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 to the perseverance of adoptive parents — which could put even Tom Cruise to shame — these quests mostly have a happy ending. But the excessively challenging, mind-numbingly bureaucratic, and often adversarial adoption process is the chief basis for the halving of adoption figures in the last 10 years from 2,840 in 2004 to 1,448 in 2014. This is a dismal figure in a country withapproximately 3.5-million orphans, many in need of adoption. So why was a recent headline in the press ‘Adoptions to be cheaper, easier’ received with such little fanfare and even dismay by the adoption community? The answer seems to lie in a small but significant change to the law — one imbued with potential risk — the rather subversive government-led messaging around this change in policy, and the inexorable sense that the new approach is designed to fix the only part of the adoption process that isn’t broken (well, not yet). Ultimately, the perplexing thought remains: What if adoption is actually worse off on the other side of these changes? Time, and what the department does next, will tell.
Across the globe, adoption is a specialised practice, and no wonder… [read more]