New legislation regarding adoption laws in South Africa has sent shockwaves through the country. This comes after the Department of Social Development proposed changes that will see the scrapping of adoption fees being charged.

The amendment to the Children’s Act calls for the removal of the Adoption Fee Clause, which has been in the works since 2016.  Essentially, the department maintains that adoption shouldn’t be regarded as a business venture and only accessible to specific people from certain privileged backgrounds. They believe the change will be in the best interest of the children who need families.

As it stands, after ticking all the adoption eligibility boxes, prospective adoptive parents must then find an accredited adoption social worker.  The best options include: a certified adoption agency, a private social worker, Child Welfare and/ or the Department of Social Development.

The amendments, however,  would make it illegal for anyone to charge fees for professional adoptive services and will, ultimately, result in the closing of many NGOs and adoption agency establishments.

Speaking to IOL, the operations manager of Door of Hope, Nadene Grabham, expressed the following: “ There will be no way [these organisations] to sustain themselves in running their organisations and paying liveable wages to adoption social workers as well as other staff who are required to run these private, specialised service providers. Child and youth care centres will lose key partnerships with these NGOs. Without adoptions being facilitated, child and youth care centres will reach their capacities shortly thereafter. Space will run out and new children, desperate for care, will have no place to go.”

So, not only will the changes negatively impact agencies, social workers and child psychologists, but the almost 4 million orphaned and abandoned children who need homes, too.

The amendments are currently being challenged in the Hight Court.