What we can learn from the Zephany case
"I had a bad feeling – something was wrong."

The process of adoption involves a number of steps and formalities before an application is even considered. 

In South Africa, government agencies are understaffed and overloaded, causing a delay in the process.

With this in mind, most people know that adopting a child is usually not an easy or quick affair. 

Last year, Chris Rock made headlines for not following the correct procedures when he decided to become a South African girl's legal guardian. The news of this highlighted several important factors to consider when considering adoption. 

Read more: Chris Rock's adoption controversy

In more recent news, the woman accused of stealing Zephany Nurse in 1997 testified yesterday (23 February 2016) that the baby was handed to her wrapped in a blanket at the Wynberg station. She denied ever being at the Groote Schuur hospital on the day that Baby Zephany was taken and that the baby had been arranged to be given to her after liaising with a woman who offered to help her adopt a child. 

"I was told the baby was mine and the documentation will be sorted out later. I had a bad feeling – something was wrong."

Yesterday, she told the Western Cape High Court that she'd only received Zephany's birth certificate six years later in the post. 

Considering all the uncertainties and lack of clarity at this point from the woman who'd arranged for the baby to be given to a new guardian, many questions remain unanswered as the case moves forward. 

With South Africa's high rate of unplanned pregnancies and childbirth, child trafficking and private adoptions that may not follow legal procedures remain a grave concern. 

These processes may be lengthy and cumbersome but are put in place to protect all those involved and to prevent complications

Read more: Why you can't arrange a private adoption 

What you need to know about adoption

In South Africa, the only way to legally adopt a child is to go through an accredited adoption agency or social worker who may charge an admin fee for adoption related services. Make sure you check that any agency or individual offering to help you adopt a child is accredited and well established.

(Contact the Department of Social Development if you suspect anything illegal or strange about the process.)  

All prospective parents are required to follow a strict screening process involving medical examinations, marriage and psychological assessments, police clearance etc. 

The official placement of the child is a legal process that is finalised in the Children's Court. 

If you have a feeling that the person who is assisting you isn't following the correct procedures or if something doesn't feel right, it is vital that you contact child protection organisations or the police

Accredited and designated child protection organisations 

According to the Western Cape Government website for childcare and protection, there are several organisations that you can contact if you have any concerns:

ACVV (Afrikaanse Christelike Vroue Vereniging)


Cape Town Child Welfare

Child Welfare South Africa

AFM Abba Adoptions

Should you ever pay for adoption?

Some private adoption agencies may charge an administrative fee. Other fees include group orientation fees, interview/counselling fees, court process, birth registration and after-care services to name a few.

If you'd like to see a breakdown of further costs involved in the adoption process click here.  

Have you ever been tempted to skip official adoption channels? Send us your comments to chatback@parent24.com 

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