Local adoptive mom shares words of advice regarding the adoption process in South Africa.
There is a national crisis with children being orphaned, with figures ranging from 3.4 million to nearly 4 million abandoned children. While some projections have suggested figures as high as 5.2 million.
The good news is that many people, whether they have biological children or not, are adopting. Mostly interracial adoptions too. But we need more adoptive parents coming forward to adopt.
Whether you are a couple or a single parent, it does not matter. You can adopt. If adoption is tugging at your heart, there is a reason why.
What role does government play in adoption?
The Constitution makes way for adoption in South Africa. According to the provisions of Section 242 of the Children's Act (Act No. 38 of 2005), your adopted child is now, for all purposes, regarded as your child, as if born to you, and you are now considered as the parent of the adopted child.
Therefore, you are personally responsible for registering the child under his/her new name and surname at the Department of Home Affairs nearest to you, except when otherwise provided for in the adoption order.
Legally, the government is there to help aid you adopt a child. Unfortunately, there is frequent inefficiency in state departments, and the state department responsible for adoptions is the Department of Social Development (DSD).
Along with the Department of Home Affairs (HA), who plays the role of providing documentation.
Read: Adoption as a solution to infertility is 'viewed with suspicion' in some families
The proverbial brick wall
If you're on this incredible life-changing journey and you've hit your head against a brick wall, and you're not sure where to go:
1. Pray. Prayer has seen us through. Make sure that you have people also praying for you and your child/ren.
2. Ensure you have a passionate and knowledgeable social worker fighting for you and fighting for your child/ren.
3. Persevere. Do not give up. This is a journey that is worth fighting for. That is one worth doing.
4. Be focused and stand together if you are a couple.
5. Never give up hope. Do not give up at the first hurdle, or even the twentieth hurdle, because there will be hurdles. When you're adopting a child, you are helping to fulfil your child's fundamental human rights. Nobody, no government official and no social worker can take that right away from a child.
Much patience will be required to deal with government departments, where systems are often slow, offline, or non-existent, especially during the last year dealing with the pandemic.
Be organised, have colour copies of your original documents made (and officially stamped by the police or a local notary) before handing them over to a government department, in case they go missing.
When handing in documents by hand, ask for the government employee's name, and request they sign for them.
Try to be as organised as you can. You will be making many, many colour copies of a wide variety of official documents in the adoption process.
Amid all the bureaucracy and red tape, remind yourselves why you are doing it and that the hassle and hurdles you are jumping through are worthwhile.
The adoption journey is not always a clear cut one. And there are grey areas. Even though constitutionally interracial adoption in South Africa is something that one can legally do, there is a huge need. Sadly some social workers and magistrates are not pro interracial adoption.
They do not recognise that a child needs a nuclear family, that a child has a fundamental right to be loved, and parents who invest their time, energy, finance and love in them. They're not always interested in this.
Instead, they would stay in a children's home and perhaps be fostered but not necessarily adopted. And this is something that many adoptive parents do hit their heads against, and it's something that you do need to be aware of before you start your adoption journey.
*The views and opinions expressed above don't necessarily reflect that of Parent24 or Media24.
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