– HJD Robertson

“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove… but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” – Forest E. Witcraft 

Adoption might seem like a difficult process as not everyone knows what exactly to expect and what it entails. This article explains the adoption process in five essential steps.

Firstly, the potential parents have to choose a social worker or adoption agency, who will facilitate the adoption on their behalf and who will guide them through the process. This is a very important step as the adoptive family needs to get along with and trust the person who will be assisting them in selecting a child. It is therefore advisable to contact the National Adoption Coalition for a list of reputable social workers and agencies.1

The screening process will be the second step. This starts with an interview with the social worker. He or she will then provide the potential parents with a list of documents they need to obtain for example police clearance certificates, physiological assessments, a clearance certificate for the National Child Protection Register and Register of Sexual Offenders etcetera. This might sound quite daunting, but it is not time consuming and it has minimal financial inputs.

Once all the documents have been handed to the social worker he / she will enlist the potential parents on the National Adoption Database and start searching for a child.

The next step is simply waiting for the child. Unfortunately this step can take time and patience, but it will be worth it in the end.

The penultimate step in the adoption process is meeting with the child for the first time. The social worker will inform the potential parents as soon as a child becomes available for adoption. He or she will schedule a meeting with the potential parents with the purpose of discussing the child’s history and profile.

Should the potential parents wish to proceed with the adoption, the potential parents will meet the child. The first meeting will take place in a so-called place of safety. During this initial visit the potential parents will be allowed to interact with the child by bathing, feeding and playing with him or her. After the initial meeting the potential parents get to take the bundle of joy home, to be in their temporary care.

The final step is complying with the legalities. It is strongly advisable to obtain the services of an attorney specializing in family law, as an application for adoption at the Children’s Court will be the next step in the process. The attorney will commence the formal adoption process by obtaining a hearing date, drafting all the required documents and representing the potential parents in the motion process. If the Court is satisfied with the application, an adoption order will be granted. The adopted child is now considered to be the adoptive parent’s biological child, with all the rights and privileges associated herewith.

It is difficult to give an exact time frame of the entire process, but on average a period of two years is to be expected.


This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.