What is the process?

Orientation: Each organisation has its own orientation process, but it will involve the adoption process where the process of adoption is explained to the individual or couple considering adoption. Group sessions may also form part of the process of education.

Application: When working through an adoption organisation, the prospective adoptive parents start by submitting an application. This involves completion of Application Forms and submission of required documentation. parents applying to adopt a child will need to prove their health, character, social and financial status by supplying medical certificates, character references, bank/financial statements and criminal record clearance.

Screening: The screening process normally involves orientation meetings, interviews with a social worker, full medicals, marriage and psychological assessments, home visits, police clearance and references. This process allows social workers to get to know prospective adopters as a family, their motivation to adopt, and their ability to offer a loving and stable home. You and your home will be evaluated in terms of its safety and environment as to the needs of the child.

Waiting list: Once screening is complete, applicants are placed on a waiting list for a child. The applicants will make decisions about the age and sex of the child they would like to adopt, and the organisation will try to meet their expectations as far as possible.

Identifying a child for adoption: There will be an introductory period when the prospective parent/s are introduced to the child. The length of supervised time they spend together will depend on the age of the child. In most cases of non-related adoption, the child’s adoptability process is a separate, legal, one. Only once the child is declared legally adoptable can a potential match with screened adoptive parents take place.

The legalisation: Legal finalisation of the adoption, registration and noting of adoption on the population register are the final steps to be taken. Unfortunately, these can take a year or longer to finalise. Consent from the biological parent/s and other parties involved can be withdrawn up to 60 days after giving legal consent. The Children’s Act also makes provision for the adoption to be cancelled, even after finalization. Once the social worker has assessed the adoption to be in the best interests of the child, the adoption is finalised through the Children’s Court. The social worker will give his or her opinion as regards your suitability as adoptive parents but The Commissioner of Child Welfare, via a hearing closed to the public, will decide on whether or not you are eligible to have a child placed in your care as adoptive parents. If successful an adoption order will be issued.