Sharon van Wyk is The Blessed Barrenness and blogs about life with her beautiful adoptive kids.
I am a mother of two children via adoption. At the time, when we decided to pursue adoption as a form of family creation, we looked at all our options: working through an NGO, via government or through private practice.
Ultimately, after weighing up our options and looking at the pros and cons of them, we decided to go the private route as it seemed the least likely to drag out unnecessarily long and the most likely to have a positive outcome – a family.
Read more about adoption via our adoption hub
After reading about the new proposed laws governing adoption in South Africa, I have read up and spoken at length with those working in this field. The general consensus is that of all the adoptions finalised in South Africa, around 80% of those are private adoptions done with an accredited adoption social worker.
What will happen to 80% of these adoptions, to 80% of these adoptable children, now with the change in law?
I do not believe this is in the best interest of the child, which is, in my opinion, what should be the number one consideration when dealing with vulnerable and adoptable children – WHAT IS IN THEIR BEST INTEREST?
Also read: OPINION: Adoption amendments deny opportunity to most vulnerable children
What will the new laws mean for children?
A loving, qualified family. A sense of identity, a sense of belonging. That is what adoption offers vulnerable children who will, with the new laws, most likely land up trapped in legal limbo, trapped in a system that is understaffed and not necessarily properly trained. Trapped in a system that will see them drift into adulthood with no strong ties to anyone or anything.
Ask me, I know, we had to deal with the Department of Social Development to finalise both our daughters’ adoptions. It was the most frustrating part of the entire process, aside from dealing with Home Affairs, due to inadequate and poorly trained staff.
Now they will be responsible for handling the entire process? In my opinion, this spells disaster for the vulnerable and adoptable children of South Africa. It is NOT in their best interest.
What about planned placements and birth mothers?
Additionally, what about planned placements? Birth mothers who choose to place their children for adoption? Birth mothers who plan placement and don’t choose abandonment – what will happen to them? Will they receive the necessary counselling prior to placement? Will their physical and emotional needs be met by a poorly staffed and poorly trained system that is in my opinion doomed to fail? Are we not then failing these mothers too?
I really do not believe that a planned placement is the same as child protection and these should be handled separately when there are plenty of qualified potential adoptive parents who are able, and more importantly, wanting to adopt these children.
Also read: "It will deny thousands of orphaned and abandoned children permanent families": Concerned psychiatrist on the proposed amendments to adoptions in SA
What about adoptive parents?
And potential adoptive parents? Will they be counselled, supported and professionally taken through the process? By a department that is already short on resources?
It’s my opinion that these new laws will do nothing but place additional and unnecessary strain on a department already under pressure. But most importantly, I do not believe there can be any winners here, not birth parents, not adoptive parents and most importantly, not the adoptable or vulnerable children of South Africa.
How do you feel about the potential for adoptions to become the sole responsibility of the state? Share your opinion with us and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.