"It will deny thousands of orphaned and abandoned children permanent families": Concerned psychiatrist on the proposed amendments to adoptions in SA

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"Nothing is better than being part of a loving family"
"Nothing is better than being part of a loving family"

The government proposes that all adoptions are facilitated and administrated by the state, and that it would become illegal to charge for adoption services, rendering private adoption agencies powerless. 

We recently published an opinion piece by Western Cape Minister of Social Development Albert Fritz, in which he sheds light on the pitfalls of government's proposed amendments to the Children’s Act, specifically how the possible changes impact adoption. 

See the full article here: OPINION: "Adoption amendments deny opportunity to most vulnerable children"

Here, a Parent24 reader and psychiatrist shares his reasons the potential legislation poses a problem in general and specifically a mental health problem for the country's vulnerable children:


"The overstretched state social workers won't be able to take on the vast number of cases"

"I am appalled by the proposed amendments to the Children’s Act which will have the unintended (or possibly intended) consequence of denying thousands of orphaned and abandoned children permanent families.

Outlawing fees for any adoption-related activity will mean that private adoption agencies and child welfare branches will have to lay off staff and stop doing adoptions as they won’t be able to cover their costs.

The state will have a monopoly on providing adoption services but under-resourced and overstretched state social workers won't be able to take on the vast number of cases.

The whole system will cost the state (and therefore the taxpayer) more money through continuing foster grants and having to pay for the costs of adoptions (if any happen) and where is this money going to come from?


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.  


"Nothing is better than being part of a loving family"

It seems some in the department honestly think that children raised in foster homes or child-headed households is a better option than adoption when all the evidence says otherwise. Nothing is better than being part of a loving family. 

I understand cultural sensitivities and concerns about black children losing touch with their culture if they are adopted by non-black parents or adopted abroad, but the reality is that many of the children in care are abandoned by their parents and nothing is known about their culture of origin.

For example, many illegal immigrants abandon their babies because they run the risk of being deported if they give birth in a state facility. Simplistic assumptions of ethnic origin are simply not realistic unless the birth parents are actually identified. 

If the state truly wants to broaden access to adoption by offering fee-free adoptions to poor families in SA, then that will be fantastic, but there is no conceivable reason to stop private agencies and child welfare agencies from continuing to cover their costs through charging very reasonable fees.

Alternatively, the state could pay the private providers a set rate and reimburse them for the service provided seeing as though every private adoption (in theory) frees up a state social worker who would otherwise have been involved.


Also see: Everything you need to know about adoption in South Africa

Here's our section on adoption-related articles.


"The government risks another tragedy similar to the disastrous Mbeki approach to HIV"

I recently spoke to a child welfare organisation in KZN and they said they receive 3 abandoned babies a week.

The newspapers are filled with stories about babies abandoned in pit toilets, drains, shacks and outside hospitals and police stations. Condemning these children to a life in foster care or children’s homes just increases the trauma and disadvantages that these children will face in life.  

As a healthcare professional, I have seen first hand the mental health consequences caused by early childhood neglect, abuse and abandonment.

The government risks another tragedy similar to the disastrous Mbeki approach to HIV where people were denied effective and life-saving drugs on the basis of a lack of understanding of the scientific evidence base and cultural bias against western pharmaceutical companies."

Yours sincerely, Martin Schmidt, Consultant psychiatrist

Chat back:

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.  

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