Thursday, 21 November 2013


On Sunday, 17 November, Carte Blanche posed the question – “Can adoption be this hard?”  The segment highlighted the frustrations of adopting a child and a callous bureaucracy that is clearly blocking the chances of many children to find permanent family care through adoption.
There is no doubt that the adoption community has received widespread attention in 2013 – this coverage ranges from initiatives by the National Adoption Coalition to raise awareness around adoptions, to negative reports of an inaccessible and bureaucratic process. This lengthy process and red tape is something that we need to actively challenge and change.
So many South African children could benefit from adoption and yet they do not. Abba believes that children should grow up in loving permanent families and together with other stakeholders we have worked tirelessly for 24 months on a special campaign to “Ignite a Passion for Adoption” and to promote a model of good practice. We are out there in the communities, spreading the message because there is a scarcity of specialized skill and knowledge.  It is important that we develop the capacity and knowledge base of all service providers in this field so that more children can benefit from adoption.
By nature adoption touches heartstrings, changes lives and carries such responsibility in making sure each child’s future is safe and protected.  There are twists and turns for every case.  The process of adoption and what is seen as being in a particular child’s best interest opens up a very complex and often difficult conversation, with no easy answers.  Ultimately adopting a child is based on sound legal and ethical practices without compromising the child’s best interest.  It is very important to create a realistic understanding of the challenges within the adoption system and community. At times the public does not get the full picture of a case because of the legal implications and confidentiality of the case – this makes adoption even scarier.
On days like these with adoption practices exposed, we need to pull together.  There is much work to do, but lets not forget that there are triumphs and excitement, great days and great steps forward, training and light bulb moments, love and hope, happiness from many children and couples, and the creation of families.  This is the way we achieve and its through commitment and passion, being bold and firm that we will progress.  Pressure to change the system will enable us to do more of the same.
NACSA summed it up by saying: Adoption will possibly never be that easy because of its lifelong implications. But it should never be that hard either.
Amen to that.
Katinka Pieterse – Program Director, Abba.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013



Crisis or unplanned pregnancies occur all the time. But what exactly is a crisis pregnancy? In essence, a crisis pregnancy is an unplanned pregnancy, where the birthmother had intercourse with no intention of falling pregnant and having a child.

Society often places judgment on young women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, and they are often isolated and without support.

There are, however, numerous circumstances surrounding unplanned pregnancies and each birthmother’s situation is unique. Some examples of these circumstances are listed below:

·         Rape
·         Date rape
·         Contraceptive measures failed
·         Peer and group pressure to have intercourse
·         Drug and alcohol use
·         Fatherless upbringing
·         Divorce / single parenting
·         Growing up without extended family support
·         Emotional instability
·         Psycho-social factors
·         Inadequate sex education
·         Poverty
·         Sexual molestation
·         Incest
·         “One night stand”
·         Young teenage and student relationships

It is clear from this list that a range of factors may influence the extent of the birthmother’s support structure, her emotional and socio-economic situation and thus her ability to raise the child. It becomes evident that there is no single best approach for dealing with the crisis, however there are a range of options available.

It is crucial that a person experiencing an unplanned pregnancy have access to information about options or choices available to her.

These may include:

·         Abortion – Often considered the quickest solution to the crisis, however speed does not always allow time to think through potential long-term consequences.

·         Parenting – Keeping the baby and raising it to adulthood.

·         Foster care – A short-time placement of the child with caregivers, which allows the mother time to improve her circumstances.

·         Kingship care – The child is temporarily cared for by the extended family of the biological mother or father.

·         Adoption – A permanent family is selected for the child from screened prospective adoptive parents.

Each of these options has potentially positive or negative aspects and consequences. This range of factors has emerged from research and experiences internationally but also through our own experiences at Abba, and is largely dependent on specific circumstances which differ from case to case. Some positive and negative considerations may include:

·      Baby stays in the family
·      Birth-parent takes responsibility
·      Family and extended family have a relationship with the baby
·      Mother sees her baby growing up
·         Loss or delay in schooling and education
·         Challenges of single parenting
·         Financial impact
·         Social isolation from friends
·         Effect on dating / future relationships
·         Effects of lack of preparedness for parenting

·      Fast and relatively easy to action.

·      Pregnancy can remain a secret.

·      Legal and illegal abortion clinics are readily available.
·      Emotional relief that the crisis is averted.
·         Emotionally she could feel relieved after an abortion, but can suffer from “post abortion stress”, guilt and regret.
·         Health complications if not performed by a qualified medical practitioner.

·      Temporary placement.
·      Gives the mother time to improve her circumstances.
·      Options include family foster care or neutral foster care.
·      Foster care grants will enable foster parents to take care of the baby.
·      Later reintegration between mother and child.
·         Child often lacks consistency , bonding, security
·         Biological mother could use this option as an escape
·         Disruption in placements
·         Child may remain in foster care system indefinitely
·         Child may spend entire childhood without a permanent family unit

·      Mother makes a contribution to an adoption plan of her choosing
·      Mother may opt to select the adoptive parents on behalf of her child
·      Child gets permanent, stable home
·        Mother may be judged as giving or throwing the baby away
·        The surrender, release of the baby for adoption may be out of the birthparent’s control
·        Mother experience loss , guilt and grief

No-one can tell a woman facing a crisis pregnancy what the right choice is. It is important that she is aware of her options and is supported to make the decision that is right for her and her child.
This is at the heart of what we do at Abba – we educate the birthmother on her choices, without placing judgment, and support her throughout the process regardless of what her final decision may be.
It is important that women who are faced with an unplanned pregnancy have time to clarify their feelings about the unplanned pregnancy. Take as much time as you need. Consider some of the following questions, to clarify how you feel about the different options:
How do you feel about becoming a parent?
What are your values and beliefs?
What are your dreams, future plans?
What support do you have?
If possible, share your feelings and considerations with someone close to you. Seek counselling if possible.

Here are 2 true-life testimonies after Abba supported and educated birthmothers in the different choices, following an unplanned pregnancy.

 From a birthmother who chose to keep her baby:
‘Ek moet regtig baie, baie dankie se aan julle. Dis regtig net die Here se genade dat ek in verbinding met julle getree het. As dit nie vir julle was nie, weet ek regtig nie wat sou van *Anna geword het nie. Ek is regtig baie lief vir julle almal en julle harte is beslis in die regte plek! Ek voel regtig soos deel van die Abba gesin, weereens baie dankie!’

 From a birthmother who chose adoption:
‘How are you doing?  [And] I need to really say thank you for what you have made me become. You are my hero and I look up to you!! Thank [you] for helping me get through this and always being here for me. It really means a lot to me and I know that God did this because I had to meet you and bless a family with a baby. Thank you and I really wish you all the happiness in the world and may God put his angels around you all the time. THANKS again. Love u plenty much. Anonymous’