Posts Tagged ‘ Parenting ’

Waiting to adopt? Please don’t give up

“My earnest plea to all prospective adoptive parents is don’t give up. The adoption procedure is fraught with difficult obstacles but see it through. God has a special place in His heart for people who take care of orphans (James 1:27).”

I was addressing a group of around twenty at a meeting of the Pretoria Adoption Support Group. I wasn’t scheduled to speak. I had only been invited to sell copies of my book, the proceeds of which were to be donated to the Southern Africa Bible College.

But as I listened to the discussion going on around me, I began to sense a rising sense of frustration among the audience, comprised primarily of pre and post adoptive parents.

The topic under discussion was the latest amendments to the South African Children’s Act 2007 and how these affect the adoption process.

I listened as an experienced adoption social worker explained the rationale behind the extensive waiting periods prospective parents must endure before a baby is placed with its adoptive family, and how every decision made by a social worker has to be done with “the best interests of the child” in mind.

It wasn’t long into her presentation before someone in the audience posed a question, which was quickly followed by another, and another. Although the social worker responded well to each one, it soon became apparent that the Act, although an improvement on its predecessor, remains fraught with flaws.

Under the new Act, babies only “become adoptable” after 60 days, the social worker explained. After this period, the birth mother has an additional 30 days in which to rescind her decision to give up her baby. Factor in the time required by the Act to search for birth fathers, and that they are also afforded 30 days to give their consent to the adoption, and it can be months before a child is eventually placed in their adoptive parents’ arms for the first time. For abandoned babies, the waiting period can be even longer, as the Act affords the birth mother, father and even extended family members ample time to come forward to claim the baby. By then, adoptive parents may be faced with serious bonding issues with their adopted child.

“Government adoption agencies expect us to wait months before placing a baby in our arms, so who can blame couples for choosing to work with private social workers who give them a newborn baby immediately?” one father asked (I later learned that he and his wife are waiting to adopt their second child). Everyone could hear the exasperation in his voice and as he spoke other parents nodded their heads in agreement.

I could not remain silent. As an adoptee, I felt a responsibility to speak for the orphaned, unwanted and abandoned babies. After obtaining permission from the group co-ordinator I stood up after the final presentation and faced the group. I knew that all they wanted to do was give a loving home to an orphaned, unwanted or abandoned child, but complex legal procedures made it so difficult for them to do so.

“After listening to everything that has been said today I cannot help but feel thankful that I was adopted under the old Children’s Act, which enabled me to be placed in my mother’s arms when I was a few days old and stay with them while the adoption process was finalised,” I began.

“That said, part of me also wishes I had been adopted under the new Act, because then my birth mother would have been legally required to name my birth father on my original birth certificate and that piece of my life puzzle would not still be missing to today.

“What this has made me realise is that sadly, even though it is intended to protect children from being exploited, the Children’s Act will never be perfect. It is formulated by imperfect humans who will never be able to devise a law that will satisfy the needs of all the parties involved.

“My parents also went through a difficult screening process and had to overcome numerous obstacles in order to adopt me. But they did it. They never gave up and today I am so thankful, because were it not for their perseverance I wouldn’t be standing here today pleading with you not to give up hope.

“The adoption procedure may lengthy, complex and frustrating, but stick with it. Orphans all over the world need you and God will bless you richly for your selfless act of love.”

 

Crisis looms for South Africa’s orphaned and vulnerable children

Focus on adoption as a protection mechanism during Child Protection Week – 29 May to 2June

South Africans are in a state of shock and denial in respect of the crisis facing our orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children, with the numbers of children who are in desperate need of a family of their own, steadily increasing.  Current estimates of children who may benefit from adoption in South Africa are between 1.5 and 2 million in 2011.  This coupled with a steady decrease in adoption rates is placing huge strain on alternative care systems, which in principle, should only be temporary solutions.

During Child Protection Week from 29 May to 2 June, the newly formed National Adoption Coalition will launch Addoption, a programme designed to draw attention to the plight of South Africa’s adoptable children and provide accurate process information to birth and prospective adoptive parents. Addoption was born as a centralised, unified hub complete with a website and call centre to provide information and guidance for birth and prospective adoptive parents in terms of the adoption process, in fact for anyone in South Africa wanting to know more about adoption as an option. In addition it also provides an extensive database of adoption professionals across South Africa.  This is the only resource of its kind that provides both adoption information and database resources in one, consolidated format. For the first time in our country’s history, the South African adoption community, including the National Department of Social Development, has taken hands to form a National Adoption Coalition – a mandated and unified structure that promotes and builds awareness of adoption, builds partnerships and collaboration across the adoption community, shares best practices and acts as a mediator and champion. “The key focus of Addoption is to educate and create awareness among South Africans about adoption as an option when deciding how to deal with a crisis pregnancy, how to become an adoptive parent, or how to extend a family through adoption.  Our role is to assist the adoption community as a whole to create awareness and hence encourage the use of their services,” explains Sue Krawitz, a spokesperson for the National Adoption Coalition. “The ultimate aim is to create positive and permanent change in the lives of the children of South Africa, to ensure a sustainable social solution for this country.  Adoption is treated with great mistrust for a number of reasons in this country, and yet, it has been proven globally to be the best permanent solution for children outside of the family.  The low prevalence of marriage in SA and resulting vulnerability of single mothers, the weakening of the traditional extended family, and the impact of poverty and HIV/Aids, has led to an alarming increase in abandoned babies.  There is also a preference for foster care vs adoption, with nearly 40 per cent of adoptable children in foster care currently in South Africa.  This is not ideal, as it is not a permanent solution for the child, and gives them no sense of belonging or long-term stability,” explains Sue. As outcomes of the programme, Addoption is aiming to create national awareness of adoption as an option, change adoption perceptions, attitudes and beliefs across communities and empower community opinion leaders to be advocates of adoption. One of the biggest challenges facing anyone in a crisis pregnancy or for anyone interested in adopting, is finding consistent and accurate information about the process and who to go to for assistance.  Through the Addoption call centre on 0800 864 658 and the website at www.adoption.org.za both birth parents and adoptive parents will have access to consistent, positive adoption communication and engagement as well as immediate access to correct adoption information. South Africa faces many unique challenges When one considers the alarming statistics, it soon becomes clear that the Addoptionprogramme and the National Adoption Coalition have vitally important roles to play, in averting a very real and imminent crisis.  There are over 18.8 million children in South Africa, almost two-fifths of the population.  The estimated number of adoptable children exceeds 1.5 million, roughly eight per cent of all children, yet currently only 0.2 per cent are adopted.  Despite the high number of children deprived of parental care, the annual number of adoptions has remained low and static over the past five years, and showed a notable decrease in the 2008-2009 year. There are a number of unique challenges that South Africa faces in finding adoptive parents as a child protection mechanism:

  • South Africa is a diverse country, with different cultural groups who have unique cultural beliefs and practices impacting adoption.  Up until now, adoption has not been “Africanised” to be more culturally appropriate and relevant.
  • There is a shortage of prospective adoptive parents, especially from the African community.
  • Adoption has not received widespread promotion at a national level.
  • Recruitment of prospective adoptive parents is currently carried out in an ad hoc, localised manner by adoption agencies and its reach is limited by lack of financial support.
  • The information on adoption is sparse and poorly distributed.
  • There is a widespread lack of knowledge and understanding regarding the unique dynamics of adoption, the typical issues confronting adopted children and their families, the risk factors that undermine adoption, and the factors that stabilise, strengthen, and preserve adoptive families.
  • The growing number of abandoned babies and children remains a serious concern, with many birth mothers unaware of their options, including adoption, or where to find reliable, non-judgemental counselling when faced with a crisis pregnancy.

Rina Bowes – A Virtuous Woman

A tribute to my beloved mother-in-law, who passed away peacefully on 26 August 2010, after suffering a severe stroke on 3 August 2010.

Who can find a virtuous woman whose worth is far more than rubies?

Her name is Catharina Cornelia Bowes; Rina to her family and friends, Ouma to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and to her children and their spouses – Mommy.

She will be remembered as a faithful and devoted wife to her husband, and a joyful mother of seven children, to whom she not only gave life, but lovingly and tenderly moulded each one’s individual personality, instilling in them all a good measure of the humanitarian and Christian principles by which she lived.

Never needing to adorn herself with the latest fashions or trendy cosmetics, Mommy glowed with an inner beauty that personified the attributes of love she radiated – patience, kindness, humility, peace, gentleness, unselfishness, forgiveness and compassion.

Consequently, people were drawn to Mommy’s loving temperament and generous nature. To anyone in need she was always prepared to listen and provide a word of encouragement and not surprisingly, she had many friends. Some turned out not to be friends at all, but abusers of Mommy’s kind-heartedness, yet she never rejected one of them or turned them away when they were in need. Without a malicious, spiteful or vengeful bone in her body she shied away from all forms of conflict and in her humble, submissive way would do everything in her power to bring about peace, even if it meant sacrificing her own dignity and wellbeing.

Her husband trusted her completely with the affairs of their household and as a full time wife and mother, Mommy’s hands were never idle. She rose early each morning to tend to her family’s needs and with such a large one to take care of, there were many. Seldom during the day did she have a moment to herself.

Because she loved her children so much, Mommy was not afraid to mete out discipline when it was necessary. Woe to the child who tried to borrow a few pennies from her purse without asking to buy sweets, secretly sneak out of the house to visit a friend, or feign an illness in an attempt to get out of going to school. But no one could ever argue that she wasn’t fair.

Raising seven children on a single income was not without its challenges, but not once did they suffer physically or mentally during their growing years.  Mommy sacrificed much for them, never hesitating to give up her own pleasures to ensure their comfort. Indeed, at meal times, after serving her family supper, it was not unusual for Mommy to retreat quietly to the kitchen to eat her own meal – a slice of bread and a cup of coffee.

Later in the evening, when the children were asleep, Mommy would spend the quiet time mending clothes, darning socks and knitting – never for herself, always for her family and often, even for others.

As her children entered adulthood and chose marriage partners, Mommy welcomed each one into her family without reservation, freely giving them her love and making them her own. She was always there to nurture and support their dreams, or give a gentle push when they ran out of steam.

After her husband died and she had seen her youngest child comfortably settled in his own home, Mommy, for the first time, sat down to rest. To her family she had become more than just a mother, mother-in-law and ouma, but an integral part of everyone’s lives.  She had taken care of so many for so long, and now it was her turn to be spoiled.

Treating Mommy was just as much fun for the one doing the treating as it was for her because she indulged in each experience with childlike delight, finding great joy in the simplest pleasures.

But nothing made Mommy happier than having all her children gathered around her. Getting the whole family together for a special occasion was no mean feat, and if someone was unable to make it for some reason Mommy would never fail to mention how much she missed them.

Now it will be Mommy’s place that is empty and we will be the ones talking about how much we miss her. But she has left us with a beautiful gift. All the love we shared and all the fun we had with Mommy have been replaced with wonderful, happy memories – of lappies and bonks, blokkiesraaisels and television soapies, Dream chocolates, Liquorice Allsorts and lazagne, trails of crumpled tissues, gentle admonishments of “Ag, jy’s laf” and exclamations of “Ek kry die piep”.

Along with these beautiful memories, we have the assurance that even though Mommy’s life on earth is over, today her spirit lives anew with God, where she has gone home to share in His glory for eternity, and is waiting to meet up again one day with her children in Christ.

Today and always, Mommy, your children rise up and call you blessed. Many women have done virtuously, but you surpass them all.

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