Cultural expert, Ndela Nelson Ntshangase has urged black people looking into adoption to follow the legal process.
His comments come ahead of World Adoption Day on Saturday, a global day to raise awareness of adoption and celebrate family.
The day is marked as an education opportunity to help support families in their adoption process, and is endorsed by ambassadors from all walks of life who recognise the power and beauty of families brought together through adoption.
November also marks adoption month.
The majority of children available for adoption in South Africa have been abandoned – an estimated 3 500 children survive abandonment each year.
Ntshangase says adoption in the African culture appears in three levels: If the parents of a child die, then a family member with the same surname will often adopt the child; if a brother can’t have children, then he secretly adopts the child of one of his biological brothers with the same surname; and lastly, when both parents die and the family can’t look after them-then a couple with a different surname adopts them.
Ntshangase says, “Sometimes because now we are living in the westernisation, the laws are dominated by the westernisation, so whoever then is adopting a child, whose surname is different to the family whose adopting, it is better therefore to go to court to get the adoption papers so that when the child grows up if there any challenges then it will be witnessed by the papers to say this is how I have adopted this particular child.”
Click below to listen to the full interview with Ndela Nelson Ntshangase.
The National Adoption Coalition of South Africa (NACSA) says there has been an increase in black families adopting, but still not enough to place all black children needing families into a same-race adoption.
The current graphs from The Register of Adoptable Children and Parents shows the comparison of number of children available for adoption, and number or parents screened to adopt. The purpose of the national register is for matching and is managed by the Department of Social Development.
NACSA’s Elke Day says, “ NACSA and other adoption organisations have had campaigns to create awareness and demystify adoption and address cultural objections. We have seen more interest in adoption by black parents and acceptance in the broader community. These adoptions are often cross- subsidised, using a sliding scale, to make them more accessible.”
Day says in South Africa there has been a decline in adoptions over the last few years.
She says, “We are concerned that the proposed amendments to the Children’s Bill may have a negative impact on adoption numbers as it will cut down on the number experienced adoption service providers able to continue working in the adoption field if it is accepted in its current form. “
“We encourage people to join an initiative by Procare, one of our members, to support us in pushing for a review of the proposed Children’s Amendment Bill of 2018,” Day adds.
The proposed draft amendments are aimed at excluding all private professionals from the adoption process in South Africa. The proposals include making it illegal for anyone working in the adoption sector to charge a fee for their services.
During this year’s Adoption month, the coalition aims at unifying and empowering the adoption community, engaging and raising awareness on adoptions in communities and creating positive and permanent changes in the lives of children.
Days says, “There have been a lot of systemic challenges facing the adoption sector this year, and NACSA felt that for adoption month we would like to refocus our attention on the reason we continue to fight for adoption, which we see as the best permanent alternative solution for children, outside of their family.”
She says, “We recognise that adoption has many faces and always goes hand in hand with loss, but believe it provides a child with a future in a loving family rather than growing up in institutional care.”