The process of adoption in South Africa

As an adoptive mother, counsellor and author, I often get asked if adoption is a difficult process.

The answer is not a simple one but instead I have to ask an important question first: What is your race preference? It may sound like an odd question but it really makes sense.

If you look at the demographics of South Africa, it’s fairly obvious that the vast majority of adoptable children are black.

If you are looking at adopting a black or coloured child then I would say that the process is simple, reasonably efficient and quite fast. The process can between 6 and 18 months from start to finish. In many other countries applicants can wait 2 to 5 years before their adoption is approved.  

If your answer is that you want to adopt a white baby, there are considerable hurdles: 
  • The number of white babies up for adoption is very limited.
  • Some agencies close off applications for white babies as they simply have too many.
  • Other agencies put an age limit on the adoptive parents.
  • The application can take up 5 or 6 years to process or it may never happen.
An efficient process

The cost and the efficiency depend very much on which adoption agency you choose to apply through.  Generally speaking, the government agencies are cheaper due to funding but slower due to understaffing and overloading. 

Private agencies charge more and are therefore able to employ more staff and get through more cases. It’s important to note that income is not a factor in adoption. Any person who is unable to afford the adoption fees must still have their application processed. 

The adoption process

In a straightforward adoption, where the child is unknown to the adoptive parents, the process should follow these steps:
  1. Orientation session where all the details are explained.
  2. Complete the application forms and return them to the agency.
  3. Complete a personal profile and return it to the agency.
  4. Apply for a police clearance certificate.
  5. Undergo psychometric testing.
  6. An interview with a social worker.
  7. An interview with a panel of social workers.
  8. A home visit by a social worker.
  9. Final approval.
  10. Wait for baby to arrive.
It may sound like a lot to do but if you have a good social worker, she will guide you and tell you where to go and what to do at each step.
There are approximately 1.8 million adoptable children in South Africa so if you want to start a forever family, I would recommend adoption any day!

What was your experience with adoption in South Africa? Share with us below.
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