A new qualitative research study on child abandonment and adoption in the context of African ancestral beliefs in contemporary urban South Africa was released today by the National Adoption Coalition South Africa (NACSA) ahead of Child Protection Week.
The research undertaken by Dee Blackie, a consultant to the National Adoption Coalition of SA, is the result of an intensive, 1-year long research project that will provide NACSA with the understanding and insights needed to address the growing social crisis of child abandonment and declining adoption rates in South Africa.
Blackie’s fieldwork, conducted from March 2013 to February 2014, involved in-depth interviews and participant observation with young women experiencing unplanned pregnancy, women who had been apprehended for abandoning their children, community members, police officers, nurses and social workers, baby home managers and caregivers, adoption social workers, foster care and adoptive parents, psychologists and psychiatrists, legal experts, traditional healers and abandoned children (predominantly in Alexandra, Soweto and Tembisa).
The following facts and findings were uncovered in the study:
Statistics on child abandonment in South Africa:
- Child Welfare SA estimated that more than 3500 babies were abandoned in SA in 2010.
- There are no current statistics detailing the number of children who are abandoned in South Africa on an annual basis, but most child protection organisations believe that the numbers have increased significantly over the past decade.
Statistics on children in South Africa:
- There are 18.5 million children in South Africa.
- Of these children, 4.5 million live with neither of their parents.
- Orphans have increased by 30% over the decade to approximately 5.2 million children.
- Over this same period, foster care grants have increased by over 70% whilst adoption has decreased by more than 50%.
- An estimated 150 000 children live in child headed households, over 13 000 live in residential care facilities and an estimated 10 000 live on the streets of South Africa.
- In 2013, over 11 million children were registered for child support grants and over half a million children for foster care grants.
Statistics on adoption:
Based on a review of the Registry of Adoptable Children & Parents (RACAP) as at November 2013:- There are 297 unmatched parents registered
- 14 black, 190 white and 43 Indian, the remainder are unspecified.
- Most are seeking a child of their own race.
- Girls are preferred to boys where gender was specified.
-50 applicants would consider a child with special needs (HIV or with physical or mental disabilities).There are 428 children unmatched children available for adoption
-398 black, 3 white, 9 termed 'mixed race', the remainder are unspecified)
-60% were abandoned, less than 40% formally consented for adoption by parents/family.
-38 are HIV positive, 22 born premature, 53 have other special needs challenges.
In summary, there are only 29 possible parents for around 429 children registered on RACAP.
Only 1699 adoptions took place in 2013, from 2840 in 2004.