Frequently asked questions

Are there many children available for adoption in South Africa?

The abortion laws in South Africa changed a few years back and this has resulted in an 80% reduction of babies, especially white and other race babies, available for adoption. Minors in South Africa do not require parental consent in order to have an abortion. In South Africa there are many black children available for adoption, who desperately need families.

How do International Adoptions work?

(Adopting a child into South Africa)

South Africa has signed an international convention on inter-country adoptions. The Children’s Act details the required procedure for inter-country adoptions. Should you wish to pursue an international adoption into South Africa you must contact a social worker that deals with inter-country adoptions. The social will liaise directly with the Registrar of Adoptions in Pretoria via the Departmental Provincial Head Office with the Affiliated Bureau for International Social Services (ISS) in South Africa. Relevant contact details are available on this site under the Contacts page.

How do adoptions of South African children by foreigners work?

South Africa recognises two kinds of adoptions by foreigners:

  1. Those completed by foreign residents of South Africa, and The first category requires the foreigners to be resident for 5 years in South Africa and the adoptions are handled by an accredited agency and finalized by the Department of Social Development.
  2. International adoptions where foreigners are given children to adopt in their home country. South African subscribes to the Hague Convention (since 2003), which regulates inter-country adoptions, in order to prevent child trafficking and kidnapping. According to the Hague Convention, only people from countries that subscribe (e.g. Finland and Belgium) may adopt South African children. Each country which subscribes to the Hague Convention must have a central authority regulating this kind of adoption, and only reputable non-governmental organisations may set up and manage these adoptions. If money changes hands, it must go to the organisation (not individuals). Up to 5 years after the adoption, social workers in that country must submit regular reports to the South African body.

How do Social Workers decide with whom a child seeking adoption should be placed?

Adoption laws in South Africa are governed by the Child Care Act of 1983, which require social workers and adoption agencies to “give due consideration” to language, religion and culture when matching prospective parents with children.

Can you pay a woman for her child?

No. It is illegal to attempt to become a child’s “permanent” parent in any other way than through the adoption process. Becoming a child’s foster parent involves another process. To pay a woman for her child is a crime.

Can any child be adopted?

No, only children under 18 years and who are available for adoption may be adopted. A child whose parents have both deceased or who has been abandoned may be available for adoption. If the child’s parents are alive (and can be found) they must both consent to the adoption. Abandoned babies placed in your care require a 6-month “waiting period” before the courts will allow an adoption.

Do birth mothers and adoptive parents share identities?

Each case is unique. An open adoption is an adoption where the identities of the parties are known to each other. A closed adoption on the other hand means that from the start of the process, identities are with held. Often the social worker will advise the parties to consider sharing identities in the best interest of the child.

Can the birth mother reclaim her child after adoption?

The birth mother has a 60-day period after handing over her child, in which to change her mind and reclaim her child. Once the 60 day “waiting period” has passed the consent form signed by the birth mother results in the adoptive parents being the legal and otherwise parents of that child.

Who can adopt a child in South Africa?

A married couple can jointly adopt a child. Partners in a life-partnership (including same-sex partners) can jointly adopt a child. A person who has married a natural parent of a child can adopt the child (adoption of a step-child). A single person (a widow or widower or an unmarried or divorced person) can adopt a child as a single person.

What costs are involved?

As regards Welfare organisations, a sliding scale, which is dependent on your income, is usually used to determine fees. At the low-end of the scale (income equivalent to that of a domestic worker) the fees are about R102 while at the high-end of the scale (more than R30 000 per month) the fees can be closer to R12 600. Social workers in private practice will bill by the hour and thus it is important, when you meet with your social worker, to ask what fees you will be required to pay. In some cases you may be asked to pay the hospital fees of the birth mother and child. Remember, never pay birth parents directly as this is illegal.

How long will I be on the waiting list?

This depends largely on your adoption specifications. In South Africa the majority of children that need to be adopted are black, therefore you will wait longer if you request a child of another race or if you request a child from a specific religion.

If you are prepared to adopt an older child this may also increase your chances of finding a child.


Adoption is not about finding a child for a family. Its about finding a family for a child