Exploring the adoption option

Cape Town Adoption Support Adoption Option August

Have you ever considered adopting but didn’t know where to start or wondered if this was the right choice for you and your family?

The Adoption Option workshop will give you an overview of the adoption journey.  It is run by Clinical Psychologists Jean Luyt and Emilita Pecego who have a special interest in adoption and working with multi-racial and diverse families.  We will guide you through the steps, outline the kinds of obstacles you might encounter in the process and address any concerns you may have. You will also have an opportunity to meet people who share your dream of growing a family through adoption.  By the end of the workshop you will be in a position to decide what the next step might be in your own adoption journey.

Cost is R250.  Confirm your booking by making payment to FNB Cheque Account, Universal branch (250 655) Account number: 6233 250 6958.  Send proof of payment to ct.adoption.support@gmail.com.  Payments will be accepted on the day only if spaces are still available.

Limited spaces available so please RSVP by 20 August.

 

 

Form 30: waiting, waiting, waiting and waiting ….

2015-02-06 Child Protection Register 1For some potential adopters waiting for a response to your Form 30 application is like being stuck in purgatory. Form 30 is the application you make to the Department of Social Development to confirm that you are not a child abuser.  In other words, it confirms that your name does not appear on the National Child Protection register.

According to Section 123 (c) OF THE Children’s Act 38 of 2005, no person whose name appears on the National Child Protection Register may be permitted to become the foster parent or adoptive parent of a child.

In order to get this important piece of documentation you need to complete a Form 30, which you will get from your accredited adoption social worker and then post it to “The Director General; Department of Social Development Private Bag X901 Pretoria, 0001”. And then you must hope that you are one of the lucky ones who receives their notification back within 48 hours (it has happened).  For most, though, the wait is excruciatingly long – and can take months and months. It’s not easy but try to be patient.

It is important to discuss with your adoption social worker what you need to do once you have submitted the Form 30. Some agencies will proceed with your application while you are waiting for the notification from the Department of Social Development, and they often require you to furnish them with proof that you have posted the Form 30. So it is best to send the Form 30 by registered mail or courier and keep a copy of the slip you receive from the Post Office or courier company to send to your adoption social worker.  It’s always best to keep a copy of this proof in case it gets lost on the way to the social worker or in the file.

2015-02-06 Child Protection RegisterThere are those who believe that writing  “For adoption purposes” on the outside of the envelope may make the clerks more likely to deal with your request as a matter of priority, but there is no evidence that this is true and the staff have indicated that they do not differentiate between applications for adoption purposes and other purposes.  But it can’t hurt to try.

There are a few helpful people in the department who might be willing to follow up on these forms if you require them urgently, but different people report differing levels of success in contacting them directly.  It may not help but, again, it can’t hurt to try.

These people who seem to be able to help are:

  • Carol who can be contacted on 012 312 7591 or CarolC@dsd.gov.za
  • Kayalani on 012 312 7255
  • Call Walter on 012 312 7610 and ask him for help because it’s for an adoption. He’s the guy who actually captures the applications in the system.  Mail him the request and certified copy of the ID to walterm@dsd.gov.za.
  • Once he’s done then it moves to Robin or Moses ( 012 312 7576 and 27 12 312 7245) to finalise.  Best to mail them on robinm@dsd.gov.za or mosesm@dsd.gov.za .

Sharing our stories

I’m a clinical psychologist and adoptive mother who is passionate about adoption and creating happy and healthy families. 

Support is essential in the life-long adoption journey.  As with all families, challenges surface for each adoptive family at different stages.  Bringing an adoptive baby home presents a range of demands. So does supporting an adoptive child going to a play group for the first time.  And then comes adolescence – and a search for identity. Parents require different skills to help their children negotiate all these life stages  For this reason support needs to be ongoing, and not stop once a child has been placed in the care of the adoptive parents. 

Although each family is unique, there are some common challenges that all families encounter and then some specific hurdles that all adoptive families face.  The adoption community can be strengthened by sharing these experiences with each other and also sharing the lessons we have learnt along the way. 

We are also strengthened by sharing our triumphs and our numerous success stories.  Too often ignorance breeds unsubstantiated negative assumptions.  We encounter these hurtful opinions when people question our motives for wanting to adopt, underestimate the strength of the love we have for our children and undervalue the relationship. Questions like: “where is your real mother?” and “do you think you love her as much as you would if she were your real child?” and comments like “he’s not really your child” are realities for adoptive parents and children.

We spend a lot of energy shielding our children from these negative attitudes.  Our children do not deserve to have their family structure and identity questioned – and especially not in public.  We have different ways of dealing with other people’s attitudes. Sometimes we take on these negative attitudes, sometimes we don’t. 

One way to create a healthy and accurate understanding of adoptive families is to share positive stories about adoption and the various ways in which families can be constructed.

Please email me on ct.adoption.support@gmail.com if you want to share your adoption story with us.

Don’t tell me it’s worth it – by Bev Veltman

Bev 2015 2When I complain about my whoas of the adoption sagas and all the schlep that comes with it, the usual responses I get are “But it was worth it hey?”…Listen…Of course it was worth it…as were your labour pains you had with your biological children…but was it necessary? You could have had an epidural to save your pain,  just the same as our system doesn’t have to be such a laborious painful process.

This time I refer to the birth certificate saga. So the court and all its minions (social workers, police clearance clerks, etc. etc.) have deemed us fit enough to be parents and the judge has ruled that we are now officially Christopher’s parents. Hip Hip hooray. What a happy day. No one can take Christopher away from us now.

bev 2015 3Now I can claim my UIF. Because after all a COURT OF LAW has ORDERED that Christopher is indeed my son. I can now get the birth certificate, I can get his passport, and we can go on a happy holiday…in fact now we are allowed to fly somewhere as simple as Durban (Yip, you need the birth certificate for that) – never mind that I can drive around the country with this child wherever I want, but dare I try and fly….(but that is me getting off the point)…

So that should be that…it can’t go much higher than that now can it?

Well, in adoption terms that is not how it works.(I should be used to this by now)

You see, perhaps because I am accustomed to biological children, where you basically get your birth certificate in a day or two…I was blown away when told that I couldn’t “just get” a birth certificate.

The birth certificate seems to be stage 451 in the adoption saga…and it apparently takes around 6 months to get one. (Apparently –  if you’re lucky)

bev 2015 4To even try and get someone to explain to you what forms to fill in and HOW to fill them in is another story, as there are apparently two sets of parents, two sets of names and both forms need to be filled in properly yet correspond with each other, but no one can explain to you how to fill it in. And dare try and ask and you are looked upon as someone who is wasting their precious time…I felt as if I should have known what to do because I had adopted this baby, so I should have known the rules….

In a country like ours where abandonment of babies and orphaned kids is such a problem, would it be so difficult to arrange a special counter at home affairs for adoptions? There is a special department at the courts fortunately, but it unfortunately completely under staffed.

Then we get on to the UIF stage 422 of adoptions, where too they should have a special division just dealing with adoptions and UIF. Not one person is able to tell me what is needed, what is allowed and how to claim when it comes to adoptions; it all seems to be a guessing game. In fact, when you mention adoption UIF claims, there are blank stares and dead silences’s all around.

Every time I thought I had submitted everything I needed to submit, another hurdle was thrown at me.

The last I heard from UIF they needed the adoption order. That is why I was so relieved when I finally received it. I quickly submitted it thinking the long wait was over for my UIF.

Submitted and waited…and then the email came through…they needed the birth certificate…and that is how stage 451 became a saga.

Bev 2015So don’t tell me it’s all worth it. I know it is. It’s stupid of anyone to say that. But it is frustrating and unnecessary and I wish there was something I could proactively do to change this system.

My view on baby homes, places of safety and social workers will be left for another day. Again – worth it…not always necessary…

But for now I will say that I feel it is money making racket, a disorganised system and quite frankly a child’s rights issue.

Lucky for me though, I have my boy, and it hasn’t taken years, I had a fabulous social worker who wasn’t expensive…but I have seen the other side and I can’t forget.

Of course it was worth it, but you don’t need to tell me that.

Cape Town Adoption Support (CTAS) Movie Club 2015

I am proposing a different format for the movie club for next year, one that is more in line with book clubs.

It would work as follows:

A group (8 and 10 people) meet regularly (one a month) on the first Tuesday evening of the month at 8 pm to watch an adoption themed movie.

We take turns to host these events at our homes and supply a small amount of snacks to group members. We will take turn to host the evening based on an alphabetical roster based on first names.

Each month we each contribute R50 to the group and the person who will host the following month takes the money to purchase an adoption-themed movie for the following month.

If the movie that is purchased for view one month is less expensive than the money contributed this “change” will be added to the “kitty” so that more expensive movies can also be bought if we have enough money.

At the end of the evening the movie is donated to the Cape Town Adoption Support (CTAS) so that we can build a collection of adoption themed movies for any interested people to borrow.  I will manage this library , bringing the set of DVD to each month’s viewing and keep track of who borrows movies and ensure they return them.

New members can be invited to join by existing members. If a new member joins they will just be slotted into the alphabetical list and will be entitled to buy a movie of their choice as soon as their name comes up to host.

It would be great if the person who chose the movie and hosts could also write a short review of the movie for the Cape Town Adoption Support (CTAS) blog so that others who are interested in movies can choose to watch it or not. This would not have to be more than a few lines.

Anyone unable to attend any month will have to give an apology to the person hosting or to me on Ct.adoption.support@gmail.com.

Please let me know if you are interested in joining this movie club. Depending on how many replies we get we might choose to split the group into regions for convenience, so please indicate the area that you live in as well.

Jean Luyt

Ct.adoption.support@gmail.com

How I KNEW I loved – by Bev Veltman

When I decided to adopt one of my biggest fears was “What if I don’t love the child?”

As shallow and selfish this may sound this is really how I felt. As much as I have a passion for children I also know that there are some kids I have just never connected with. I love my nieces and nephews, I assumed because they are bio too. Perhaps I should say, there I some kids I FEEL less affection for than others.

Of course this didn’t apply to my bio kids, and I assumed that it was a genetic thing. My daughters came from me and looked like me so therefore love was the default and natural emotion. The love I have for them is so vast, but honestly I thought it was a genetic thing.

Now, I know I am disregarding the true love that adoptive parents had for their kids. Did I think they were lying to themselves and me? Well that’s the thing… Not at all… I just thought it takes a very special person (whom I am not. I am just a regular person) to be an adoptive parent and love the child.

True to my style I then researched “love” and it’s meaning, what it means to love etc etc.

I think I convinced myself we would be on a “learn to love” basis.. Ok that I could do.. I would learn to love my adopted child. Yes, that sounded ok to me… Because a lot of people don’t bond with their own bio new born babies immediately … So perhaps that is how it is with adopted kids. Yes, I admit I never had a bonding problem with my girls, but they were bio… So perhaps I could be like the moms who ease into the love and can’t bond instantly.

Ok that helped me to accept that I would love my adopted child. “Slowly but surely I would learn to love”

Christopher

Christopher

Christopher 3 weeks old The first time I met Christopher he was 3 weeks old. I didn’t know about him before then.

We were at our alternative parenting course and the conversation went like this:

Social worker: “I want you to know that I  will only give you a baby when everything is 100% finalized with the bio mom, ok?”

Me: #quiet

Me: ” You have never been quite so specific with me, I sense something is up, is there a baby now?”

Husband (who was with me says to social worker): “You know you can’t say things like that to Bev and not explain… She won’t sleep for a week trying to figure it out” #Truestory

Social worker”  “Ok,  yes, there is a baby but mom hasn’t signed off properly yet.”

Me: “Is the baby here?”

Social worker: “Uhmmm.. Yes”

Me: “In the baby house?”

Social worker” “Bev nothing is finalised”

(Listen,.. MY child is in the baby house a few meters away from me… WHAT?)

(And to save me heartache I must stay away in case mom changes her mind and I get hurt. NO no.)

Bev 1Me to the social  worker: “I will wait until we are finished the workshop for the day but I am going to see him this evening. I understand that it isn’t finalised but I need to see him”

After the workshop had finished  I walked mindfully and somewhat calmly into the baby house.

I knew I had to be careful. I was not naive to that. These are real raw feelings we are dealing with. And I know I had my husband and daughter to consider.

I wasn’t allowed to spend a long time with him. (The social worker was keeping a strict eye on me, for my own benefit)

Christopher had the biggest sparkly eyes – so alert. But he was TINY, so so thin… Painfully thin actually… But his eyes, there was something about his eyes.

I held him for a long time looking into his eyes..

Look, it isn’t that romantic, because while looking into his eyes I had the other crawling babies pulling our pants screaming for attention too…luckily Tim took time with the toddlers … But we couldn’t stay very long, and we had to go and fetch our daughter as it was getting late.

I went home… Spoke to no one about him but I couldn’t get his eyes out of mind. I knew that I had to control my emotions because the paperwork had not been finalised, and something could easily change.

Anyway, I thought to myself, I might also be “forcing this love ” and his eyes probably looked so big and piercing because he was so thin and that is why I kept thinking about them.

And. As it does with adoption … The wait (and weight) continues ..

I did call the social worker a lot asking if they had heard from Christopher’s biological mom yet. I wanted find out if there was any news and if baby was OK. But I didn’t go back to visit. I couldn’t do that to myself and my family. It’s too traumatic for all of us if it doesn’t work out.

But I did keep phoning 😉

The one day I decided not to phone is the day I got the call.

bev 3At first I couldn’t register who was on the phone (bearing in mind it has always been me phoning), so to receive a call was very different.

Low and behold my social worker told me that my son was ready She said he had been very sick (luckily I didn’t know this) and that she thinks he needs to get out of the home ASAP because she thinks he is in distress.

I visited him for the next two days (I got the call on a Wednesday), and on the Friday we fetched him – granny, cousins, aunty, sister and daddy in tow.

Did the effect of his eyes stay that potent – YES, his eyes told me he was part of my soul.

The fear of loving him…what happened??  I loved him instantly. I honestly did. This is not me trying to love him, I really felt that close affinity for him. I was relieved, I really was.

But as it happens with me I started worrying that perhaps I wouldn’t love him one day when he wasn’t cute. Maybe I was fooling myself – because I FELT like I loved him, but we have all thought we have loved before and actually it wasn’t love…and so my mind rationalises and tries to figure out all types of scenarios.

But life and caring for babies carries on. We dote on this little boy all day every day. The dogs are so jealous (and tiring) and the love question comes up now and again, but too busy “loving him” to really think about it much.

But yesterday something BIG happened, something so profound. I realised for the first time without doubt that I DO LOVE HIM.

Carmen’s (my daughter) friend was visiting and her friends’ mom came to fetch her. Carmen and friend were out in the park so the friends’ mom came inside and asked about Christopher while fetching her daughters’ bags.

We went to fetch Christopher and she was holding him and playing with him, while we were waiting for the girls to come back.

I have to mention the friends’ mom is perfectly groomed, one of the most beautiful ladies I have ever seen. I was suffering with a migraine – baby milk all over me, hair all over the place, so I suppose that in it-self would have made me feel a bit insecure. However that wasn’t the problem, the problem was the way Christopher was staring at this woman. He was staring at her in absolute awe and love. He was smiling and gurgling. At first I thought it was sweet, but I had a funny feeling in my tummy…I looked at the friends’ mom and saw how beautiful she was. She is also black and all at once I started thinking Christopher would prefer a black mom, he is looking at her with so much love. My anxiety levels heightened. I am thinking, “What have I done?”, “Have I deprived this child of a black mom?”

All I wanted was to get Christopher back and this mom to leave. I thought it might be because she was so pretty, or because she was black. Ok, perhaps she smelt nice. All these things were going through my mind but mostly it was “What if I have done Christopher a disservice by giving him a white mom?”

bev 4So the friend and mom left and I had to get supper going. I mention to Tim (my husband) that the mom is very pretty. I then fold and say “You should have seen how Christopher was looking at her, do you think it is because she is black?”

Tim gave me a funny look and I carried on with dinner.

Lying in bed, putting Christopher to sleep, I thought to myself,” When have I felt like this before?”

In my calmer state I realised that Christopher doesn’t know his colour yet, he has no idea that he is different to me, it cannot be that but “When have I felt like this before?”

AND ..THEN…BAM… it hit me like a wave…When a boyfriend/husband has looked at someone else in that “way” I felt like I am feeling now. And then I realised what I am feeling is jealousy.  I am JEALOUS. I was feeling so jealous.

And when I feel jealous it is because I LOVE.

And right there I KNEW (officially). I love Christopher. It has nothing to do with colour or prettiness or the smell of perfume. In actual fact, the fact that he is so loved would default in him loving everyone.

Every day is a HAPPY day for Christopher.

And when I think back, Christopher actually looks at me like that too…I was too busy loving him to notice that he loves me too. And we love each other. As a mom and son should.

bev veltman 5