News

Lida-Marie Saayman
4 minute read
20 May 2019
11:41 am

WATCH: The dire consequences of the new Children’s Act amendments

Lida-Marie Saayman

A children's charity says the new laws will have dire consequences for orphans in our country.

Door of Hope recently shared their concerns with the Comaro Chronicle for the proposed amendment to the Adoptions Bill. They would like to make the public aware and encourage them to support adoption agencies like Door of Hope in signing a petition against these changes.

Access to adoptions will decline if Children’s Act amendments are passed, with dire consequences to orphans in our country.

The current threat to adoptions

The South African Constitution states that every child has the right to a family or parental care. In a country that has 2.8 million orphans and more than 3,500 children who survive abandonment every year, this right is becoming harder to protect.

Some children are being cared for by their family, but for others, especially those children abandoned at birth, and whose families are unknown, adoption is their only hope of becoming part of a family.

Towards the end of 2018, adoption came under threat because of the proposed amendments to the Children’s Act. Adoption, which allows for a permanent change in a child’s legal and family identity, is a specialised social work practice, ethically and emotionally complex, and time-consuming.

If the Children’s Act amendments are accepted in their current form, specialist social workers will no longer be able to charge professional fees, fundraise or even recoup their costs for guiding and facilitating the adoption process.

Private social workers will be forced to stop offering this vital service and even those working for Child Protection Organisations, who are entitled to partial subsidies, will struggle to survive.

Eventually, only government social workers will be left to perform adoptions.

The process will then be fully supported by government social workers who sometimes, despite their best intentions, lack the expertise and tools to best serve the children they hope to protect.

Additionally, considering that these government social workers currently have a caseload of between 100 and 300 each, how can it be expected of them to handle such an increase in their duties? They are already overworked and under-resourced and with adoption figures already low and dropping yearly (there were only 1,186 adoptions in 2018), we are likely to see a further decline. One expert has gone so far as to predict a complete end to adoptions within two years.

What is to become of our children?

How will we protect those without the hope of a family to call their own?

The truth is, they will be forced into long-term institutional care, and their best interests will become secondary. The spokesperson for the department of social development has stated that the placement of children into unrelated families through adoption is no better for children who can’t be reunited with a biological family than institutional care.

Global studies have shown profound negative effects for children growing up in institutions and the importance of permanent family care, so these options should not be equated. Removing or curtailing permanent family care as an option should never be considered in the best interests of the child.

But section 28 of the Constitution goes on to state that the child’s best interests should guide any decisions we make about them. In the absence of adoptions, how do we ensure the best interests of all children, particularly those without kin, are upheld?

The answer is: we can’t!

What can you do?

1. Add your voice to our call to have further consultations, which we hope will change how the Act will be amended. You can help by adding your name and email address to the petition which you will find online at www.childrenmattersa.org

Sign the petition here:

https://www.childrenmattersa.org/?fbclid=IwAR0ytgJCIMC90Z_mNo_roQhEKA9vXD0l4A0LaBLT9fZPZBaD4H2J6biuX58 and also at www.change.org

2. Agree to have your name attached to a letter addressed to the speaker of Parliament requesting that the bill seeking the changes be withdrawn and new consultations and comments be sought.

3. Share the video.

4. Mobilise your community to action and pray for our children.

Should these amendments be passed, it would reveal a great deal about our society’s soul. #CHILDRENMATTERSA.

Information supplied by Nadine Grabham from Door of Hope and www.childrenmattersa.org.

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