Monday, 14 October 2013


Spreading the message across to Limpopo

From Bakenberg to Kgwana - Three Abba staff members journeyed out to the Limpopo Province on an adoption services road show between 9 – 11 October 2013.

In partnership with the Department of Social Development, our team represented the National Adoption Coalition (NACSA) in hosting 5 sessions.  “We really got into the communities at grassroots level, and our training took us into places such as the Thohoyandou Social Development Centre and the Giyani Community Hall,” said Abba Program Director, Katinka Pieterse. “The purpose of the road show is to create greater awareness among communities on adoption as a family based permanent option for children in need of care and protection.”

Each session attracted about fifty community members ranging from teachers and hospital staff to church and traditional leaders as well as social workers.  The roadshow forms part of a Community Engagement Programme, supporting the behavioural change needed in our society, to ensure that we are putting the needs and rights of our orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children first. 

Igniting community understanding through training

“We need to take this important message to all the villages and Chiefs. We all need to share in the solution of this big problem,” said a community member attending the Bakenberg session.
Insight and sharing about the issues and realities surrounding unplanned pregnancies and abandonment, give influencers in each community a lasting awareness about adoption - including important training in option counselling for people working in related industries.

 You must be the change you wish to see in the world – Mahatma Gandhi

“Day 2 - and we feel a real connection with the two groups we have trained to date.  There are thousands of children that could benefit from adoption. It is important that people in communities start to talk about this important issue. We need to lead the change needed in our society, to embrace adoption as the best permanent solution for children, outside of their family.”

 Adoption = an act of love

The National Adoption Coalition was formed in March 2011, as a representative body for the adoption community.  Nationally NACSA will continue to increase its reach and presence in the regions of South Africa.  It is a critical step in unifying and empowering our communities and our society, to create positive and permanent change in the lives of our children.
The training facility

Delegates busy with training material and making it their own

Katinka & Rene enjoying lunch - local style!

Rene loving the local chicken dish.

Katinka with local leadership

Monday, 7 October 2013


How wonderful to bring you our first blog posting! We are very excited about this new journey and to interact with you via this medium.

We will be posting monthly and will value your questions and comments.

So, here we go....!
In this first posting, we would like to share with you on the MYTHS AND MISPERCEPTIONS ABOUT ADOPTION

In our work and efforts to make adoption more accessible as a concept and in practice, we have noticed just how many misperceptions prevail about the subject in society. These misperceptions are evident in how adoption is portrayed in television programs, magazines and newspaper articles, and even in conversations with the man on the street. They have a serious impact on how society views adoption – from the general public to the formal sector.  We have noticed that even social workers carry negative views on adoption due to misperceptions.

Part of our mission is to open up the conversation to overcome misperceptions by addressing these knowledge gaps in our everyday engagement with people. We believe we can impact the future of adoption in a positive way by replacing myths with objective information. 

From our experience, we are able to group the myths as follows:

1.       Infertility and pregnancy

These myths can cause a lot of emotional pain and place pressure on couples trying to conceive:

Infertility is a woman’s problem.
This is untrue.  It surprises most people to learn that infertility is a female problem in 35% of cases, a male problem in 35% of cases, a combined problem of the couple in 20% of cases, and is unexplained in 10% of cases.  It is essential that both the man and the woman are evaluated during an infertility work-up.
Everyone seems to become pregnant at the drop of a hat.
More than five million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility.  When you seek support, you will find that you are not alone. A step towards feeling less isolated is to join a support group, or talk to others who are struggling to build a family.
It’s all in your head!  Why don’t you relax or take a vacation.  Then you’ll get pregnant!
Don’t worry so much – it just takes time.  You’ll get pregnant, if you’re patient
Infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system.  While relaxing may help you with your overall quality of life, the stress and deep emotions you feel are the result of infertility, not the cause of it.  Improved medical techniques have made it easier to diagnose infertility problems.
Infertility is a medical problem that may be treated.  At least 50% of those who complete an infertility evaluation will respond to treatment with a successful pregnancy.  The success rate in overcoming problems of infertility varies from case to case.  Those who do not seek help have a “spontaneous cure rate” of about 5% after a year of infertility.
If you adopt a baby you’ll get pregnant!
This is one of the most painful myths for couples to hear.  Firstly, it suggests that adoption is only a means to an end, not a happy and successful end in itself.  Secondly, it is simply not true.  Studies reveal that the rate for achieving pregnancy after adopting is the same as for those who do not adopt.
Why don’t you just forget it and adopt?  After all, there are so many babies out there who need homes!
For many, adoption is a happy resolution to infertility.  However, most people explore medical treatment for infertility prior to considering adoption.  In addition, traditional adoption options have changed, and adoption can be more costly and time-consuming than one might expect.  It is, however, still possible to adopt the healthy baby of your dreams.  There are also many older children and children with special needs available for adoption.
Maybe you two are doing something wrong!
Infertility is a medical condition, not a sexual disorder.
I’ve lost interest in my job, hobbies, and my friends because of infertility.  No one understands!  My life will never be the same!
Infertility is a life crisis – it has a ripple effect on all areas of your life.  It is normal to feel a sense of failure that can affect your self-esteem and self-image.  You will move through this crisis.  It is a process, and it may mean letting go of initial dreams.  Throughout this process, stay informed about the wide range of options and connect with others with similar experiences

2.       People interested in adopting

You cannot specify the race of the baby you want to adopt.
Since adoption is a lifelong commitment and a very personal choice of parenting, it is important that you and your family decide on the race and profile of the child that you can integrate into your family – so you DO have the choice.  It is very important not to make a desperate choice without understanding your motive to adopt from another culture and to ensure it is sincere and thought through with care.
It is not possible to adopt these days, as organisations have closed their waiting lists.
This is dependent on the race of the child you are considering adopting.  We work from the perspective of the child’s needs, so strive to maintain a balance between the profile of children in need of permanent families and the profile of prospective adoptive parents on waiting lists.
The reality is that there are very few White and Indian babies legally available for adoption at any given time, due to several reasons like opting  for abortion or single parenting.  We have thousands of potential parents for just a few babies resulting in strict criteria and long waiting times.  Many organizations closed these programs due to the scarcity of babies and rather refer enquiries to other organisations with such programs.
On the other hand, there are, on average, 500 Black and mix-race babies waiting for suitable adoptive parents at any given time and only about 25 Black parents screened for these babies, hence our focus on recruiting and screening prospective parents for these children.
I am not a perfect parent and adopting an unrelated child has just too many risks. What are the chances of success?
Research has shown that the two main things influencing the success of an adoption are the willingness to learn and open your head and heart; and commitment.  It is therefore of utmost importance that parents are well informed and prepared when considering adoption.
We have to adopt and save the children of SA to help us feel less guilty about the history of the country.
Motivation is paramount to the success of the adoption and should never be a way to help a parent deal with their own guilt/loss.  The best motive to adopt is the same as having a biological child - because you want to raise a child and love them unconditionally.
If you adopt with any other motive, the child will sense it and may grow up feeling they must be grateful that you chose them, and if something goes wrong, it is their fault.
Everybody in this country should adopt to address the problem.
Again, adoption is a very personal choice and not something all families feel comfortable with.  It is okay if you don’t. Our friends and families who do make the choice to adopt a child would, however, welcome our support.
There are so many children in need, but then I have to pay money to adopt?
Being screened and prepared as an adoptive parent is a process prescribed by the Children’s Act.  Furthermore the birth parents need to be counseled and the child’s legal and medical adoptability needs to be comprehensively assessed. This can only be done by an accredited adoption social worker and will take an average of 60 hours of professional time at the hourly fee stipulated in the Children’s Act.
As government subsidy for adoption is currently very limited and only available to some organisations, most accredited adoption social workers/organisations are dependent on a professional fee to be able to render these services.
What is important to know is that, in accordance with the Children’s Act, your income may not disqualify you from adopting. A sliding scale is applicable when discussing costs of professional services.  We are committed to finding suitable families, so money should not stand in the way
In the absence of a standardized fee, organisations have their own professional fee structures in accordance with the Act
Nature versus nurture – I need to bring up a stable child, but what about their genes?
Nature versus nurture deals with understanding the difference between the roles of genetics versus the role of environment in the development of adoptive children.  Parents need to understand that their and their family’s perspectives will be very important. One needs to understand the interplay between nature and nurture: If you say only ‘nurture’ plays a role, you take 100% responsibility for a child’s behaviour. If you say only nature plays a role, you take no responsibility at all.
Adoptions should be kept a secret.
Good adoption practice and a golden rule in adoption is that the child should be aware that they are adopted.  The sharing of this information will be an ongoing process and will start shortly after placement. Adoptive parents need to understand that it is the child’s story. It is also the parent’s responsibility to be the first to tell the child; otherwise you lose control of the manner in which the information is told.  It is the child’s story to share!
Research shows that it is preferable that a parent shares everything they know before the child reaches puberty. It is important to share information according to a child’s developmental phases.

Beyond the Myths

 What are the first thoughts that enter your mind when you think about adoption? Do you think that a parent who gives up their child for adoption is throwing their child away? Are you under the impression that only rich, married couples are allowed to adopt? Do you perhaps believe that it is more difficult to raise an adopted child than a biological child? These are just a handful of the many misperceptions that people have about adoption.

At Abba we believe that:

1.       Adoption is an act of love. It can be the most loving option when facing a crisis pregnancy where there is little or no support. Adoption is a difficult and selfless decision made in the best interests of the child.

2.       Adoptions are mostly successful.  Research has shown that, in general, adoptions do not disrupt the child’s life in a negative way. For many reasons, adoptions are considered more successful than foster care.

3.       Adopted children seldom display behavioural problems. According to research, adoptive families are more open to seeking external support during difficult times, so are less prone to serious individual or family dysfunction.

4.       Adoptive families needn’t be perfect. Families that have experienced and overcome problems are often better adoptive resources. Positive outcomes for adoptive families and children depend on good, solid and insightful preparation and education of adoptive parents. These resources are available to adoptive families throughout their lives.

5.       Any child can be considered adoptable. Adoptability is determined by those social workers closest to the child and the birth mother, and is based on a variety of factors.

6.       Effective parenting is not dependant on one’s marital status, religious affiliation or financial status. The most important aspect in adoption is the prospective adoptive parent’s commitment to parenting. Ideal adoptive families have sufficient financial means to respond to their child’s basic needs.

7.       Working parents can make good adoptive parents.

8.       Children can be successfully adopted by families of different races and ethnicities.

9.       In the past, adoptions focused on finding babies for infertile couples. Today the focus is on finding families for waiting children. The focus has moved from “investigating suitability” to “education and preparation of adoptive parents”.

10.   Adoption is not a result of a forced intervention by external parties. It is a proactive action by a birth family or social worker. The terms of the adoption are negotiated with both the birthmother and father who are seen as key decision-makers. They may choose to be involved in the matching and selection process of the adoptive parent(s) and to receive information about their child’s adjustment to the adoptive family.

11.   The screening and preparation process that adoptive applicants go through is very important. This can be time-consuming, but is crucial to the success of the adoption.
Hope that you enjoyed the first sharing of Abba-thoughts on adoption.
Until next month - keep on igniting the passion for adoption!