What will happen to thousands of abandoned Children in South Africa?
Abandoned, orphaned and adoptable children need families, not institutions, to empower them. The Children’s Amendment Bill of 2019 must be withdrawn and reworked.Stated by Debbie Wybrow, who shares the feelings of the Western Cape Child Protection Collaborative
The National Department of Social Development’s proposed Bill contains drastic changes to laws that do not have South Africans children’s best interest at heart and will undermine their constitutional, legal and human right to family life through adoption. This Bill has caused much outcry and media attention:
The Bayakhanya Foundation (a social and legal advocacy organisation) and Children Matter SA have been lobbying for a complete overhaul of the Children’s Amendment Bill of 2019, which was submitted to Parliament in February.
This Bill sought to address “critical gaps and challenges in the underlying child care and protection system” according to the notice of intention. An order from the High Court was for the bill to provide a comprehensive legislative system relating to challenges faced in foster care.
The main focus and outcry from media, legal groups, civil society and non government organisations has been focused on the new proposed changes surrounding adoption.
The Children’s Amendment Bill aims to make it illegal to charge for adoption services which include the legal, social work, therapy, medical and other costs all associated with adoption. According to Robyn Wolfson Vorster (An adoption advocate), this will lead to private practitioners no longer supporting the process and leave it up to the state (who are overburdened and not coping at all) to process the adoptions. “Adoption is already low and the numbers will decline further if the Bill is passed” says Robyn. (Read more about her article on Why Adoption Matters).
According to Debbie Wybrow the founder of Bayakhanya Foundation, the Bill had certain other provisions which diminished children’s rights to be cared for within families. “Examples include sections relating to assessing the best interests of children, interim safe care, foster care, permanency planning and adoption,” she said. Furthermore, children who were differently abled, displaced or “non-South African” have not been sufficiently provided for. The explanatory memorandum filed with the bill suggests that children should rather be institutionalised than grow up in the care of families who are not of the same colour or background, this is of great concern to Wybrow and many others.
The NGOs also feel that the Act also fails to adequately address the issue of parents who experience “crisis-pregnancies” (due to rape or other circumstances) and subsequent child abandonment, as well as provisions for foster care and adoption. No provisions were made for parents in crisis to safely relinquish children, even though abandonment is a growing concern in South Africa. In light of these concerns a petition has been started by Debbie Wybrow that objects to the Children’s Amendment Bill and asks for an extension on the deadline so that all relevant stakeholders and children are able to provide input.
Click this link to sign the petition today. No decision has yet been made and with each pressure from society these harmful changes may not be enacted.
Children Matter SA have also started a petition and ask that you please add your voice to our call to have further consultations which we hope will change how the Act will be amended.
Bayakhana Foundation believes that through advocacy and intervention, we can aim to secure the right of every unparented child to a family through advocacy and intervention.
Bayakhana Foundation is a member of CPC through Connect Network
Bayakhana is an adoption advocacy organisations affiliated to the Child Protection Collaborative through Connect Network Contact Debbie Wybrow at [email protected]
Arise Family is based in Heideveld on the Cape Flats in Cape Town, Arise is uniquely positioned to impact existing families in resource-poor communities and where this is not possible, to work city-wide to promote new families through adoption and foster care.
Arise Family is affiliated to the Child Protection Collaborative through Connect Network . Arise Blog