This is an article published on 9 Sep 2013 on the front page of The Times
Alleged homophobia and pro-Christian bias by South African adoption agencies have sparked an investigation by the SA Human Rights Commission.
The Times can today reveal that complaints by families and adoption organisations in South Africa, the US, Europe and elsewhere have led to the inquiry.
A well-placed source within the commission revealed that several South African adoption agencies and the Social Development Department were being investigated .
Human Rights Commission spokesman Isaac Mangena said the commission was investigating allegations of discrimination by adoption agencies in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
“The complaints received are that the criteria used by South African agencies are discriminatory and contravene the constitution and the Children’s Act.”
The Social Development Department – whose spokesman, Lumka Oliphant, failed to respond to questions put to her by The Times – is the only entity that can accredit South African adoption agencies to undertake South African and foreign adoptions.
The commission told the department and the adoption agencies about the allegations against them three weeks ago.
The department is accused of accrediting adoption agencies even though its aware of their discriminatory policies.
According to the 2011 census, 3.3million South African children are orphans – more than half of them because of HIV/Aids.
The National Adoption Coalition estimates that there are between 1.5million and 2million children who would benefit from adoption.
Only one in 500, however, is adopted.
A report last year by parliament’s portfolio committee on social development revealed a decrease in adoptions.
The report said: “In 2010-2011, there were 2236 nationally registered adoptions compared to 1426 in 2011-2012. There were 200 registered inter-country adoptions in 2010-2011, compared to 194 in 2011-2012.
“This is despite the department reporting that it achieved a 65% increase, which is a percentage against the annual baseline target of 2500.”
Prospective adoptive parents from overseas allege that most agencies overseeing inter-country adoptions discriminate against homosexuals, non-Christians and single individuals.
South Africa has 10 countries with which it has adoption agreements, and seven agencies that oversee such adoptions.
ABBA Adoption Agency – which is being investigated by the commission and which facilitates adoptions with at least seven countries – was in November required to change its policy when the Social Development Department’s Central Authority found it had discriminatory criteria.
The authority’s a doption n orms and s tandards do not allow discrimination in respect of race, gender, language, religion, disability or financial means .
A copy of ABBA’s new policy was submitted to the authority.
It reads: “Until recently, South African adoption organisations could set their own policies and criteria . as long as they did not conflict with the law or directly infringe on anybody’s constitutional rights.
“We can therefore not have discriminatory blanket policies that exclude any prospective applicants purely based on one of the above-mentioned factors.”
Two western European couples, who have been trying to adopt in South Africa for over three years, have slammed ABBA. They claim their sexual orientation and religion have delayed the process.
One of them, a homosexual couple who have been married for 10 years,want to adopt a pair of siblings.
ABBA is the only South African agency approved by the department to facilitate the adoption of South African orphans by residents of the home country of the two couples.
ABBA requires prospective parents to be:
- Christian (proved by a letter from a church);
- Heterosexual (mixed-sex couples); and
- Married for at least five years.
“Adoptive parents are in a very vulnerable position … they depend on the organisation involved on whether they will be allowed to start a family,” one of the couples said.
South African-born entrepreneur Michelle Delport, who now lives in The Netherlands, is heartbroken and frustrated by her six-year adoption struggle.
Though willing to adopt three children she will, in two years, be too old to qualify. The cut-off age for inter-country adoptions is 46.
“On many occasions it was made clear that my single and non-Christian status put me at the end of the list.”
ABBA Adoptions executive head Katinka Pieterse refused to comment on the allegations.
“The process needs to be followed … it might make more sense to report on it after all the facts have been explored and presented,” she said.
Childline’s Joan van Niekerk said: “Adoptive agencies are required to act within the law and protect all parties.”
This programme on adoption was aired on Talk SA on SABC in August 2013. It’s a very informative show with a great cross section of people interviewed. Watch by clicking here and let me know what you think.
The South African law (Children’s Act) is very clear when it states that the adoption process is all about the best interests of the child and NOT the wants of the adoptive parents. Adoption is seen as a placing a child with a family that will be best suited to providing love and stability rather than focusing on the wish list of potential adoptive parents.
Often parents looking to adopt have preferences and define what type of child they want to adopt. They have an idea in their mind regarding the age, gender, health, skin colour and the list can go on and on. According to South Africa law, this will be considered but is not the most important part of the process.
There are so many children waiting to be adopted in South Africa (just under 2 million) that you might assume, making a wish-list and getting it fulfilled would be easy. Often it is not. Many people wait for quite a while when they have specific requests – particularly around wanting a White or Asian baby.
Should adoptive parents be allowed to have specific requests? Is it fair to request one gender over another or a specific age group or should adopting a child be purely altruistic and left up to “the universe” and the courts?
Have you applied to adopt and found that you have been asked to relinquish certain wishes or preferences? I would like to hear your experiences in the comment area below on on my Facebook Page.
The wait for your precious gift seems to take forever. I felt like I spent every moment preparing for the second my child would placed with me and then when it actually happened, life became a whirlwind! Sometimes everything you planned seems to be irrelevant. Life seems to be in 6th gear and time starts flying by. Before you know it your one year anniversary (Gotcha Day) has arrived and you realise that you have no professional baby photographs of your child. I booked my first batch of professional pics of my son was when he was already 11 months old.
Make sure that this doesn’t happen to you. Every moment is so special and time cannot be reversed. It’s something so precious to look back at old photographs and be reminded of those special memories. Shots-of-Tots owner, Tiffany Lumley, understands how special these moments are. She takes infant and child photographs and has the ability to make them timeless and to capture the unique qualities of your child.
These photographs can be used in your child’s adoption life book. Both you and your child will be truly grateful one day when you look back at the memories locked within these photographs.
Your child will probably not have any scan photos or birth photos so once your application to adopt has been approved, start looking for a photographer in your area and remember to book a session as soon as the placement is made.
Have you completed your child’s Adoption Life Book yet? My son is 8 and has started to ask all sorts of questions about his roots and how he came to be my son. Luckily, my fabulous social worker told me this would happen right about now and suggested I create an adoption life book in advance so that I would be ready for this day. I Googled some American websites and found some really lovely ideas which I combined with my own ideas to create my own personal & unique adoption life book.
According to many websites and social workers, this compilation should be collection of life events in your adopted child’s life that they will be able to look back on one day and see where they came from. Often the moment when your child asks about their history can be tense and sometimes upsetting for you and your child. Be prepared and make this easier to explain and for them to understand by having an adoption life book ready for them.
This book should include photos where possible and also integral information about your child before he or she was placed with you. You should include place of the birth and any details you might have about the birth and information about your child’s birth parents. If they went to foster parents, what happened from there and how did you end up becoming a forever family.
The adoption life book I created a while ago has been in the cupboard waiting for the right time. Finally, my son asked some questions and when I pulled out the book, his face lit up. He is so crazy about books and reading and now to have a book all about him and his roots….well the excitement was simply gorgeous to see. He loved paging through the photos and reading the small captions. It is such a fantastic idea! Your child will appreciate the effort and the meaning behind the book and when you decide to show your child the book you will be able to bond over the sharing of the memories and feelings locked away behind each page.
Here are some of the websites I borrowed ideas from:
Have you shared an adoption life book with your child yet? Please let us know how it went and what you included.
I get asked why there are no white babies for adoption on a weekly basis and today I had saw the question again on my Facebook Page. I decided to write down all the reasons and hopefully give some clarity on this FAQ.
Firstly, there are a few white babies for adoption each year in South Africa, but far fewer than the amount of people applying to adopt them and so over the years, the waiting list has become very long which results in people saying “There are no white babies for adoption”.
The number of white babies for adoption is directly related to the demographic of the country. In South Africa, we have a population of 51 million and of that, only 4.5 million are white (8.9%). There simply aren’t that many white people in this country.
Another reason is that unplanned pregnancies (which can result in adoption) are more common in areas where there are socio-economic problems like unemployment, poverty and poor education. Generally, people who have an unplanned pregnancy and who do NOT fall into these socio-economic categories, have support from their families and end up keeping their babies.
There is a perception amongst many people that abortion is “easier” as it is a “quick fix”. Where people have access to good medical care, abortion may seem like an easier option as it is safe and also allows you to hide the fact that you have been pregnant from family members and friends. Of course, it is not a quick fix and the long term emotional scars very definitely exist.
So to sum up, with around 10 – 20 white babies becoming available for adoption per year and around 200 – 300 people wanting to adopt white babies per year, the waiting lists have become 4 – 10 years long and many adoption agencies have stopped taking applications. They feel partly that it is unfair to get people’s hopes up by taking an application that will probably never come to fruition and partly that their time is better spent helping the existing 1.8 million adoptable black (and coloured) children to find forever families.
While I do understand that creating a family within one’s own race and culture is many people’s first choice, I would ask all potential adoptive parents out there to at least look into the option of a cross-racial adoption and at least talk about it with your family and with a counsellor or social worker.
In South Africa, it may be that you are left only with 2 final choices:
1) To not have children at all
2) To adopt children who come from a different race group than you.
Certainly not an easy decision at all and if I can be of any assistance and if you need someone to talk through this with, please let me know. I like to think I have helped many people in the past with these big questions and difficult feelings and I hope I can help many more in the future.
There is so much involved in the process of adoption but many people are not aware at first of the different types of adoption. There are a few adoption terms in South Africa.
This is when contact or association is made between adoptive parents, adoptee and birth family. This is very common when an older child is being adopted and they want to stay in touch with their siblings or birth parents. The birth parents may have a say in where the child is placed. A relationship can be built between the adoptive parents and the birth parents.
Closed adoption is when there is no contact at all between the birth family and the adoptive family. There is no communication between the adoptive parents and the birth parents. The birth parents have no control over where the child is placed and the adoptive parents may know little or nothing about the child’s history.
This is when a level of contact may be maintained between the adoptee, adoptive parents and the birth parents. This is usually at the discretion of the adoptive parents. Communication is usually maintained though letters or photographs. Agencies usually encourage some information to be shared so that the adopted child may keep in touch with his or her roots and culture.
This is an adoption arranged by a public or private adoption agency. Private adoptions through lawyers, physicians or any other facilitator is illegal in South Africa. Birth parents, adoptees and adoptive parent all have to go through a registered adoption agency or adoption social worker whether private or public.
All adoption choices come with their pros and cons and so deliberation and circumstances need to be taken into consideration to ensure the best is done for the adoptee. For guidance in your adoption process or if you simply have a few questions contact me by clicking on this link.
By now, you have probably all seen this headline about the mom who wanted to sell a baby online and you have probably tried to find the advert on Gumtree. It has been removed from the site but the issue is still very much one that needs discussing. This is my appeal to all birth moms out there. I cannot image what it must be like to be pregnant, afraid, alone and have no idea at all what to do.
There is so much help available for you. All across South Africa, there are social workers and adoption agencies as well as branches of Child Welfare and the Department of Social Development. Any of these people will assist you. There is no cost to birth moms for help and counselling from these social workers.
You will be looked after and everything will be done in the best interests of your unborn child. While it may be tempting to earn some cash while in the midst of this crisis, rest assured this is ILLEGAL and is considered to be human trafficking. You may not sell a baby online, advertise a baby in the media or approach anyone directly with a financial plan or offer. It is also illegal to dump or abandon a baby.
What you do need to know is that there are thousands of people wanting to adopt a baby. These people have been screened and approved and are on the waiting list for a baby. They are ready to take a baby home to love, educate, care for and nurture. Going through a registered adoption social worker will ensure that your baby ends up in one of these loving homes.
So please birth moms, don’t try to sell a baby online or abandon a baby. For a comprehensive list of who can help you, look at the national adoption website and use the drop down boxes on the left to find someone in your area.
Oh…and THANK YOU for considering adoption as an option. I speak for myself and many adoptive parents when I say how much we respect the great act of love that you have committed to.
We live in one of the most racially and culturally diverse countries in the world. As wonderful as this is, it has its negatives too and in places you would least expect. One of them is international adoptions. In the past I have had anything from Greek parents to Chinese parents asking if it would be possible to adopt a child of their own race and culture in South Africa. In this country, because of our population demographic, the vast majority of babies placed for adoption are black children. In order to find a child in another race group, you may struggle to find a social worker or adoption agency that will take your application and then you may have to wait an agonisingly long time.
If you want to adopt a white baby consider these hurdles. The number of white babies available for adoption in South Africa per year is minute. Some agencies close off applications for white babies as they simply have too many. Other agencies put an age limit on the adoptive parents. The waiting period after the application process is complete can take up to 5 or 6 years or it may never happen. It is a tough decision to make but consider that adoption is about bringing love and a family to a child’s life.
Often when faced with these facts, potential adoptive parents then inquire about international adoptions. (Adopting a child from overseas and bringing him or her to South Africa) The South African government at this time does not allow these types of international adoptions, unless there are extenuating circumstances like a family adoption. This ruling has been put in place to ensure that the millions of orphaned South African babies have the best chance of being adopted locally.
International adoptions the other way are not much easier. Many foreign nationals are interested in adopting black South African children and proving a home for them overseas. Due to the significant increase of orphans in South Africa over the past decade due to the HIV/AIDS crisis, the South African government re-evaluated its international adoption provisions. If you are not from South Africa and you want to adopt a South African baby it will need to be proved that there is no way the child can be provided for safely by either family members or extended family members in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child principles of adoption. This is to protect the children from human trafficking and other misfortunes that occur sometimes through the adoption process. There would also have to be an agreement in place between South Africa and the other country. These agreements are reviewed and updated or suspended from time to time so it is best to re-check information regularly.
For more information about international adoptions and adoptions in general contact me by clicking on this link.