News articles

Adoptions in KwaZulu-Natal: Control, collateral damage and unintended consequences

Adoptions in KwaZulu-Natal: Control, collateral damage and unintended consequences

Robyn Wolfson Vorster After 18 months of agonising stalemate in KwaZulu Natal adoptions, two vulnerable children, a questionable social development decision and a landmark High Court ruling may have paved the way for adoptions to resume in the province. But in the strange world of government’s unintended consequences, inter-country adoptions could now be easier than local ones. It surely...

Dirty tricks, delays and deception: The sabotage of child protection

Dirty tricks, delays and deception: The sabotage of child protection

Robyn Wolfson Vorster In May 2016, the Department of Social Development called an immediate halt to adoptions in KwaZulu-Natal over alleged child trafficking. A year later, and despite an ugly witch hunt against one local family, the assertions remain unproven. But the adoption process in the province with the highest number of orphans has been radically altered. The new...

Social Development: Going to hell in a handbasket

Social Development: Going to hell in a handbasket

Robyn Wolfson Vorster   Over the course of the Social Grants crisis, the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini was accused of incompetence, ulterior motives and most famously of showing “disdain for the country’s most vulnerable”.  All appear apt, but it is disdain for the weak and the poor that has most characterised the recent debacle, and her tenure...

Sounding the death knell for adoption

Sounding the death knell for adoption

Robyn Wolfson Vorster The 2016 World Adoption Day celebrations are proving muted, overshadowed by the election soap opera in America, and here at home by the crushing disclosure that there were only 1,165 adoptions last year. In a country with 3-million orphans and tens of thousands of crisis pregnancies annually, adoptions have stuttered and, in some cases, stopped. While...

The deadly power of patriarchy

The deadly power of patriarchy

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster In the few short weeks of 2017, the world has taken a lumbering step backwards in the battle against patriarchy, thanks largely to America’s new president and his unlikely ally, Russia. But here in South Africa, despite a female presidential aspirant (or two), and the president’s undertakings to advocate for women, the situation re patriarchy...

Home Affairs names and shames SA’s abandoned children

Home Affairs names and shames SA’s abandoned children

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster Child abandonment is a scourge in South Africa. As numbers soar, the battle is on to ensure that abandonment does not permanently define the lives of survivors. But those efforts are being severely hampered by the Department of Home Affairs’ decision to disclose to the public the abandonment status of some children. As a practice,...

Child abandonment in SA: hidden & heart-breaking

Child abandonment in SA: hidden & heart-breaking

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster Despite the occasional headline, child abandonment in South Africa remains largely unreported.  The little we do know reveals that it is both shockingly prevalent, and deadly.  So why is it so wide-spread and what can be done to prevent it, or at the least, minimise its impact? In the absence of comprehensive government-led research, it...

Fearing the foreigner: When child protection and institutionalised xenophobia collide

Fearing the foreigner: When child protection and institutionalised xenophobia collide

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster Adoption, like all child protection initiatives, is predicated on the principle of “the best interests of the child”. Except when it isn’t. In some significant matters, government agenda has overridden this tenet, at times with disastrous and even tragic consequences. One of the areas where this is most evident is “foreigners”: foreigners resident in South Africa...

A mounting tally of small bodies: Why are we killing our children?

A mounting tally of small bodies: Why are we killing our children?

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster Three recent cases of violence against children highlight the gap between what can be done and what is (or isn’t) done. The government often responds to such social crises on an advocacy level, whereas what is needed, and will make a difference, is a reaction based on policy and aimed at saving lives. South Africa...

Without a trace: the shocking fate of SA’s abandoned children

Without a trace: the shocking fate of SA’s abandoned children

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster Researching child abandonment in South Africa is akin to opening Pandora’s box. Coupled as it is with illegal, late-term abortion, the body count (when you can find them) amounts to tens of thousands. It could be many times that amount; perhaps we would know if the government was ever prepared to count them. Criminal activity...

Ubuntu and the debate over child protection

Ubuntu and the debate over child protection

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster Recent public comment days for the Children’s Amendment Bills brought a stark reminder that many sectors of government still believe that ubuntu is the panacea for all of our orphans’ ills. Ubuntu, by definition, is about our humanity to others. In the context of child protection, it is epitomised by community-based care and the principle...

The great adoption process power struggle

The great adoption process power struggle

by Robyn Wolfson Vorster Since the advent of the Children’s Act in 2005, adopting a child in South Africa has become a bit like a Mission impossible adventure set in the Big Brother house: it is the ultimate ‘against the odds’ undertaking but also characterised by invasive scrutiny, and weeks and months that pass where absolutely nothing happens. Thanks...