There are an estimated 18.8 million children in South Africa (40% of the total population). Of this number, an estimated 1.5 to 2 million children could benefit from adoption. Sadly, only 0.2% of adoptable children are actually being adopted, and this appears to be declining.
According to Katinka Pieterse, Vice Chair of the National Adoption Coalition (NACSA), adoption is treated with a great deal of mistrust. “Globally, adoption has been shown to be the best permanent solution for children outside of the family. The low prevalence of marriage in SA and resulting vulnerability of single mothers, the weakening of the traditional extended family, and the impact of poverty and HIV/AIDS, has led to an alarming increase in abandoned babies.”
Nearly 40% of adoptable children are currently in foster care. This is far from an ideal situation for a child; not only is there a lack of stability or a sense of belonging, it is also not a permanent solution.
Katinka became involved with NACSA to be part of a collaborative long-term process of raising awareness around adoptions in SA. “All our initiatives are aimed at preventing abandonment of children, recruiting adoptive parents in SA and assisting young disempowered women finding themselves in unplanned pregnancies,” and she adds: “We are also uniting a previously fragmented adoption sector and we have developed crucial partnerships that have a united voice which assists with policy drafting, lobbying and advocacy initiatives.”
The Coalition focuses on a number of areas: creating awareness and educating people about adoption, advocacy, transformation, engaging in key partnerships, advocacy and implementation of the Children’s Act.
Katinka gets a great deal of satisfaction from her work. “Many young women may feel that their only solution is abandonment. When we are able to help them deal with the crisis of an unplanned pregnancy, I know that we are making a difference.”
NACSA has also started the process of uniting stakeholders in a fragmented environment. They have also succeeded in having very sensitive but important conversations about cultural differences and how this impacts what we perceive to be in the best interest of children. Helping children to find a loving home is a wonderful act of love.
This is Katinka’s story of help. To find out how you can help: