Tom Jordi is a man with a colourful CV. He started out in Law, moved into Education and Youth Ministry and then into Finance. He’s also a counsellor to primary school children, and a dad blogger with a passion for transformation in a South African context.
But it seems that being a dad is his true calling
The father of four, along with Debbie Wybrow, attorney and children's rights activist, and Robyn Wolfson Vorster, writer and children’s rights activist, are calling on South Africans to sign a petition to stop the proposed Children's Act Amendment Bill from being passed.
They plan to present a letter to the speaker of Parliament, asking that the Bill be sent back, and further consultation sought so the Bill can be reworked to truly make it in the best interest of children.
“At the end of the day, the Children's Act Amendment Bill, in its current form, cannot be seen as furthering the best interests of children,” Tom told Parent24.
The proposed changes
In short, if accepted, the proposed amendments will result in specialist social workers no longer being able to charge professional fees, raise funds, or recoup their costs for guiding and facilitating the adoption process. Other professionals such as lawyers and psychologists will also be prevented from assisting with the adoption process.
The fallout of this is that private social workers will no longer be able to fund adoption services.
Professionals working for Child Protection Organisations, who are entitled to partial subsidies, will also struggle to survive, and eventually only under-resourced and over-worked government social workers will be left to perform adoptions.
2.8 million orphans
South Africa has 2.8 million orphans and more than 3500 children that survive abandonment every year.
“There are approximately 500 000 adoptable children in South Africa, who deserve to be part of a family,” Tom explains. Government social workers currently have a case load of between 100 and 300 each.
Father of four
Tom and his wife have adopted three kids themselves.
The couple has one biological son, one adopted son and two adopted daughters. Tom says they always wanted to make adoption part of how they would grow their family, so when, after the birth of their eldest, the couple struggled to fall pregnant, they continued with adoption as the means to grow their family.
“Our reasons have been informed by our faith and belief that as Christians, we have been accepted and adopted into God's family and should do the same for others,” Tom says.
“We have also felt very strongly about practically meeting the needs of the most vulnerable and can't accept the notion that we can live in comfort whilst others experience none.”
“Build a longer table, not a higher fence”
“There is a wonderful saying that says "If you find yourself more fortunate than others, build a longer table, not a higher fence," Tom told us, “and we love that we get to be privileged enough to have four amazing, different children around our table every day.”
Tom says the idea that other children may not have the opportunity to find forever loving families was their motivation to begin the #childrenmattersa petition.
“No child should be without a loving family and a safe space and people to call their own. There is no motivation which could ever justify keeping a child without a family or delaying the process of finding one unnecessarily.”
Adoption figures are already low
Adoption figures are already low and dropping yearly - there were only 1 186 adoptions in 2018. One expert has gone so far as to predict a complete end to adoptions within two years.
“I was also stunned by the lack of understanding of the importance of adoption in the context of a country where approximately 3500 children are abandoned every year,” he told us.
Tom also says the current orphan crisis in South Africa cannot be resolved without increasing the number of people willing to make adoption part of their family planning.
“Looking at the number of adoptable children and the rate of adoptions year on year, we are in danger of having generations of children growing up in institutional care rather than loving families, and despite the best efforts of many places of safety, no one with any understanding of the needs of children could ever honestly compare the two as being equivalent.”
“Children need loving caring families, nothing else comes close.”
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