Is adoption for me?

The decision to adopt is life-changing, whether based on an inability to conceive or the simple desire to grow your family. If you’ve been thinking about it, read on before you start the process.

A 2016 report published by Statistics South Africa states that there are 468,000 orphans in South Africa. Adoption can be one of the ways to help give them a stable and happy life.

How do I adopt?

Your journey should start with an accredited adoption agency or an accredited adoption social worker working within the statutory accredited adoption system, who will facilitate the process. You can choose to use an agency, a private social worker or Child Welfare, or a Department of Social Development social worker.

Next, you will be required to submit to a screening. This involves a check of your lifestyle and background, the stability of your relationship, your income and expenditure, and your readiness to provide a home for a child. This step will involve interviews, a home visit, police clearance, psychological evaluation and checking you as prospective parents against the National Register for Sex Offenders. You will also be informed about what exactly adoption involves. After the necessary checks have been completed, the adoption team will review the application and make a decision based on whether you are suitable candidates in terms of the Children’s Act. This process could take as long as 6 months.

Prospective parents will also state their preferences, including gender, race and age, as well as whether they are willing to adopt a child with special needs, a child who has been abandoned, or a child put up for adoption by their birth mother. The agencies will do their best to consider these preferences and make a suitable match when both the parents and a child have been declared eligible. The entire process from start to finish could take up to 1 year.

What types of adoption are available?

There are 4 types of adoption to consider:

  • Non-disclosed adoption: there is no relation between prospective adoptive parents and adoptive children, and no identifying details are disclosed to either party
  • Disclosed adoption: identifying details are disclosed
  • Family adoption: a child is legally adopted by the spouse of the biological parent or family member
  • Foster-care adoption: A foster parent is given first preference when a child in foster care is cleared for adoption

Is there a cost?

Depending on the organisation chosen, the costs vary from around R12,000 up to R60,000, which, according to the South African Government website, includes group orientation, interviews and counselling, home visits, a home-study report, court processes, birth registration, administration costs, aftercare services, and origin and enquiry tracing, and, in the case of private organisations, may include support for the child’s birth mother.

Who can adopt?

In accordance with the Children’s Act, a child may be adopted by:

  • A husband and wife
  • Partners in a permanent domestic life partnership
  • Other persons sharing a common household and forming a permanent family unit
  • A widow or widower, or a divorced or unmarried person
  • The biological father of a child born out of wedlock
  • A married person whose spouse is the parent of the child
  • The foster parent of the child

The adoptive parents need to be 18 years or older and South African citizens or permanent residents.

For confidential assistance, contact your CAREWAYS EMPLOYEE WELLNESS PROGRAMME; SMS your name to 31581 and the Care Centre will call you back.

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a legal professional. E&OE.

References:

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