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Considering adoption? Here’s what you need to know


Growing your family through adoption is a bold step towards giving another child a loving, comfortable home. The legal age for being able to adopt in South Africa is 18, and it is a process conducted with caution, care and safety. Once the adoption is finalised, and acknowledged, you are regarded as the biological parents of the child.

Who can adopt a child?

Any persons over the age of 18 years can adopt a child. The rights of adoption cannot be prevented by the applicant’s financial status. Whether you are single, a widower, married or in a permanent family unit, you can apply. Being denied adoption based on your sexual orientation, race, religion and gender is unconstitutional, and these discriminatory practices are illegal.

Adoption procedure

  1. An application for the adoption of a child can be made in the Children’s Court and must be accompanied by the social worker’s report, a letter of child adoption recommendation by the provincial head of Social Development, as well as the necessary consent forms.
  2. The orientation and screening procedures follow, and include the explanation of the adoption process, interviews, various medical and psychological assessments, home visits and criminal clearances.
  3. When selected from a waiting list, the prospective adoptive parent is introduced to the child, and the social worker briefs you about the child’s profile.
  4. As the adoptive parent, you sign papers to effect the child’s change of name, and an adoption order is granted by the Children’s Court. The granted order is submitted to the National Adoption register, and the child becomes the legal child of the adoptive parent, attaining all rights as a biological child.
  5. The final step is accumulating a new birth certificate at Home Affairs indicating the surname change.

Points to remember

  • An adoption will not affect the adoptive child’s rights to property s/he obtained before the adoption.
  • Written and signed consent from the biological parent/s and other parties involved can be withdrawn up to 60 days after giving legal consent, and must be verified by the Children’s Court.
  • It is recommended that children are only placed after this period has lapsed.
  • If the child is older than 10 years of age, s/he must also give consent.


  • (2017). Adoption. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Jun. 2017].
  • The Children’s Act Explained. (2017). [ebook] p.3. Available at: [Accessed 12 Jun. 2017].

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. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

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