We got the new birth certificate about 3 months later.

Q: What costs are involved in the adoption process?

I wonder if you could give me a rough idea of what an adoption costs. How long did it take (right from when you began the adoption procedures) before you got the call that you had been chosen to adopt a baby?

A: It depends on if you go through a welfare or private! We went through the Catholic Women''s League and they work out the fees based on your income etc. Our fees paid to the Catholic Women''s League were R9 500 (included the Marriage evaluations & tests); Medical Aid covered the full medicals, blood tests and psychological evaluation. We then had to pay the police R60 each for police clearance certificates.

We started an intensive screening process in middle May last year which was an hour to 2 hour long interview with our social every week for 8 weeks. They then presented us to the Panel for evaluation at the beginning of July and our son was identified end of July but we had to wait as his Mother was HIV + although he tested negative at birth and was given Nevirapine. We had to wait for his 6 week and then 8 week PCR test results to confirm he was HIV negative and we meet him on the 21st of September 2009 and took him home on the 23rd of September when he was 8 weeks and a couple of days old. We weren't allowed to meet him before all the test results where known as they didn't want us to become attached to him and then have everything fall through.

Some of the welfare agencies are extremely understaffed, we started the process with Jhb Child Welfare in February and were warned the process would be long, by May they'd still done nothing or arranged even our first interview we moved to the Catholic Women''s League. We phoned the Catholic Women''s League and had our first interview 2 days later... and things moved fast from then on. Our process took about 5 months.

His adoption was accepted in court on the 26th of November, and we received his original birth certificate and final adoption order in March this year! Now we just have to go to Pretoria to effect his name change.

Q: I'd like to become a foster parent, how do I go about this?

I have two kids of my own, but I'm thinking of going the route of fostering a kiddie. Either that or letting a kiddie stay over some weekends and holidays. Has anyone done this? Also, (probably going be stoned for this but it is my preference) would I be able to "request" (for lack of a better word) a white child? I know there aren't any white babies up for adoption, but I know that there are older white children in children's homes. As my kids are still young I was thinking of a boy/girl around the same age (between 3/4 -8/9). It really upsets me when reading/hearing about all these kids that have no family or family not interested in them, and I get so angry on their behalf. It really is so sad that these kids have so little and our kids have so much yet don't appreciate this (if you know what I mean?)

A: I am currently a weekend/holiday mother to a 12 year old girl. We have a daughter of our own aged 5. We started off by getting involved with a local children's home. Taking the kids on camps, doing home work etc. It is true that these kids come with a lot of baggage. When we decided to take a child over weekends and holidays we specified that we don't want a boy or a child that's been sexually abused, due to the fact that my daughter is still very young. The social worker was amazing. We knew everything about the girl before taking her. It also helped that we already knew the kids, and was aware of their problems. It is not always easy. We are now starting the process of adopting this girl. It is important to understand that these kids already dealt with rejection over and over, don't start something that you can't see through. They need tons of love and acceptance.

A bio-mom's tale

'Well life here is good, my son I gave up for adoption is already 14 months, wow can't believe it.
His mommy and daddy go through so much trouble with letters, pictures, and even dvd's of clips of him swimming, laughing playing ect. I got Christmas cards, and a valentine card with his hand and foot print in WOW, I am so blessed to have him with such AMAZING parents. I even got a letter from one of their friends thanking me!! Well, I'm engaged for about 3 months now, will be getting married 24 September 2011, my parents can pay for wedding so we have to save 18 months to get married and have wedding we all dream about. I'm working now with one girl that is 6 months pregnant and going the adoption route, it was hard in the beginning but now I can see the impact I make on her life, and that is amazing.
I'm also seeing 3 other pregnant girls, 2 are keeping the babies, one not sure, I'm not so involved as with first one but I'm there, and I believe it's a calling on my life to help pregnant unmarried girls making right decisions. I still don't think I would have been so well off if it wasn't for all the amazing help I got on this forum, so once again THANK YOU!'

(Health24, May 2010)

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