Babies are miracles, I don’t care what anyone says, they really are. It takes giving birth to one, continuously trying for one, or being on an adoption waiting list to understand that.
For many, the first choice is having a child of their own, which does not always happen automatically. For others though, adoption makes more sense or is the only option. I am someone who has never actually considered adoption but I was going through my twitter feed the other day and was so intrigued by this tweet I saw from a mommy called Donna.
I couldn’t help but reach out to her to dig deeper into her story and I learnt so much from it. Below is the conversation we had on her adoption story.
Donna’s Adoption Story
You knew from an early age that you wanted to adopt. What was the main reason behind wanting to adopt?
To be honest I do not really remember. You would think that such a momentous decision or desire would stem from something. I just knew that I would adopt one day. What I can say is that my views towards adoption have matured. When I was younger, it was partially about “saving” a child but with time and lots of reading and listening, I have learned that adoption is not about saving children. It is one of a couple of ways of forming a family and for me personally, it is my first choice.
Was there a big difference between going through an adoption agency and a private social worker?
I cannot really comment on this because I was with the adoption agency for such a short period. I do think that a very crucial thing is the connection between you and the social worker. The social worker is one of the most important people you will ever meet. It must be someone you can trust to do what is needed for the potential adoptee, the first parent(s) if they are involved and yourself. I am grateful for my social worker every day.
Do you have any connection to your son’s biological parents?
I have no connection to them. All communication (if any) is through the social worker.
What were the biggest challenges you faced?
Talking to my parents about my decision and getting them to understand my reasons was hard. Like many Black African parents, they wanted the “fairytale” (lobola, wedding and babies – in that order), and they had to reassess what they wanted and align it with my desires. What I learned is that there is some fear around adoption and a lack of education around the legal aspects. So just sitting them down and having that hard discussion and answering their questions helped to ease some of their fears.
Another big challenge is waiting for the legal aspects to be finalised. Without the court order, there is very little that can be done (e.g. I cannot complete applications to schools, apply for a passport or travel by air within SA without a whole lot of documents stating that he has been placed in my care pending the court order) and in Johannesburg, you wait a long time for the court order.
Was your family supportive?
My sisters and brothers were amazing. My parents love my son completely. I actually think he may be their favorite grandson. I could not ask for better family support than what I have received and continue to receive.
Does your child know that he is adopted, if not do you plan to tell him?
I do talk to him about it and it is more about me practicing telling him his story, so that when he can start to understand I am not fumbling over my words. So yes, I will definitely tell him, in an age-appropriate manner about his adoption.
What advice would you give to someone that is looking to adopt?
- Know why you want to adopt. Children that are available for adoption are not charity cases or second best. They are looking to be loved, as if born to you. If you have any doubts about this, stop and reassess.
- Read and listen to the stories of adoptees, first parents and adoptive parents (not Hollywood movies). The hard stuff that will cause you to pause and think about what it really means.
Be honest throughout the process, with yourself, your partner (if applicable), your support system and your social worker.
- Have those difficult discussions with your family and your support system. Involve your social worker if necessary.
- When you have adopted or in the process, remember that your child’s story is theirs, and theirs alone. Leave it to your child to decide who and how much of their story they tell. And in saying this, never hide from your child that they are adopted.
For parents looking for information on how to adopt children in South Africa visit Oasis Haven