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Black babies wait for a family
Jo’burg Child Welfare adoption supervisor, Pam Wilson, shares the latest on adoption trends and the National Adoption Coalition.
In South Africa the largest group of children waiting to be adopted are black. We have a large number of black children waiting to be adopted and never enough adoptive families to take them in.

This is very different in the white, Indian and coloured communities where we have very few children becoming available for adoption and large numbers of prospective adoptive families desperate for a child.

When you have many prospective adopters on waiting lists in demand groups, babies will get placed fairly quickly. Added to the fact that within the white community, "open adoption" is still a fairly popular choice for both birth parents and adopters, which means the baby could even be placed with the adoptive family straight from the hospital.

The black community

For your black children however, the situation is often very different. For many children, the wait can be quite long. This often means the child spends long  periods in institutions or with temporary safe-care parents. Many children come into the system as an abandoned newborn but might only get placed with an adoptive family at 1 year or older.

This could be due to many things including delays in obtaining the necessary documentation which is necessary for the adoptability of the child, turnover of social work staff, or medical problems where the child is still waiting to be cleared medically fit for adoption. Obtaining a police report for an abandoned child can delay the process for several months.

Many black adoptive parents come into screening with the expectation that they would like to adopt an older child, even up to 4 years old, which means that we are able to place our older black children. This is slightly different in the white community for instance, where the expectation is usually for a newborn baby.

Register of Adoptable Children and Adopting Parents

With the implementation of the new Children’s Act in April 2010, a Register of Adoptable Children and Adopting Parents (RACAP) was introduced to help facilitate the placement of children in local adoption. Every child who is adoptable should be placed on that Register and every prospective adoptive parent, who has successfully completed the adoption process should be placed on the register.

There is an urgent need to spread awareness about adoption into all communities but particularly, black communities. Up until now, recruitment of adoptive parents has been fairly piecemeal and left to the individual adoption agencies who have limited budgets and resources.

What has been needed for a very long time is to have a concerted national adoption awareness campaign to bring about a change of attitude within the black community about adoption. And this has now become a reality. A few adoption social workers and the Department of Social Development, have been working very closely with some very enthusiastic media and PR companies to develop an exciting media campaign to address the problem of not having enough adoptive parents.

Out of this campaign the need also arose for the formation of a National Adoption Coalition, which has been successfully initiated with the mandate of the national adoption community. The aim of the National Adoption coalition is to have a unified structure which will promote and build awareness of adoption, build partnerships and collaborations across the adoption community. This is a very exciting development for South Africa as it's the 1st time adoption professionals, Government and private enterprise have joined hands to try and address the problem of spreading awareness about adoption into all communities.
The ultimate goal of both the coalition and the national media campaign is to facilitate the recruitment of prospective adoptive families in order to create positive and permanent change in the lives of our children and hopefully correct the present imbalance in the length of time some children have to wait before becoming part of a permanent family.
If you're facing a crisis pregnancy or wanting to adopt a child, you can find the necessary information on the Adoption Coalition website or you call the call centre on 0800 864 658.

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