Adoption in South Africa

If you are unable to give birth to a child or you wish to add another child to your family, adoption is a legal way in which a single adult or couple can make a baby2mom match happen. If egg donation or surrogacy are not options for you, for whatever reason, adoption makes a child yours as though it were born of you.

Adoption is the ultimate act of love, providing a permanent or stable family life for a child or children who would otherwise be deprived of one.

Gift ov life supports adoption which places children in stable homes that are much needed by many of South Africa’s youth.

Groups of people that are able to adopt a child in South Africa

According to South African adoption legislation, namely the Child Care Act of 1983, a child may be adopted by:

  • A married couple in a joint adoption.
  • Life partners, same sex or otherwise, in a joint adoption.
  • A person who has married the parent of a child can adopt the child, with the biological fathers consent. This is called the adoption of a stepchild.
  • A single person can adopt a child.


  • Any child may be adopted provided that they are under the age of 18 and have been abandoned or orphaned. If the child’s parents are still alive, both parents must consent.
  • Due consideration to cultural differences in placements – including language and religion however cross-cultural placements are not outlawed.
  • The age of the adoptive parent/s will be taken into consideration.
  • Adoption may take place via social workers – usually as private adoption agencies – or via non profit government organisations.
  • In non-abandonment adoptions, the birth mother has 60 days from the time of the birth in which she may change her mind about putting her child up for adoption.

Most of the adoptions in South Africa stem from abandoned babies. In these cases it may take up to 8 months before the child can be released from a place of safety whilst social workers attempt to trace the biological parents.

Types of Adoption

  • Closed Adoption – this type of adoption limits the birth parents rights and control over their biological child. They have no control over the child’s adoptive placement or wherabouts. Equally the parents adopting the child know little about the child’s history.
  • Open Adoption – in this type of adoption the birth parents have more rights as they specify the type of family that they would prefer for the placement of their child. The birth and adoptive parents will meet and develop a life long relationship
  • Semi-open adoption – this is, as it states, a combination between a Closed and an Open adoption. The birth parents will have rights over where their child is placed and will maintain some level of contact; usually letters and photos, but via the adoption agency. The discretion of the adoptive parents however takes precedence.

In South Africa adoption may be Closed, Open or Semi-open.

The Screening Process for Adoption

  • Orientation Meeting – 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.
  • Completion of Application Forms and certificates – 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.
  • Home Visit – your home will be evaluated in terms of its safety and environment as to the needs of the child.
  • Identifying a Child for adoption – This may be a quick or long process but when the agency finds a child, that is an acceptable baby2mom placement, you should apply to the Children’s Court in the district in which the child lives.
  • 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 thepublic, will decide on whether or not you are eligible to have a child placed in your care as adoptive parents. Your reputation and ability to support and educate a child will be of prime importance. If successful an adoption order will be issued.

Untitled(1)The process of Adoption in South Africa is often a long one. If an adoption order is granted it is usually many months, and even years, after couples have applied to adopt.

It may seen unfair when all a couple want to do is care for and love a child – it is however necessary to ensure that all children placed for adoption are never placed in dangerous, harmful or abusive homes.

Local & International Adoption Information

If you are South African and wanting to adopt a baby we would suggest that you visit the central national adoption centre at

Or you can contact accredited adoption social workers in practice:

Zoe Cohen and Joan Nathanson
082-5540625 & 0844663790
011883-7997 & 011 782-8554

If you are interested in an international adoption, that is you are based outside of South Africa and are wanting to adopt a South African child, please be aware of the following:

  • South Africa works on international adoptions, of babies moving out of South Africa, with Hague Convention countries.
  • You need to make contact with the central adoption authority in YOUR country. Should the country in which you reside have an adoption relationship with South Africa, you will be screened in your country as international adoptions are agreement between countries.
  • South Africa’s National Adoption Coalition can be reached at or email Thandi on

Some helpful points in your journey to parenthood via Adoption

  • If you know of a mother who wishes to give up her child for adoption, you should contact a social worker to assist you to ensure that the adoption is legal and in the best interests of the child.
  • Welcome the chance to receive counselling as you prepare to meet the challenges of adoption
  • In the case of the adoption of a special needs child – a child that is disabled or has been sexually abused – ensure that the the adoption agency has post-adoption support facilities.
  • Always check the credentials and qualifications of the social worker.
  • Ensure that you understand the exact fees for which you will be responsible including whether you are required to pay for costs incurred at birth.
  • Ask what fees you will be required to pay. You may be asked to pay the hospital fees of the mother and child.
  • Be aware that making payments to birth parents directly for a child is illegal.

There is also no “one road” to follow. Whilst there is a “formal process” as a guideline, there are numerous suggestions that one MUST BE PROACTIVE in trying to find a baby.

Visit the Personal Adoption Stories of this site for some amazing acts of courage and determination to parenthood, by matching a baby2mom.

Visit the Adoption Contacts and Links page to assist you in your search.

I Will Be A Wonderful Mother – Author Unknown

There are women who become mothers without effort, without thought, without patience or loss, and though they are good mothers and love their children, I know that I will be better.
I will be better not because of genetics or money or because I have read more books, but because I have struggled and toiled for this child.
I have longed and waited. I have cried and prayed. I have endured and planned over and over again. Like most things in life, the people who truly have appreciation are those who have struggled to attain their dreams.
I will notice everything about my child. I will take time to watch my child sleep, explore, and discover. I will marvel at this miracle every day for the rest of my life.
I will be happy when I wake in the middle of the night to the sound of my child, knowing that I can comfort, hold, and feed him and that I am not waking to take another temperature, pop another pill, take another shot or cry tears of a broken dream. My dream will be crying for me.
I count myself lucky in this sense; that God has given me this insight, this special vision with which I will look upon my child. Whether I parent a child I actually give birth to or a child that God leads me to, I will not be careless with my love.
I will be a better mother for all that I have endured.
Yes, I will be a wonderful mother.

Every child born deserves to know the love of a family.