Babies of the heart
Adoption starts online
The most useful adoption website is www.adoption.org.za. It was set up by the National Adoption Coalition of South Africa (NACSA), a non-profit organisation that aims to educate and create awareness among South Africans about adoption as an option when deciding how to deal with a crisis pregnancy, how to become a parent, or how to extend a family.
The website is an excellent, credible resource: you’ll find all you need to know about the adoption process, types of adoptions, statistics (though, they seem outdated), myths, norms and standards of adoption practice, the Children’s Act, the role of professionals and inter-country adoptions – and that’s just under “Adoption Information”. Other menus include: Birth Parents, Adoptive Parents, Adoptees, Find Professionals, and Adoption Stories.
Adoption is an intense subject and is, to a large extent, very much about loss: the birth parent’s loss, the adopter’s loss of a child, fertility or childbearing years (often the reason people adopt), and, crucially, the adoptee’s loss of biological family. Then there is the language of adoption, which could easily be the subject of an entire article. The point is that it calls for sensitivity, empathy for all parties, and discretion around what is appropriate to share and what isn’t. When you enter the realm of transracial adoption, which is the most common way of adopting in South Africa, it can be a minefield.
This makes adoption a tricky subject for a social media site, where sensitivity, empathy and discretion tend to be in short supply.
Enter “Passionate About Adoption”, a closed group started by Cape Town-based psychologist Jean Luyt. The group, which has almost 3 000 members, is for people passionate about adoption in South Africa to share their stories about adoption.
“We are happy to hear about any aspect of the process: the good; the bad and the interesting and/or frustrating. It is also a place to ask honest questions and get answers from people who have been or are going through the same experience. In this group we support each other and aim to create an atmosphere of mutual respect, so there are no stupid questions,” writes Jean.
“Please make sure any responses to posts are done in the spirit of understanding. Even if you don’t agree with the person, please keep interactions positive.
“Please also make sure that you think carefully about what you write about your adopted child. They have a right to privacy and although this is a closed group, FB is a very public space. The guiding principle should be: would you be happy for your child to read this once they become old enough to join the group themselves?”
I’ve adopted and I learn a lot from questions posted by members of the group. I’ve also realised from reading about the experiences of others that I have been very fortunate to have had such a smooth and swift process.
“Adopt and Foster SA” is another good Facebook group. It has about 1 700 members and aims to support those whose lives have been touched by adoption and fostering. It’s a place where you will find all sorts of questions, from “Can anybody please recommend an adoption agency in my area?” to questions like, “What are the criteria for a biological parent to get a
child back once placed in foster care?” BLOGS
I’ve really struggled to find good local adoption blogs. In fact, there are only two that I would recommend. My favourite is Sharon van Wyk’s Blessed Barrenness: www. theblessedbarrenness.co.za. Sharon’s style is frank and her writing is insightful. In 2015, she was winner of the best parenting blog in the African Blogger Awards.
She writes about her journey through infertility to adoption, the dumb things people say about adoption, speaking to your children about diversity, how her five-year-old shared her adoption story with her class, and much, much more.
I also enjoy Heart Mama – heartmamablog.co.za – but for very different reasons. As a mother of three adoptees, Julie Kynaston’s blog is about sharing the stories of adoptive moms. In that way, it’s a little formulaic: all moms are profiled by Q&A, the same questions every time. However, it is beautifully done and I’ve found the stories heartwarming and upbeat. YB
I’VE ALSO REALISED FROM READING ABOUT THE EXPERIENCES OF OTHERS THAT I HAVE BEEN VERY FORTUNATE TO HAVE HAD SUCH A SMOOTH AND SWIFT PROCESS