For years he and his wife yearned for a child and when their daughter suddenly arrived their world was turned upside down.
But Fagin Saunders wouldn’t change a second of it, and when he’s called "dad" his heart fills with love.
“I’m overcome with joy when I hear it,” he says. Fagin and his wife, Celeste, of Brackenfell, Cape Town, adopted their toddler, Kirsten, when she was just more than two months old in 2011.
“My purpose in life has extended beyond my expectations for myself and I look forward to every stage of her life,” Fagin says. Johannesburg couple Robyn Wolfson Vorster and Neil Vorster feel the same way after adopting Asha (3) in 2012 when she was five months old.
“Asha has been an incredible gift to our family. She’s delightful, with an amazing talent for engaging with people and making them feel special and loved,” Robyn says.
Adoption has given people such as the Saunders and Vorsters the chance to have or grow their families.
"She's perfect in every way"
Celeste says she was told she had little chance of conceiving. “We started fertility treatments and it was a roller-coaster ride of disappointment,” she says.
So they decided to stop the treatments and rather adopt, and approached Magdalena Huis in Bellville, which provides an adoption service and support to young pregnant women in need.
It took six months from starting the process to being approved to adopt and the biggest delay was the police clearance, which took four months.
“We were blessed as we were ‘preggies’ for only two months,” Celeste says of the wait to be told there was a child for them. “I was on a work trip when the social worker called to say they had a baby for us,” Fagin says.
“Five days later we fetched Kirsten. Family and friends were told and within three days the Saunders home went from one baby mat to overflowing with baby goods,” he says.
It happened so quickly, Celeste says. “On our first day we just stared at her, not sure how we were going to do this thing called parenthood. Bonding with Kirsten was tough because she was feisty and crampy.
"Fagin was and is a very hands-on dad, which made things easier. I also had four months’ maternity leave, which allowed us all to bond.”
The couple say their daughter is full of life and intelligent. “But most importantly, to us she’s perfect in every way,” Celeste says.
"She's a constant reminder that love changes lives"
* The Vorsters already had a four-year-old son, Luke – conceived through IVF – and were battling to have a second child. They approached Impilo Adoption Agency and Child Protection Services in Johannesburg after hearing good reports from a relative who’d adopted through them.
“The process was administratively intensive but compared with fertility treatment it was relatively easy and a lot less emotionally taxing – other than the wait, which was excruciating!” Robyn says.
“It took 11 months from our first meeting with our social worker until we met Asha.” They didn’t consider adopting a white child. “That was partly due to practical considerations – it’s almost unheard of for an older couple (Robyn was 40 and Neil 47 at the time) with a child to be eligible to adopt a white child.
"But more than that, it genuinely wasn’t something we desired,” Robyn says. The couple have told Asha she’s adopted and found dealing with a trans-racial adoption easier than they’d expected. “Adoption is a natural part of our family conversation,” she says.
“She’s a constant reminder that love changes lives.”
*This story was published on YOU in 2015.*