FAQ: Can a white family adopt a Black child?

Compiled by Robyn Wolfson Vorster

Yes, transracial adoption is permitted in the Children’s Act. 

However, the Department of Social Development prioritises placement of children in same race and preferably same-ethnicity families.  For this reason, children are placed on the Register for Adoptable Children and Parents (RACAP) for a 30 day period waiting for a same race placement.  It is only if a same race family is not found in that 30 day period that a black child can be placed in a white family. 

The reason that transracial adoption of black children into white families is common is because there are more black children than black families on the register.

In addition, there are a very small number of white children available for adoption, and more white adoptive parents than children.


FAQ: Can I adopt a newborn

Compiled by Robyn Wolfson Vorster

In theory it is possible to adopt a newborn, especially if you have a prior relationship with the birth mother and she has selected you to adopt her baby. 

However, it is discouraged because the Children’s Act allows birth mothers 60 days after signing consent to withdraw consent.  In addition, the birth father also needs to sign consent if he is present (and again, he can withdraw consent in a 60 day period).  If the parents are absent, the social worker advertises for the parents in a local publication and then has to wait 90 days for a response.  Only then can a child be placed.  In addition, the child also has to remain on the Register for Adoptable Children and Parents (RACAP) until a same race family is found. 

If the child is placed before all of these waiting periods are completed, there is a chance that the adoption can fail.  For this reason, social workers are reluctant to place children before these waiting periods are completed.

FAQ: How long does a name change take?

Usually is a difficult word since there are many factors involved.

It can take around 9 months, sometimes even longer and for some lucky parents, it happened in a shorter time frame.

It is very important to keep certified copies of your application and all your documents, should you application be misplaced.

Keep following up on the toll free number, so that you can track the process and progress of your application and pick up if there is an issue sooner rather than later.

FAQ: What is required to process the name change at the Home Affairs office?

Section 245 (2): An application in terms of subsection (1) { mentioned above} must be accompanied by –

(a)    The relevant adoption order as registered by the adoption registrar;

(b)   The birth certificate of the child;

(c)    The prescribed birth registration form; and

(d)   A fee prescribed in terms of any applicable law, if any.

Changing a name is something that both parents (whose name are indicated on the new unabridged birth certificate) have to consent to and therefore they both need to be present at to sign the application form.

FAQ: Is there a time limit to name changes after an adoption is granted?

Since it is not a requirement to change the child’s name, there is not a time frame stipulated and can be done at any time.  Important to note:

1)      Before the child reaches the age of 18 years, the application is done by the adoptive parents; after the age of 18 a child can change his/her name or surname on their own volition.

2)      If the name and surname is not changed, all the child’s official documentation (school, med aid, passport) will remain in his original name.  This should not pose a problem if accompanied by an  unabridged birth certificate that has the adoptive parents’ names on.

FAQ: Is it a legal requirement to change the name and/or surname after the adoption is approved?

Section 245 of the Children’s Act stipulates that: (1) After and adoption order has been made by  a children’s court in respect of a child whose birth has been registered in the Republic, the adoptive parent of the  child must apply, in terms of the applicable law to the  Director General: Home Affairs to record the adoption and any change of surname of the child in the  births register.

The word “any” suggests that changing the surname is optional.  This something that the adoption social worker recommends in the section 231 report (if so requested by the parents) and then become part of the court order – if you look on you court order you will probably see it indicated close to the bottom of the form.

FAQ: Can I travel abroad with my foster child?

Compiled by Andrea Harper


Yes, it is possible, but quite an administrative nightmare.  The documents you need, in order of getting them, are:

1.       Unabridged birth certificate

2.       Passport (including a section 169 report giving permission to apply for a passport)

3.       Tickets, medical insurance, bookings for accommodation etc, you need to pay for everything before you apply for permission to take the child

4.       Section 169 report – permission to remove a child from the Republic

5.       (if relevant) visa from the country you are visiting


The unabridged birth certificate – if you don’t have one already – must be applied for by the social worker.

To apply for the passport you need a section 169 report – permission to apply for a passport – prepared by the social worker and signed off at DSD. This report must state whether the birth parents have given permission, but they can give permission verbally to the social worker rather than in writing. If the parent(s) can’t be found then their permission is dispensed with. I have been told that even if they do not give permission that can be over-ridden on the social worker’s recommendation if they are withholding consent unreasonably and it is in the best interests of the child to get a passport.

You then submit this report to Home Affairs with the other usual documents needed to apply. When we applied (2016) Home Affairs were willing to accept an abridged birth certificate along with the receipt from Home Affairs showing an unabridged had been applied for (so they could both be processed at the same time), but DSD refused permission to apply for a passport until the UBC had been received.

Once you have the passport you can book the trip, and you will need tickets, medical insurance for the child, bookings for any accommodation needed, and an itinerary. (if relevant – we stayed with my mother so I just gave her contact details).

Once you have evidence of all the details, you give them to the social worker and they will compile another section 169 report giving permission to take the child on this specific trip. This needs to be signed off by DSD.

Future trips will obviously skip the first two steps as you will already have the UBC and passport, but you will need to submit all travel details and evidence and get a new section 169 – permission to remove the child from the Republic – for each trip.

Timescales will vary depending on how efficient your social worker is, the processing times at Home Affairs, and the processing time at DSD. In our case it took 18 months, but that was mostly delays with the social worker, who took 8 months (!) to get round to applying for the UBC.

 Once applied for the UBC took about 6 weeks, from what I remember. The section 169 reports were 2-3 weeks once submitted to DSD, our current social worker (who is great J ) took a couple of weeks to write up the reports; this included trying to make contact with a birth parent, but as the social worker knew we would be applying I think she started trying to contact before I actually submitted the information. The passport was processed in about a month. Visas for the UK took about a week each time (2016 and now again in 2017).