South Africa: Adoptions - Proposed New Law Could Do Irreparable Harm to SA's Most Vulnerable


November was World Adoption Month. It was also the first anniversary of the gazetting of the Children's Amendment Bill which may end adoptions in SA. What started as a debate over fees, increasingly seems to be a battle for control and an underlying dispute about the purpose of adoption.

In November 2018, the adoption community in South Africa was rocked by the last-minute addition of three clauses to the Children's Amendment Bill (CAB) which will prohibit the charging of fees for adoptions by any professionals. The resulting controversy, which played out in the media, in national petitions, in child protection forums, and behind closed doors, focused around the role of fees in child protection and a host of related issues including access to adoptions, the role of adoption in the country's child protection strategy, subsidies, grants and emotive issues like undue profit, transracial adoption and trafficking. Yet, after a year of conflict, questions are being asked about the government's real objective.

One allegation is that the Department of Social Development (DSD) was not in agreement, or even intentional when it made fees illegal. Its goal in amending the Children's Act may actually have been to remove fee clauses from the...

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