Giving up a child
It’s never an easy decision to give up a child for adoption. Here’s what the process entails.
Deciding to give up a child is a decision that no one should have to make, but unfortunately it is a very real reality in South Africa and in the world.

Child abandonment is a devastating reality here at Jo’burg Child Welfare. We see it all the time and it is so important to educate people so that we don’t find children in dumpsters and other dangerous places.

If parents know that it is possible to give up their child safely and without repercussions then we may be able to save young lives.
Pam Wilson, who runs the adoption agency of Jo’burg Child Welfare says that ‘should a birthmother be considering giving her child up for adoption, whether unborn or already born, it is essential that she receive counselling from an accredited adoption agency or adoption social worker in private practice. The social worker will help her to look at all her options realistically before coming to a decision.’

It is important that the birthmother takes full responsibility for her decision says Wilson. Should the birthfather be involved in the process, he will be included in the counselling. The social worker will assist the mother to go to court to sign her adoption consent.

‘This is a very non-threatening procedure as the consent documents are signed before an adoption clerk and  the mother is then taken through to the into the Commissioner of Child Welfare’s office to take the oath and have all her rights explained to her and the consent documents legalised,’ says Wilson.

‘She is alone with the Commissioner in the office so it’s all very confidential. The Commissioner of Child Welfare will also inform the mother that she has a 60 day period in which to change her mind about the adoption. If the birthfather was involved in the whole process, he would also sign consent for the child’s adoption and be subject to the same 60 day clause,’ adds Wilson.

Informing the father

Part of the procedure is that the mother has to make a sworn affidavit about the identity of the birthfather and supply the court with his address. Once the mother has signed consent and if the mother has been able to supply an address for the birthfather, the court will inform the birthfather, in writing, that there is a consent for the adoption of his child and the court will give him the option of
a) signing consent to the adoption of his child,
b) apply to adopt the child himself or
c) object to the pending adoption.

If the mother was able to supply the court with the birthfather’s name but unable to supply the court with an address for the birthfather, the social worker will need to advertise for him, at least twice, in the personal column of a local newspaper If no response is received from the birthfather within 14 days, the adoption can go ahead without the father’s consent.

An abandoned baby

If a child is found abandoned a police report must be filed stating that the parents could not be found. The child’s photograph must also appear in at least 3 publications before any adoption process can proceed. Jo’burg Child Welfare appeals to parents not to leave children abandoned without any identification or information as this may delay the adoption process.

Carly Ritz is the communications officer at Jo’burg Child Welfare. For more information please visit Or e-mail us at

Do you know anyone who has given up a child for adoption? How did the process work?

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