South Africans urged to utilise child adoption.

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu. Image: DSD News

Social Development urges adoption to protect vulnerable children

South Africans have been urged to explore alternative care options like child adoption to protect vulnerable children.

South Africans urged to utilise child adoption.

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu. Image: DSD News

As Child Protection Week unfolded, the Department of Social Development (DSD) has urged South Africans to explore alternative care options like adoption for children when they cannot provide adequate care themselves.

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu inaugurated Child Protection Week on Sunday in Kimberley, Northern Cape. This campaign aims to uphold children’s rights and mobilise society to safeguard children against violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

South Africa Enhances Child Protection Through Adoption Focus

Since the advent of democracy, South Africa has established a child protection system that promotes fostering and adoption, ensuring children can remain within family environments.

“Adoption, which is viewed as the most permanent placement option for children who are orphaned and vulnerable, remains underutilised in South Africa, and this leaves children for whom there is no immediate alternative care within their extended families exceptionally vulnerable to the long-term effects of institutionalisation,” the DSD said.

The South African Constitution’s Bill of Rights, specifically Section 28, guarantees every child the right to parental and family care or appropriate alternative care if removed from their family. Consequently, the government must provide alternative care for children whose families cannot meet their care obligations.

Furthermore, Section 233 of the Children’s Act mandates that if a parent is a child, a guardian must assist. Adoption, as a critical component of the child protection system, is highlighted as one of the primary alternative care placement options.

South Africa Confronts Orphan Crisis Amidst Epidemics and Violence

Currently, South Africa faces significant numbers of orphaned children due to violent crime, gender-based violence (GBV), HIV/AIDS, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“On the other hand, some children are abandoned due to the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality which culminate into multiple social ills including unwanted pregnancy.”

Adoption, therefore, stands out as the best possible alternative for these children if reunification with their families is not viable.

Promoting adoption services and recruiting prospective adoptive parents within the country is crucial, despite cultural and other barriers that may deter people from adopting.

DSD Urges Adoption Awareness

The DSD has called for increased awareness about adoption as a vital child protection measure, aiming to expand the pool of prospective adoptive parents ready to offer permanent and stable homes to children in need.

From April 2010 to March 2024, the department recorded 16 593 national adoptions and 2239 inter-country adoptions, totalling 18 832 registered adoptions.

To support these efforts, the DSD has employed 412 social workers registered with the South African Council for Social Service Professionals (SACSSP), who are equipped to provide adoption services.