Faure & Faure Inc.’s dynamic Family Law team was privileged to be a part of two successful adoptions finalised during the first part of 2018. We are proud of our positive contribution to these minor children’s lives and future.
One of the adoption applications, recently finalised, was for a minor child who was removed from the biological mother’s care two years ago and placed in foster-care with our Clients. The Adoption Order was granted in April 2018 and this minor child is now permanently and safely in the care of our Clients.
Click here to read a note received from one of our clients after the adoption process was completed successfully.
Adoption in South Africa | General
The process of adoption takes time and is not an easy one. It includes extensive work and various ethical questions should be considered. If you want to adopt a child in South Africa, you are required to work through an accredited Adoption Organisation. They will offer guidance and assistance to ensure that all guidelines are followed within the accredited adoption system. Our experienced Legal Team at Faure & Faure Inc., working closely with the Adoption Organisation’s Social Worker, will assist prospective adopting parents with this process.
There are various reasons why adoption is considered. It is often a very traumatic experience for couples not to be able to conceive naturally, when they so desperately want children and some couples choose not to have children of their own. In both instances, adoption can be considered by the prospective adoptive parents. Our Legal Team at Faure & Faure Inc. is privileged to be a part of many success stories in this regard.
The Legal / Social System and its challenges
In South Africa 578 minor children are registered on the list for adoptable children. Many children are however caught up in the legal / social care system for years.
The reality of the South African welfare system is that minor children are often removed from their biological parents’ care (sometimes more than once), due to the fact that they are in urgent need of care and protection, as defined in Section 150 of the Children’s Act, Act 38 of 2005 (”the Act”). In the event of a minor child being in need of care and protection, they are moved to a place of safety. This is a temporary measure, whilst the designated Social Worker completes his/her investigation. Safety-care parents are often people known to the minor child, relatives or pre-approved couples that are registered with a Social Welfare Organisation. In terms of Section 155(2) of the Act, a safety-care placement should only be for a 90 (ninety) day period; however, these placements are often extended by way of a Court Order.
If the minor child has no parent or care-giver, or the parent or care-giver is found unsuitable to care for the minor child, the next step is that of a Foster-care Placement or an extended Safety-care Order, pending the finalisation of an adoption process. Foster-care Orders are usually granted for a 2 (two) year period, in terms of Section 159 of the Act, however more often than not, extended for longer periods due to investigations not being completed within the designated time period or the biological parents refusing to give the required consent for the minor child’s adoption. This results in a minor child being caught-up in the legal / social system for years, which is not in the minor child’s best interest. This is only one of the current practical challenges that our Child Welfare System faces and where the Faure & Faure Inc. Legal Team regularly assists.
The goal of Faure & Faure Inc.‘s Family Law Department is to assist both the minor child and the prospective adoptive parents, in obtaining permanency placement and securing stability and safety for the minor child.
The Act also supports permanency planning, in that it provides that Court Orders should be aimed at securing stability in a child’s life. Section 157 provides that, before a Children’s Court makes an Order in terms of Section 156, for the removal of the minor child from the care of the minor child’s biological parent or caregiver, the Court must obtain and consider a report by a designated Social Worker on the conditions of the minor child’s life, which must include an assessment of the:
- developmental, therapeutic and other needs of the minor child;
- details of family preservation services that have been considered or attempted; and
- a documented permanency plan taking into account the minor child’s age and developmental needs aimed at achieving stability in the minor child’s life and containing the prescribed particulars; and
- furthermore, considering the best way of securing stability in the minor child’s life, including whether such stability could be secured by issuing instructions as to the evaluation of progress made with the implementation of the permanency plan at specified intervals.
Sections 156 and 157 of the Act are in line with Section 28 (2) of the Constitution, providing that decisions taken regarding minor children, must be done against the backdrop of the aforementioned section, always making the minor child’s best interest the primary consideration.
When issuing an Order involving the removal of a minor child from the care of the minor child’s biological parents or caregiver, the Court may include in the Court Order instructions as to the implementation of the permanency plan for the minor child.
The Adoption Process | What to Expect
Once prospective adoptive parents have initiated the adoption process by contacting an accredited Adoption Organisation, an orientation process will follow. Each Adoption Organisation follows its own orientation process. It will include the following: The adoption process will be explained to the prospective adoptive parents. Thereafter a screening process will be done which 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. The prospective adoptive parents 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. The prospective adoptive parents will then be matched with available adoptable children. A minor child will then be identified for adoption. There will be an introductory period when the prospective adoptive parents are introduced to the minor child. The length of supervised time they spend together will depend on the age of the minor child.
The Attorney’s contribution
Legal finalisation of the adoption and the registration and noting of the adoption on the population register, are the final steps to be taken.
At Faure and Faure Inc. our objective is to ensure that the best interest of the minor child is protected at all times and that Chapter 15 of the Children’s Act, Act 38 of 2005 is correctly implemented and followed. Once the Adoption Order is finalised, the minor child is legally regarded as the child of the adoptive parents and the biological parents have no legal standing going forward.
The cost involved
We recommend that our clients work with the Adoption Organisation, Morgenzon Practise, in Paarl. Morgenzon Practice can be contacted directly to obtain their fee-structure. Visit www.morgenzonpractice.co.za.
The legal fees will depend on the time spent on the matter and our services are charged at an hourly rate. Contact Faure & Faure Inc. for more information.
Marelize Meintjes is a Director at Faure & Faure Inc. Attorneys and a Family Law Specialist. For more information contact Marelize Meintjes on 021 871 1200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to read a note received from one of our clients after the adoption process was completed.