Seeing the smile on the face of a baby as he recognises his mother in a crowded room…

Adoption - Giving life & hope to children

Adoption – Giving life & hope to children

That same child’s crying face as he’s scared to take his 1st steps through the gate at pre-school…

The sense of achievement as he finishes first in his schools sports day…

These are moments that parents cherish with their children as they experience the different stages of life as a  normal child…

So why should a child miss out on these moments, purely because he was abandoned and left up for  adoption. Adopting a child is an adventurous journey of giving someone the experiences that they would not otherwise encounter…

So you’re ready to adopt, you’ve made the brave decision to open your heart to an abandoned baby, to give them the chance at a ‘normal’ life…yet where do you begin? Where do I go? What is the process that I have to go through? Do I have to be married to adopt? Is there an age limit?

We contacted the Child Welfare Durban & District to answer some of the numerous questions surrounding adoptions. There are 2 branches to the adoptions process that run simultaneously, that of the adoptive baby and that of the prospective parents.

From the baby’s side, there are two ways as to how he/she can land up on the adoptive list. On the one side, a mother can consent to giving up her baby for adoption and so the required medical procedures begin as soon as possible, after birth. On the other hand, the baby or sometimes even toddler may be left abandoned by its parents. Now in this case, when the child is reported, the child is placed at a babies home but is not up for adoption as of yet. The welfare has to post notice of the missing child in the area where it was found and the search for the child’s family begins. If after a certain period of time, someone has not arrived to claim the child, or if no suitable relative is located, the police will close the case and file a report stating that the child becomes ‘property of the state’. Once this occurs, the baby is placed on the Adoption Register, pending the results of the required medical tests. Depending on the length and results of the babies medical procedures, as well as the search for ‘next of kin’, the baby will likely take 3 months before being ‘ready’ for adoption.

On the branch of the prospective Parents, the process is slightly more in-depth. When a person has decided to provide an infant with a loving home environment, they would need to contact the Child Welfare Durban and District, where they would be invited to an orientation programme. On the 1st Monday of every month, the Welfare holds an orientation programme, detailing the adoption process, the types of babies available for adoption and the required application forms to be completed. Once the programme and required forms have been completed, the screening process begins. A social worker will be assigned to the prospective parents and together, they will carry out the relevant checks (Marriage, Police, Background checks, bank statements, assurance of job stability, references etc.) and review the motivation for adoption. Both single parent adoptions and nuclear family adoptions are accepted, although 1st preference is for a complete family unit for the child.

A panel meets once a month to review the findings of the prospective parents. Here the social worker presents the cases to the panel, where they view potential challenges, discuss documentation and supply additional motivations. If approved, then the prospective parents are added to the Adoption Register and the matching process begins. Depending on the background clearance checks, sufficient documentation needed and outcomes from the panel, the duration of this leg of the process can be anywhere from 3 to 6 months before being placed on the Adoption Register.Once both the adoptive baby and prospective parents are on the Adoption List, the social workers begin the matching process. Where possible, they will try to place the baby in a similar culture, but dependant on availability of adoptive baby’s, this is not always possible. A preference of the welfare is for the prospective parents to not have a particular child in mind when applying for adoption, before the matching has been verified. This is due to families bonding with babies that may not yet be cleared for adoption, and have the opportunity to be reunited with a relative. For the welfare, the child’s needs come before anything else, and they prefer to see which applicant can best suit the needs of the child.

Adoption Process Tree

Adoption Process Tree

Regarding an age limit, the cut-off age for adopting newborn babies, is 45 years old. Prospective families and parents that are in their 30’s and older, are encouraged to adopt toddlers and older children rather than newborns. However, the age limit is not set in stone as each case is unique and will be brought before the panel and treated accordingly. All will depend on the individual’s motivation and supporting documentation.The adoption process is brought to a close, when a match has been found and approved, and the paperwork has been completed. By this time, the bonding process between parent and child has already occurred and the adopted baby is whisked away to its’ ‘happily ever after’.

All in all, the length of the entire process from beginning to end will vary between  6 to 12 months, according to possible challenges during the registration of birth (baby’s side), the screening process (parent’s side) and the matching process.

If you’re looking to adopt or would like more info, please contact Nashina/Jasu at the Child Welfare Durban & District on 031-312 9313 or you can email to