The adoption process

Whether you are unable to conceive or have always wanted to give a child a good home, once you've made the choice to adopt you have to make sure you understand the process that you will go through before you add to your family.

There are two processes from which to choose. You can either adopt through Child Welfare or adopt through a private adoption social worker. Child Welfare is the state system and payment for their services works on a sliding scale according to your income. Whereas private social workers charge a set rate for their services.

The Child Welfare Route
  1. Phone your local Child Welfare office and find out when their next information meeting about adoption is.
  2. At the information meeting the process will be explained to you and you will be given forms to complete.
  3. Complete the forms which include family histories and medicals for the prospective parent(s). The medicals need to be done by your doctor and involve blood tests for HIV and syphilis.
  4. Ask three non-family members who know you well to act as your referees. They will be approached by the social worker to write a testimonial for you.
  5. After you have submitted the forms you will be called for interviews, first as a couple and then individually. If you are a single parent, you may have interviews with two different social workers or just one interview. In the interviews you will be asked why you want to adopt and the kind of child you would like to adopt.
  6. Next the social worker will come and do a home visit. At the home visit the social worker will inspect your home and interview you in your home setting.
  7. Then you will attend a group session with other prospective adoptive parents. At this session you will deal with negative social attitudes to adoption, the importance of “telling” (being open with your child about their adoption), express your feelings about infertility (if that is an issue), and learn how to prepare your profile.
  8. Now you need to prepare and submit your profile. This is a photo album of your life to give the birth mother an idea of who you are. In most cases a birth mother will be given a range of profiles from which to choose.
  9. Now you wait to hear if your application has been approved or not. If you are approved, you will be told you are on the list.
  10. Once you are on the list, you wait until you get the phone call saying there is a child for you. A child can only be released for adoption once the birth mother has gone to court and signed the adoption papers.
  11. When you get your child there is more paper work to complete with the social worker and you need to go to the magistrate’s court to sign the papers.
  12. If you adopt a newborn baby, there is a sixty-day period during which the birth mother can change her mind and cancel the adoption.
  13. Once the adoption is finalised, Home Affairs will post your child’s original birth certificate and the order of adoption to you.
  14. If you want to change your child’s name, you need to take the original birth certificate and the order of adoption to Home Affairs and fill in forms. Then you wait for about a year to get your child’s new birth certificate.

The Private Adoption Route
  1. Contact the private adoption social worker of your choice. Each private adoption social worker will have her own process.
  2. The typical route is to have a lengthy meeting with the social worker to discuss the process, your reasons for wanting to adopt and the kind of child you would like. At the meeting you will complete forms with the social worker. At the end of the meeting the social worker will tell you whether you have been approved or not.
  3. Then you need to submit proof of income and your profile (see Step 8 of the Child Welfare route). The social worker will also come and do a home visit.
  4. The same Steps 10 to 14 for the Child Welfare route usually apply to the Private Adoption route.
If you've already adopted, how was the process for you?
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