Adoption – criteria and procedures

Adoption means that an adult person takes a child who is not biologically his or hers and makes that child his or her own child. He or she acquires full parental responsibilities and rights towards the child.

Source: A simple guide to South African Family Law by Nthabiseng Monareng
A child may be adopted by:
·         Husband and wife jointly.
·         A single person, including a widow, divorced or unmarried person.
·         A couple in a same sex relationship.
·         A married person whose spouse is the parent of the child.
Requirements
·         If the child was born within a marriage, consent of both parents is required.
·         In respect of a child born outside marriage, only the consent of the mother is required. The consent of the father will be required only if he has acknowledged paternity in writing.
·         The consent must be in writing and signed in the presence of a commissioner of child welfare.
Procedure for adopting a child
·         An application to adopt must be made at the children’s court.
·         A social worker will be appointed.
·         The social worker will hold interviews with the person who wants to adopt.
·         The social worker will also assess the life situation, personal circumstances and financial means of the person who wants to adopt.
·         The social worker will then write a report and hand it over to the Children’s Court.
 
Criteria for adoption
 
The court will do the following:
·         Assess whether adoption is in the best interests of the child.
·         Consider the report of the social worker.
·         Assess if the person who wants to adopt has adequate resources to educate and maintain the child.
·         Assess whether the person who wants to adopt is a fit and proper person.
·         Ensure that the required consent has been obtained.
Consequences of adoption
 
·         Adoption terminates the relationship, rights and obligations that exist between the child and the biological parents and their relatives.
·         The child will be regarded for all purposes as the child of the adoptive parents and he or she will have the surname of the adoptive parents.
General notes about children
 
1.    The best interests of the child are the most important factor regarding the welfare of the children.
2.    Both parents must take part in raising their child or children.
3.    Parents must always put aside their differences for the benefit of the children.

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