A child is considered available for adoption if they are an orphan and have no guardian or caregiver willing to take care of them, if the whereabouts of their parent or guardian cannot be established, if they have been abandoned, if they have been deliberately abused or neglected or if they are in need of a permanent alternative placement. A child can be adopted by a couple or by a person on their own as long as they are deemed to be fit and proper parents, will respect the rights of the child, and will take care of the child in totality (physical, financial, emotional, moral etc) until they turn 18 years of age. The assessment for both the child and parents must be conducted by an accredited adoption social worker and in line with your country's legal system (South Africa Act 38 of 2005 Chapter 15).
An adoption may only be rescinded (cancelled) if it is in the best interests of the child, the biological mother's consent was required but not obtained for the adoption, or the adoptive parent did not qualify to adopt the child in terms of the act that governs the adoption process. This may only be applied for in a High Court and must be lodged within a reasonable time e.g. in South Africa, this time cannot exceed two years from the date of the adoption (for more detailed information, please refer to your country's specific act that guides your adoption process).
On the Courage Map you will see that there are two parallel processes for the adoptive family and for the adoptive child. The adoptive family need to contact an accredited adoption social worker and complete a formal request to adopt. They will then be subjected to a number of assessments to ensure that they fit the requirements of an adoptive parent, this includes medical, psychological, relationship, financial and home assessments, as well as a police clearance. During this 'screening' , the parents will also be counselled about the process of adoption to ensure that they are prepared for this life changing decision. Once they have been assessed and deemed fit and proper adoptive parents, they will make a formal application to adopt, and be placed on your country's registry of adoptable children and parents.
For the child, they will need to be assessed for adaptability by an accredited adoption social worker, or legally pronounced abandoned. If the adoption relates to a mother experiencing a crisis pregnancy, who wishes to place her child up for adoption, the mother should be counselled extensively to ensure that she is understands the permanency of the arrangement and what consent will mean. She will then have to formally rescind her parental rights in a court and consent to the adoption of her child, counselling should continue throughout. Once the child is deemed adoptable, they are also placed on your country's register of adoptable children and parents.
The adoptable child is then matched with the ideal parents for them either in their own country, or if no suitable match if found nationally, the social worker may consider international adoption. All international adoptions are overseen by inter-country agreements as set out by the Hague Convention on International Adoption. Once the child has been appropriately matched with parents, the state or governing body needs to authorise the adoption, and the child is then placed in the care of their adoptive parents. There is usually a post placement assessment before the adoption is finalised in court. The adoption should then be registered by the relevant authority and the child's identity documentation amended to reflect their new adoptive family status. If the child was adopted by international parents, it is only at this point that they can return to their home country.
Adoption is a wonderful way of creating new permanent families, but it is not all smooth sailing, so it is recommended that adoptive parents seek post adoption support through social workers, counselors and other adoptive parents.
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