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Adoption in South Africa – Fact sheet #KayaKnowYourRights

7 Mar 2018 FAMILY

By: Natasha Archary 



Child protection statistics put the number of orphans in South Africa at approximately 5.2 million. With a steady decline in adoption rates in the country and a rise in the number of orphans over the years, the stark reality is that adoption is not being considered more.


A review of the Registry of Adoptable Children and Parents shows that most parents sought a child of their own race. There are 297 unmatched parents for every 428 unmatched children available for adoption. This means that the likelihood that every child finds a home are not high.


Whether you’ve considered adoption or not, here’s a fact list for you to make a more informed decision…


Who can adopt?

  • South African citizens or permanent residents.
  • Whilst there are no age limitations, one does need to be 18 years or older. Be realisitic about age from a parenting point of view.
  • Depending on the nature of the crime, a person with a criminal record, may be considred a suitable candidate for adopting. Provided there are no repeat offences and a social worker rules the person is rehabilitated.
  • There is no minimum income bracket but one is expected to substantiate capability to provide for a child’s basic needs.


Birth parents

  • Both biological parents must consent to the child being adopted.
  • Birth parents have 60 days to confirm their decision to place the child up for adoption.
  • During this time, the baby is taken care of in a place of safety.
  • Babies are placed with adoptive families from three months.


Is adoption for me?

  • Research adoption. Read stories about other adoptive families and meet others who’ve adopted.
  • Get in touch with a few adoption agencies until you find the one that you’re comfortable with.



This part of the process is to screen prospective parents to ensure they are suitable candidates for adoptable children.

  • Screening takes between six and nine months, depending on each case.
  • Process in steps:

1) Orientation – where adoption process is explained

2) Interviews – Social worker questions applicants

– Required documents: Psychological & medical assessments

– Character references

3) Relationship Assessment – couples are interviewed together to ensure there is a commitment to the process.

4) Police clearance – This is mandatory as well as clearance from the National Register of Sexual Offenders & National Child Protection Register.



The more specific your expectations with regards to a childl, the longer the process takes.

  • There’s a high demand for white and Indian children but not many available.
  • Child’s age, race, religion, health and gender are usually common specifications to adoptive parents.
  • Approved applicants now go on the Register of Adoptable Children and Prospective Adoptive Parents – a list managed by the department of social development.
  • They’re now ‘Paper Pregnant’.


New Home

  • Before the request for adoption is granted, adoptive parents learn about a suitable routine to be followed. A scoial worker oversees this process.
  • Paperwork is now drawn up and the application is then filed in court.
  • When the adoption order is registered, the child is officially yours – under the law, it’s as if the child were born to you.



Cost implications cover legal paperwork, professional services and administrative expenses.

  • It can range from R12,500 to R28,000 but could even go upto R40,000 if adoptive parents are paying medical expenses for the birth etc…
  • Costs are negotiable, the parents’ financial situation is considered.




Undoubtedly the adoption process in South Africa seems a long and daunting one, but one that could bring such fulfillment to the life of a deserving child.


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