When you are pregnant, your hormones are all over the place and major decisions are difficult to make. However, if you know you can not keep your child, you may consider adoption.
It is important to contact an adoption social worker. A hospital, clinic or Family Resource Centre might be able to put you in contact with one. The social worker knows how to counsel you and will guide you through the different options available to you.
Your social worker might work for the South African Government or a private organisation that facilitates services to birth mothers. Contact the Department of Social Development to check whether the private organisation is recognised by them. The social worker works with the court to facilitate the legal process.
The birth mother will have to fill in and sign a consent form and will be guided by the social worker when setting up the adoption agreement. The birth mother has a say in how often she would like progress reports from the adoptive parents and she is instrumental in selecting suitable parents.
If the birth mother is still a minor – younger than 18 – her parents will sign the adoption papers. The consent forms are signed in a family court in the presence of a magistrate. After the consent forms have been signed, the birth mother (or her legal guardians) have 60 days to reconsider the adoption. At any time during the 60 day period, consent may be withdrawn.
The birth father has the following rights regarding his child:
* He needs to be informed about the pregnancy.
* He must have the opportunity to acknowledge paternity and come on record with the registration of the child’s birth.
* He may agree to or oppose the adoption and his choice needs to be on record.
* He has the right to adopt the child and this right supersedes those of any other persons, unless the birth mother is a minor.
If the birthfather accepts paternity, he is liable to assist the mother financially with her pregnancy and with the birth of the child.
It is important to know that the interest of the child is the most important factor during the adoption proceedings.
If, during the 60-day period, the birth parents have made no claim to withdraw their consent, the child is legally adopted.
Resources that can help you:
www.adoption.org.za or call 0800 864 658 for immediate assistance