10/10/2017 17:52 SAST | Updated 10/10/2017 17:55 SAST

Considering Adoption But Not Sure Where To Begin? Here Are 3 Basics You Should Know

The process can be a lengthy and rigorous one.

Paper family of three with adoption play letters.
Getty Images/iStockphoto
Paper family of three with adoption play letters.

At least 2-million children are in need of adoption in South Africa, yet an average of just 2 000 are adopted each year. This is according to the National Adoption Coalition of South Africa (NACSA).

In 2013, 1 669 children were adopted and in 2014, the number dropped to 1 448. By 2016, the number had dropped to 1 165, most of which were step-parent adoptions, blogger and proud-mom-via-adoption Robyn Vorster clarified.

READ: I Am No Less A Mother Just Because I Haven't Physically Borne A Child.

Vorster and other adoptive moms agree that adoption is the best thing they've ever done -- although the process is not necessarily an easy or quick one.

Here are three basic things to know about the adoption process in South Africa:

1. Who can adopt

According to the Children's Act of 2005, a child may be adopted by a single person or a married couple in a joint adoption, or life partners, same sex or otherwise, in a joint adoption. A person who has married the parent of a child can also adopt the child, with the biological father's consent.

The only way in which you can legally adopt a child is by working through an accredited adoption agency or with the assistance of an adoption social worker, according to NACSA.

Prospective adoptive parents submit an application according to the requirements of the agency.

2. There is a relatively lengthy and rigorous screening and preparation process

All adoptions must be screened to determine suitability to adopt. The screening process -- which can take about six months or more --may vary between agencies but normally includes:

  • A qualifying interview with a social worker
  • A home visit from the social worker
  • Police clearance
  • A clearance from the National Child Protection Register and the National Register for Sexual Offenders
  • Medical tests
  • Psychological assessment
  • Financial assessment
  • Marriage assessment
  • References

If you are eligible, you will be placed on a waiting list for a child.

3. There is a cost involved

The fees cover administrative, legal and professional services.

The Children's Act provides a basic cost structure for the process for accredited organisations.

These reportedly range between R12 000 and R28 000. Costs can go up depending on additional items, such as medical expenses for the birth mother -- if the adoptive parents are covering those.

If adopting via Child Welfare, the fees are determined based on the income of adoptive parents.

Some organisations are subsidised by the National Department of Social Development.

*You can call Adoption on 0800 864 658 toll-free to speak to an adoption adviser.