South Africa is so tremendously mixed, both culturally and racially, and with a history of great racial prejudice, it is not surprising that we have so many issues surrounding transracial adoption. Parents are faced with a huge decision often affected by friends and family opinions. For some parents the decision on transracial adoption is easy. For others its the most difficult they will ever make.
Many parents are desperate to adopt but only want to adopt a child of the same race as themselves. Parents argue that transracial adoption will make the child’s life more difficult. The child will have to deal with many tough issues that other children won’t. When adopting a child from another race and culture, parents have to consider teaching the child about his or her own culture and language. The child may get bullied in school and sometimes, due to the fact that they are noticeably adopted, they feel excluded within the family. During teenage years many issues may boil up and explode if they haven’t been dealt with properly during childhood. Pro transracial adoption activists argue that that a child’s perception of a situation and how they then react to the situation is shaped by the parents. They argue that a life with loving parents dealing with transracial adoption is better than spending a life in an orphanage. Adoption is about sharing love and giving the priceless gift of family to the adoptee as well as new parents .
In South Africa there are far more babies of colour than white babies available. This means that parents who are waiting for a white baby could wait many years before a child is available. Some adoption agencies receive about 10 white babies a year if they are lucky and many, many, many more black babies. These black babies are now suffering the backlash of a failed Antiretoviral role out system well before their time and a current HIV crisis sweeping the country. According to the Health Systems Trust, 5,7 million babies could be orphans by 2015. This is a scary, scary figure. There are so many parents desperately seeking a child that it almost seems impossible to not adopt a baby of colour in the next few years and it seems as though transracial adoption will be on the rise whether people like it or not.
What are your thoughts on transracial adoption? Have you ever transracially adopted or are you planning to? Do you know someone going through something like this? Have your say and comment below.
Trinity Heart’s blog post on this topic and Someones Daughter book are two great reads. Written by women who adopted transracially, the issues they dealt with personally and socially and the hardships and joys of adoption.
Contact me by clicking on this link for more information and any questions you may have on adoption.
Many woman and men come to me with a great worry telling me they are single and they want to adopt a child. Often people think because they want to adopt as a single person, they will be turned away or have to face with huge disappointments and red tape. Many of them fear that they will never get their chance to adopt a child. But there is great news! Under South African law a single parent has the same rights as couples when it comes to adoption. Single parent adoptions go through exactly the same process as married couples and although it can be a long, sometimes scary and a torturous wait, at the end of it you will be blessed with your little angel. A registered adoption social worker will interview you and you go through all the regular paperwork. You may want to make use of regular counselling during the process and afterwards too as it can be quite a lonely experience and having someone to talk to can often alleviate some of the fears. Having a child in your life is the biggest blessing and it is so worth all the paperwork, waiting time and fear. Contact me if you want to set up an appointment to go through all the ins and outs in detail.
A scary, and often uncomfortable scenario arises when your child starts asking who his or her biological parents are and even more so, when your child wants to find them. You need to be prepared for this moment and be able to play the supportive role. You are now their adviser more so than ever.
This is a momentous occasion and can be a trying time for everyone involved. It touches on a lot of sensitive topics that could end badly for your child, which is what you instinctively want to prevent. What if your child was abandoned or the birth parents stated they did not want to see the child again? Are you then you are obligated to tell your child? Do you simply give your child all the facts and support whatever decision they make?
Ask your child if they want your assistance and help them where you can. Be honest with your child, treat them with respect. Be there for him or her no matter what the outcome is. Suggest counselling before and during the process. This will help them come to grips with the bad and the ugly of searching for biological parents, because it could all end in tears.
There are many scenarios that your child should prepare for. The biological mother (BM) may have fallen pregnant by a traumatic event like rape or an abusive relationship. They may now be married and their partner and family may not know about the child. The BM may not want to meet the child for a number of reasons and revisiting the pain of abandonment is sometimes too painful for the adopted child. Any one of these situations could force old trauma to rear its ugly head causing more damage than good.
According to the law anyone over the age of 18 can search for biological parents. If you are over the age of 21 you can search without permission. According to Section 248 (1) of the Children’s Act (Act No 38 of 2005) prescribes that the information contained in the adoption register may not be disclosed to any person, except
(a) to an adopted child after the child has reached the age of 18 years
(b) to the adoptive parent of an adopted child after the child has reached the age of 18 years
(c) to the biological parents or previous adoptive parent of an adopted child after the child has reached the age of 18 years, but only if the adoptive parent and the adopted child gives consent in writing.
(d) for any official purposes subject to conditions determined by the Director General.
(e) by an order of Court, if the court finds that such information is in the best interest of the adopted child
(f) for purpose of research provided that no information that would reveal the identity of an adopted child or his adoptive or biological parent revealed
It is advised to go through an adoption agency, and even better, the one that was involved in the adoption as they should have records of the adoption and all the relevant information. It is better to have a social worker involved as they can lead you through the process and ensure that you are well prepared for any curve balls that may come your way.
Be strong during this time and keep lines of communication open with your child. This is as hard for them as it is for you. Respect your child and support them no matter the outcome.
Making the decision to adopt a child is the hardest part right? After that you fill out some forms, get evaluated and, after a short wait, you get handed an angel of joy that will complete your life. Easy, peasy! Only not even close. Waiting for your adopted child can be the hardest part.
I have just moved to a new office and I wanted to update my address on the internet. I changed the details on my own website and on my Facebook Page and one or two other pages that I advertise on and then I decided to Google myself! What a thing. It seems I am splashed around on all sorts of pages! I guess it is a good thing but it’s also quite scary to know how much info there is out there that I was unaware of. I did find one lovely article that I have never seen before so I thought I would share it here. It was written when I did the insert for Dr Mol’s show on adoption and I have watched the video clip many times but I had no idea there was this article too.
It seems that I am well associated with the the topic of adoption in South Africa and that makes me really happy. The more people that find me and the more people I can help with their adoption process, the happier I am.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Hello everyone and a belated Happy New Year. It’s been a very busy few months and I have not managed to write here for quite a while – although behind the scenes, there has been lots of action.
I think that many people reassess their lives over the December period and come to decisions that they may have been procrastinating over.
My phone seems to have been ringing off the hook with enquiries about adoption this year and the confusion and misconceptions still exist around this topic.
I have had 3 main types of calls. 1) Pregnant ladies who want to give their unborn baby up for adoption. 2) Childless people who want to adopt this year and most alarmingly…3) A number of parents who want to give their 4 to 10 year old children up for adoption.
This 3rd group of people are clearly in distress after a trying time and have arrived at the option of adoption. It seems that many people do not understand the finality of adoption and think that it is a temporary, emergency lifeline. I have referred those people to social workers and I hope that their families can get the help they so desperately need.
As for the 1st and 2nd groups mentioned, let’s hope that in 2013, many matches will be made and that many new forever families are created. I know the social workers are working as hard as they can and I am hoping, praying and wishing that babies find homes and childless couples find babies.
That is my wish for 2013.
This young man made me smile today. He is exactly how I think we all hope our kids will turn out. He sees his adoption in a lighthearted, happy and loving way. He is comfortable with who he is and who his family is. He comes across as proud, well-adjusted and a great advocate of adoption.
Enjoy watching: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQvLuiuvI-U&feature=player_embedded and let me know what you think of it.
I have just watched this clip and I found myself smiling from ear to ear. There is something about watching Charlize that always makes me smile but when she starts talking about her dogs and the adoption of her new baby son, her face just lights up and it is a sight to smile at!
Watch Ellen’s interview with Charlize Theron here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiKJLvHqhWk
“WHOSE BABY IS THAT?!”
Since becoming a “Kanga mum” (Temporary Safe Care Parent) I have been asked so many questions about the baby, his mum, his future and the process of adoption. So I decided to write the questions down and try to provide a short answer to each so that people can understand how it all works.
“Why can’t he go to his adoptive parents yet?”
The baby’s birth mother has two months to change her mind and take her baby back. The law has recently been changed to protect adoptive parents from the trauma of having a baby for several weeks or even a full two months and then having the baby taken away from then again.
Sometimes the biological father, who also needs to sign consent for the adoption, cannot be contacted. Certain steps have to be taken to ensure that every effort has been made to get hold of him. This delays the process. International adoptions can take 6-8 months.
Once the baby is officially “adoptable”, the adoptive parents are notified that there is a baby ready for them. The birth mother can not take the baby back after this.
“Why did our friends get their adopted baby at birth?”
Some private adoptions still work this way, but the birth mum, her family and the father’s family still have two months to take the baby back. It is considered a high risk adoption.
“What if you want to keep him?”
Kanga mums do not keep the babies. They are, per definition, temporary caregivers, looking after the baby until he is adopted.
“Can we/our friends adopt him?”
No, the baby has in most cases already been assigned to a family who applied for adoption through the social workers. The adoptive parents do not know that they have been chosen until the waiting period is over, in order to avoid disappointment if it falls through.
“Who is his mother? Did you meet her?”
The birth mother’s name and other details are confidential to protect her privacy. Kanga mums sometimes do meet the birth mother if she requests to see the baby while in Kanga care. This is done under social worker supervision.
“How can anyone throw away a perfect baby like this?”
This baby is not thrown away – his mum loves and cares about him so much that she wants to give him a better life than she can. It is an act of love and self-sacrifice. Biological mothers often want to keep their babies, but due to circumstances, they simply can’t. Kanga mums do not always know exactly why the baby has to be adopted, and may not be at liberty to reveal the reasons even if she knows.
“It’s wrong! His biological mum will regret this for the rest of her life!”
No-one can judge whether it is right or wrong to give a baby up for adoption. It is not a decision made lightly or impulsively. Sometimes it is the best thing to do, in order to give the baby a better life. Every effort is made to ensure that the mother is counselled and the adoption is done in a way that gives her peace.
“Won’t you get attached? How will you ever give him away again?”
Kanga mums are encouraged to love and bond with these babies, so that the baby can experience being loved and how it feels to be attached. The alternative is for babies to be placed in homes. Being cared for by a loving family is better for the baby.
Kanga mums know right from the start that it is a temporary situation, and that they are basically babysitting someone else’s baby for them. Focusing on how good it is for the baby to be loved this way as well as the new parents’ joy at receiving this gift helps. Kanga mums do cry and mourn when the babies are adopted, but we are happy for the baby to go to his forever family.
“Will you keep in touch with him?”
Probably not. Kanga mums have to love and let go, knowing that the baby is with a good family.
“Won’t it be very hard for him to adjust to his new parents?”
These babies adjust well – the better bonded they are, the more easily they bond with their new parents. Bonding in humans is a process that can start at any age, and can be instantaneous or it could take time. Whether the child is 2 months or 2 years when adopted, bonding will happen!
“Will you meet them?”
Yes, the Kanga mum spends some time with the new parents on the day the baby is adopted, to tell them all about the baby, his likes and dislikes, habits and routine. The Kanga mum has a chance to say goodbye.
“What if his mum wants him back?”
If his mum wants him back within the two month period, she notifies the social worker, and they have to go to the court to officially withdraw consent for adoption. The social workers make sure the family can indeed take care of the baby and that he will be safe. The Kanga mum is then required to bring the baby to a designated place, or he is fetched from her home by the mother and social worker.
“What is his name?”
Birth mums often give their babies a special name. If not, the Kanga parents give babies temporary names. Sometimes using the baby’s given name will compromise confidentiality, in which case Kanga mums may use a different name. When the baby is adopted, he gets a brand new name, chosen by his new parents.
“Where was he born?”
The identity and privacy birth mother and baby need to be protected, so Kanga mums are not at liberty to reveal the place of birth.
“Can I babysit for you?”
If you have a police clearance, yes! This is what the law requires in order to ensure the baby’s safety.
“Do you have to pay for everything?”
The government contributes a small daily amount, which just about covers his milk. If there are medical problems, the baby goes to a government hospital. Kanga mums are responsible for nappies, clothes, car seats etc. We often take our babies to our own doctor and carry the costs, to avoid the long queues at government hospitals. We also buy over-the-counter medicines when necessary.
“How can I help?”
Kanga mums may not accept cash for the babies, but you can donate your old baby stuff to the Kanga ‘depot,’ especially newborn and 0-3 months. Disposable nappies, bottles and infant formula are always welcome!
“I would love to become a Kanga mum. Who do I contact? How do I get involved?”
Prospective Kanga mums work through social workers. We can put you in touch with the relevant people. New “recruits” attend a training session to familiarize them with the process. They are required to obtain a police clearance, and undergo screening by a social worker.
This article was taken from: https://www.facebook.com/notes/erica-neser/questions-about-kanga-mums-and-adoption/379116098787291
Justin Foxton asks and answers the age old question: Can you love a child? Read his blog post here
I love his comment halfway down the article which points out that all too often in adoption the simplest questions, get over complicated. The lines seems to get crossed with people looking at the difference between adoption and biological parenting. But is there a difference? Yes – on the day of “delivery” – but after that, not at all. We love our adopted, fostered and biological kids and we all do the best we can to raise them and make them into educated, loved, functioning little people.