Adoption is one of the most noble acts there is, giving a permanent home to a child, or confirming the role of an interested person in the child’s life as the official legal guardian of a child. The adoption of minor children, within South Africa, is regulated by Chapter 15 of the Children’s Act, which sets the parameters for which children may be adopted and who may adopt them.
There are numerous different types of scenarios for adoption which cannot be covered here for the sake of brevity, but the process remains relatively the same. Inter-country adoption, however, is regulated by Chapter 16 of the Children’s Act, and involves different and additional processes not covered here.
There must be an adoption social worker involved throughout, who assesses the suitability of prospective parents to adopt by performing various interviews and evaluations, and who will deliver a Report for the Court. You are specifically not prohibited from adopting solely as a consequence of your financial status.
If found to be fit and proper, they will be included in a Register (with a Register of adoptable children) which is valid for 3 years and can be renewed.
Prospective adoptive parents can approach an adoption agency or go directly to the nearby Children’s Court to initiate the process and complete the necessary application forms. The officials there should be able to answer more detailed queries that you may have about the process and any anticipated concerns involved in your situation.
In situations involving the adoption of a child who has any known existing parents/guardians, the consent of the existing parents/guardians must be obtained and signed before the presiding officer in Court. The consent of the child must also be obtained if they are over 10 years of age.
If an existing parent/guardian is refusing to consent but it is in the best interests of the child to be adopted, you will be required to bring a High Court application for the Court to mandate that they provide their consent. This is necessary as that consent is mandatory, even if they have been an absentee parent/guardian in the child’s life.
Prospective adoptive parents who are seeking to adopt a child generally, namely from the Register of adoptable children instead of a specific child, will be involved in a matching up process between the needs and best interests of those children and the specific requests or details as to the type of child the prospective parents wish to adopt.
In all cases, there will be various costs and fees involved which prospective adoptive parents need to be mindful of and should enquire about from the beginning before they make the decision to set out on this path, so they know what lies ahead.
You shall also need to take into account that this process could take several months to even a few years to be finalised, and prepare yourself emotionally for this possibility.
After the adoption is confirmed, you will need to approach the Department of Home Affairs with the child’s birth certificate and the Court Order to record the adoption.
For direct answers to your specific personal questions, please contact us directly.
Read more about our adoption law services.
Author – Murray Taylor