Monday, 22 June 2015

App guides parents through child visas

A local internet app that helps parents navigate South Africa’s maze of new child visa regulations has been accessed more than 8 000 times in its first three weeks.

The South Africa Child Visa Checklist app, which went live on May 30, is a free web-based service created by travel company the Discover Africa Group.
The app was set up after strict new regulations for children under 18 travelling to or from SA came into effect on June 1 despite opposition from within the tourism industry.
The regulations include the need for children to have an unabridged birth certificate, and other documents on a case-by-case basis, including court orders and adoption certificates.
The app was first developed as an in-house aid for travel consultants, before being published online for anyone to use.
Its creators said it was developed to “simply explain” the 15 different documents and 37 “unique scenarios” for children travelling in and out of SA.
“(It) removes the fear, uncertainty and complexity faced by parents trying to work out exactly which documents they need when travelling with their youngsters.”
Discover Africa Group spokeswoman Asanda Mcoyana said this week the app had been shared 1 500 times on Facebook since its launch.
She said the group had received “thank you” e-mails from travel agencies abroad.
Many agents said that they been using the tool to advise their clients travelling to SA.
The app, which can be accessed on mobile and desktop devices, gives users a step-by-step guide to which documents they need when travelling to or from SA with minors.
It does this by asking multiple-choice questions of travellers, such as who the child is travelling with; if the child’s parents are married, divorced or legally separated; and if the child has been adopted or is in foster care.
Visit for more information.

Friday, 19 June 2015

CHOOSE TO CARE - Unplanned Pregnancy Campaign

Yesterday marked the launch of the Unplanned Pregnancy Campaign, "Choose to Care".

The aim of the campaign is to change mindsets from "shaming and blaming" young girls who find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy, to "care and compassion", and the desire to help them make wise choices for themselves and their unborn child.

Visit the website as a wonderful tool, full of information! Also refer people to the website for help.

Please “like” and “share” with as many people as possible. 

Let’s keep on igniting a passion!

Congratulations Albie!!!

We at Abba Specialist Adoption and  Social Services would like to congratulate Albie Jackson on her graduation as a Social Worker.

Well done Albie, we're very proud of you.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

#ChildProtectionWeek - It also takes a village to rescue a baby


2015-06-09 09:06
Sergeant Nolan Wallace comforts the ice-cold but crying baby girl as he carries her from the pit latrine.
Sergeant Nolan Wallace comforts the ice-cold but crying baby girl as he carries her from the pit latrine. (Supplied)

The story in today’s Witness about the rescue of a newborn baby girl that was tossed down a pit toilet has both uplifting and depressing elements.
What would drive a mother to do this, is the first of many questions readers may have when reading the story. It is easy to look on in judgment of the mother that threw the baby into the toilet, and while this can never be condoned, it was probably the action of a desperate woman who may have felt she had few other options.
A study by the National Adoption Coalition published online may help answer the questions formulated in response to this story. The 2014 study quotes Child Welfare SA’s estimate that more than 3 500 babies were abandoned in South Africa in 2010.
They say the contributing factors to child abandonment are restrictive legislation, poverty, mass urbanisation, high levels of violence — ostensibly gender based violence and rape, extreme gender inequality, high levels of HIV/Aids, and diminishing family support.
The study also highlights African ancestral beliefs which indicate that the ‘Western’ practise of adoption is seen as problematic.
The National Adoption Coalition also touches on the sugar daddy phenomenon as a cause of teenage pregnancy and says abortion remains a contentious issue with women choosing this option often being labelled as immoral rather than as a woman making an informed and responsible choice.
The study also says that 65% of abandoned babies are newborn and primary site of abandonment is toilets, drains, sewers and gutters. Rubbish sites are the second most used location to leave an unwanted child.
The old adage that it takes a village to raise a child is perhaps particularly apt in the context of child abandonment.
While it is easy to blame government for not placing enough emphasis on birth control, sex education and social welfare support, society must look to itself and ask what more could be done to support and assist desperate mothers.
The beacons of hope here are that the baby survived, thanks to her rescuer.
It is not the first time that Search and Rescue policeman Lieutenant Jack Haskins has lowered himself into the putrid recesses of a pit latrine to rescue an infant. Haskins has once again shown that his courage and dedication to helping the community he works in is both selfless and heroic

Thursday, 4 June 2015

#ChildProtectionWeek 2015 & COURAGE

It is #ChildProtectionWeek 2015 in South Africa and Abba Adoptions will be involved in several outreach projects this week. Keep an eye on our Twitter-feed @abbaadoptions for updates.

And remember to wear your green ribbon in support of Child Protection Week!

Abba Adoptions is very proud to be an active partner of the National Adoption Coalition of South Africa (NACSA).

NACSA recently announced the launch of Courage, an innovative child protection community engagement programme aimed at empowering communities to identify and solve their child protection challenges.

Herewith an extract of the official press release:

"Courage was developed through a partnership between NACSA, the Swedish Foundation for Children without Parental Care (Foraldraslosa barn) and project leader Dee Blackie, a child protection and change management specialist.

Courage is a picture based programme that uses posters, maps and a range of interactive training material to assist child protection officers, organisations, families and individuals to engage around the issues they face in their communities.  It helps participants to recognise the rights and needs of children, to identify and prioritise their child protection challenges and then gives them the strategies and tools they need to solve them.  The material can be used for a range of different purposes including: 
  • Prevention Programmes: Communication and awareness; advocacy; and capacity building.
  • Early Intervention: Sex, conception & pregnancy awareness; option counselling for crisis pregnancy; strategies for positive parenting; and individual or community empowerment.
  • Statutory Intervention: Child abandonment management, counselling of parents & children, court preparation; and stakeholder management.
  • Child Placement: Alternative care solutions; and adoption counselling.

“We decided to call the programme ‘Courage’ as we wanted to develop it as a positive and inspiring ‘ingredient’ in any community or child protection organisation.  When we asked social workers, psychologists, teachers, healthcare practitioners and police, all of them said they needed courage to deal with the child protection challenges that they face every day, and with that the brand was born”, explains Dee Blackie, global project leader.

Work on Courage started a year ago, when AdoptionCentrum Sweden secured funding to assist with the development of a holistic child protection programme that could be used throughout their global network.  Christina Gibson of Foraldraslosa barn explains their motivation for partnering with NACSA: “We wanted a toolkit that could be used anywhere in the world, that was user friendly and could help with capacity building of our stakeholders.  This tool would also need to strengthen the knowledge, attitude and skills of duty bearers to apply a legally secure caretaking system for children without parental care or at risk, and we believe Courage is just that toolkit”.

“Many child protection programmes are reactive and only serve to solve problems that already exist”, says Katinka Pieterse, Chair of NACSA, “the beauty of the Courage-programme is that it focuses on proactive and preventative solutions”. “Courage is aligned to Global, African and South African children’s rights declarations, and it also makes the implementation of the South African Children’s Act very practical and easy to apply,” adds Pieterse.

South Africa has 18.6 million children, which represents 36% of our total population.  Over a million children are born every year, however, they face a number of challenges.  Violence and violence-related injury is amongst the highest in the world in South Africa and is deeply embedded in our culture due to our troubled past.  The dominance of patriarchy in our communities tends to devalue the role of women and children, which has led to very high levels of domestic violence and abuse.  Social services lack the capacity to deal with many of the child protection challenges that they are faced with and poverty and inequality continues to hamper the majority of South African children’s development and growth.

Courage has been developed on the principle that all child protection challenges stem from some form of disempowerment.  It identifies 35 distinct child protection challenges, and all of these can be summarized into seven ‘disempowerment themes’. These themes include societal violence and inequality, exploitation, low self-esteem, abuse, addiction, ignorance and neglect.  However, for each of these disempowerment themes, there is an equally strong empowerment tool that Courage uses to drive a change in behaviour.  These empowerment tools include developing community values or a belief set, strengthening community partnerships, building self-esteem, encouraging love and empathy, harnessing leadership, growing knowledge and turning strategies into tangible action and delivery.

The Courage brand identity was developed by Circle Design and the interactive training material by Trainiac, a picture based training consultancy.  The engagement programme was piloted in South Africa, Zambia and Lesotho in March of this year with child protection experts in each country.  Knowledge and insight was collected from representatives of government, social development, NGO’s, safety and security, health and education.  The material was refined based on these pilot workshops and the final toolkit is now available for downloading at, a printed version can also be purchased at cost price.

Everyone has a role to play in the protection of our children, but often the challenges seem too great and the solutions too complex to enact real change” explains Blackie. “Courage is a practical toolkit that empowers individuals, families and organisations to develop and implement simple yet effective child protection programmes in any unique environment, we call it empowered care”.

Visit the website for all info and to download the toolkit:

Also read Dee Blackie's (Child Protection Activist) blog post ahead of Child Protection Week:

Article: The Star, 01 June 2015, page 2

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Interview on KykNet, Prontuit: Katinka Pieterse on adoption in SA

Recently our Program Director, Katinka Pieterse, spoke on KykNet's Prontuit about the challenges and processes of adoption in SA.

Follow the link to watch the interview on YouTube:

Monday, 1 June 2015

Visa laws fail to land at OR Tambo

First appeared in June 1 2015 at 12:15pm 

 Comment on this story
IOL ST Airport 652INDEPENDENT MEDIAPREPARED: Vivian and Lynne Alexander arrive at OR Tambo this morning with their baby. They were not asked for an unabridged birth certificate by customs, despite having the document. Picture: Boxer Ngwenya
Johannesburg - Although the minister of Home Affairs vowed the new immigration regulations would be in place on Monday, his officials appear not to have taken heed.
On Monday morning The Star visited OR Tambo to find travellers walking through customs without being asked for unabridged birth certificates for their children.
Vivian and Lynne Alexander came from Israel with their 19- month-old son, arriving on Monday morning on an overnight flight as SA citizens. They were not asked for an unabridged birth certificate despite having the document.
Mayihlome Tshwete, spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs, could not comment on why officials were not asking for the unabridged certificates.
Home Affairs has assured prospective adoptive parents that the visa regulations won’t hinder intercountry adoptions.
Up until two weeks ago, the regulations were a concern for overseas parents wanting to adopt South African children.
“Adoptions have already been decreasing. When we first heard about this regulation in September last year, we were told by Home Affairs there’d be no exceptions,” said Katinka Pieterse, programme director at Abba Adoptions and Social Services.
Pieterse told The Star the visa regulations would delay the intercountry process of adoption causing parents coming from overseas to be stuck in South Africa for over a year because of all the red tape surrounding the new regulations.
“It takes months for international parents to adopt and this would prolong this because of amendment processes, court orders and getting hold of unabridged birth certificates,” said Pieterse.
The National Adoption Coalition South Africa (Nacsa) met with officials in an attempt to get an easier process put into place.
“We have 250 adoptions a year and we understood that if some sort of easier process was not put in place, it would deter intercountry adoptions from taking place.”
Pieterse said there was a concern about children born in illegal clinics, who were abandoned and didn’t have birth certificates.
“It’s something we are addressing so these children can be adopted locally or internationally.”
But two weeks ago, Home Affairs came up with a standard operating procedure that should keep the international adoption process to a few months.
This procedure includes a final order of adoption from the registrar, the unabridged birth certificate with the names of the adoptive parents and a court order confirming the adoption.
Still, Nacsa believes the regulations may protect children if implemented correctly. “If this new law works properly, it will prevent child trafficking,” said Pieterse.
Meanwhile, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe told the World Economic Forum on Friday that the government was considering reviewing the regulations.
“They have had an unintended consequence, which needs to be addressed,” he said, according to Monday’s Business Report.
David Frost, chief executive of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa), said on Sunday the impact could already be seen in the 20 percent drop in bookings for this month. “We are going to take big hits,” he predicted.
Satsa, along with the Southern African Travel Agents (Asata) and the Board of Airline Representatives South Africa, said last week that from May to December last year, the country had lost 66 000 foreign tourists as a result of the pending regulations.
“The total direct, indirect and induced impact on the economy in 2014 was a negative R2.6-billion and a potential loss of more than 5 800 jobs,” they said.
The number of foreign tourists who decide not to travel to South Africa this year could increase to 100 000, with a direct tourism spend of R1.4bn, while the total net loss to the GDP could be about R4.1bn.
And 9 300 jobs could be axed.
The outbound industry is also set to lose at least R8-million, with further job losses likely.
Otto de Vries, the chief executive of Asata, said the industry was “expecting chaos”.
Air China has cancelled its planned direct flights here.
A survey carried out by The Telegraph in the UK found most people (61 percent) who took part in the poll would not visit South Africa because of the regulations.
James Vos, the DA’s spokesperson on tourism, described Malusi Gigaba, Home Affairs Minister, and Derek Hanekom, Tourism Minister, as “tourism terminators”.

Home Affairs says the regulations are in line with an international obligation to curb child trafficking, saying about 30 000 minors are trafficked through South Africa each year.
But the industry claims this figure is a myth. It came from Operation Mobilisation, an NGO, which has said it was misquoted.
The Star