Last updated on Jun 10th, 2021 at 06:46 pm

adoption
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How South Africa’s demographics affect adoption

Irrespective of their position, most families determined to adopt will at some point have to come to terms with the way that South Africa’s demographics affect our adoption process.

The reality is that there are huge numbers of black children in need of adoption and very few of any other race. The situation is so extreme that if you want to adopt a same-race baby and are not a black family, there is a strong possibility that you will not even be accepted by an adoption agency for screening. Fewer agencies are trying to place white children and those that do have very long waiting lists. Older couples, single parents, and families with existing children looking to grow their family through adoption are particularly unlikely to be accepted.

Although some private social workers are still willing and able to place white, coloured and Indian children, many of the families accepted for a waiting list are told that they may have to wait up to eight years for a child (although, even then, the timing is not a certainty). The ones who are eventually matched have little choice about the child they receive. Same-race children for families that aren’t black are so rare that it is almost impossible to specify criteria like gender, age or health (something which families adopting trans-racially are encouraged to do). In the end, given that you cannot adopt internationally if you are South African, the choice to adopt a black child may be the difference between becoming a parent, or not.

This scarcity is the reason that many families have changed their minds about adopting trans-racially midway through the adoption process. Looking in from the outside, it may be easy to say that those families are compromising in some way by altering their position. Interestingly, they disagree.  None that I spoke to had any regrets about choosing to parent a black child and many stated how amazing the experience has been. The truth is that we all come to adoption differently and in many cases, the journey we take is essential to prepare us for our lives together.

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