Adoption in South Africa

When I had my first child, I was warned that I needed to get used to the fact that I would now forever have a piece of my heart walking around outside of my body, vulnerable, open to ridicule, pain and disappointment.  I would hurt when they hurt, cry when they cried and carry their disappointment with them. For more than half a million children every year in this country, they hurt, they cry and they carry disappointment alone; the number of parentless children in SA is on a steady rise. These children face few possibilities: the street, an older sibling stepping in as a parent, state-sponsored homes, or for the lucky few – adoption.

Adoption is the pinhole of light at the end of a very lonely and dark tunnel, but this pinhole is wracked with a variety of heated opinions and emotions. Depending on your background, adoption is crucial, charitable or downright ludicrous. For some it has always been a possibility, for others it has become a necessity. Over the course of the next two issues, we will examine the complexities of adoption; we shall meet two families who have entered into this process and we shall explore the challenges, both practical and fundamental that they and many others face.

On average, there are 2400 adoptions per year. This, compared to the 500 000 children who could benefit from adoptions, shows us that there is a significant gap that needs to be addressed.

Nearly one year ago, Alwyn and Izelle adopted a young girl, Liboko, into their family. They also have an older, biological daughter, Sarah.

Cece is 35 years old, and is in the process of seeking to adopt. While Alwyn and Izelle fall into the nearly 70%, white majority of prospective parents, Cece is somewhat of an enigma – not only is she part of the miniscule minority of parents (only about 5% of prospective parents are black), she is also single, making her truly remarkable in the world of South African adoption. These two cases begin to frame the intricate picture that is adoption in this country…

 Did you always know that you wanted to adopt? What were your reasons for adopting? 

(Izelle)

I had the experience of growing up with friends, a brother and sister, who were adopted into the minister’s family of our local church. I remember thinking that it was a remarkable act of love to voluntarily accept children into a loving home. The Bible spoke of caring for orphans and widows but I didn’t know many widows at the time. However, I remember thinking that I could care for an orphan. After all, God had ‘adopted’ us.

(Cece)


How have your friends and family responded to your decision of adopting? 

(Izelle)

(Cece)

How do you feel society respond to adoption in general?

(Izelle)

(Cece)

Did you have any reservations about adopting?

(Izelle)

(Cece)

These are the stories of two families seeking to shine a light, however small, at the end of the tunnel. However, the tale of these stories is most often fraught with challenges, both heart-warming and heart-wrenching. A journey that we will explore further in our follow-up feature, where we look at the ups and downs of living life in the world of adoption.