Ba­bies of the heart

Adop­tion starts on­line

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -


The most use­ful adop­tion web­site is www.adop­ 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. the­b­lessed­bar­ren­ 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 – heart­mam­ – 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


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