This view by Solidarity’s Occupational Guild for Social Workers comes after the Department of Social Development stated in a Press Statement issued on 10 January that fees for adoptive services should be abolished because adoptive services, like all other child protection services, should not be run as a business. Another reason being floated for this amendment is that, according to the department, fees would prevent parents who are keen to adopt a child, from doing so as they would not be able to afford it.
But, says Annelise de Vries, a researcher with the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI), prohibiting fees would mean that in future adoptions would only be facilitated by government officials.
“In light of government’s very deficient performance to date it will have dire consequences, not only for those in the private sector whose jobs are in jeopardy but also for all of those who are keen to adopt children. Of course, the prime victims are the children who are denied a permanent home,” De Vries warns.
De Vries contends that the proposed amendment to section 249 would result in a drastic drop in the number of adoptions, and that adoption would become almost impossible given the limited number of departmental officials and inadequately trained staff, as well as major budget deficits.
The damning picture outlined in the report by De Vries indicates that the department has been arranging adoptions since 2017 without charging any fees; however, the department has not been able to finalise one adoption over the past two years. “According to research, there are about 1,8 million children in South Africa who may benefit from adoption. Therefore, it will be irresponsible to leave the future of these children in the hands of the department,” De Vries said.
According to the report, it is estimated that this number will increase drastically if the amendment is passed by parliament.
De Vries said an enormous responsibility rests not only on the adoption community, but also on the broader South African community to strongly oppose this amendment. The Occupational Guild for Social Workers has launched a campaign to fight the proposed amendments tooth and nail.