Adopting a Child


Adoption is a legal way for an adult single person or couple - being unable to give birth to a child or wishing to bring another child into the family, for example - to become the legal parents of a child. When you adopt a child, the child becomes yours as though born of you.



It is illegal to attempt to become a child's "permanent" parent in any other way than through the adoption process. Becoming a child's foster parent involves another process, which is discussed here.

Adoption can only take place legally when:

  • Adoption is in the best interest of the child
  • If the child is adoptable
  • Child has been abandoned
  • Child is an orphan, has no guardian/care giver
  • Whereabouts of the child's parents or guardian cannot be established
  • Child's parents or guardian has abused or deliberately neglected the child
  • Child is in need of a permanent alternative placement.

Open adoptions are adoptions where the identities of the various parties are known to each other, for example, where other family members of a child adopt the child.

With closed adoptions, identities of the parties are not known from the start of the process. Open and closed adoptions are usually done through accredited and designated child protection organisations or private practitioners. The social worker involved in this process may advise the parties to consider sharing their identities with each other in the best interests of the child, for example, to ensure that they retain contact with their culture and roots.

  • A husband and wife can jointly adopt a child.
  • Partners in a permanent life-partnership (including same-sex partners) can jointly adopt a child.
  • By a married person whose spouse is the parent of the child, or by a person whose permanent domestic life partner is the parent of the child.
  • A widow or widower or an unmarried or divorced person
  • Other persons sharing a common household and forming a permanent family unit
  • By a biological father of a child who does not have guardianship in respect of the child in terms (Chapter 3 of the Children's Act 38/2005) or the foster parent of a child has the right to be considered as a prospective adoptive parent when the child becomes available of adoption.


In the past, adoption by a non-citizen of a child born of a South African citizen in South Africa was possible only if the non-citizen qualified for naturalisation as a South African citizen. South African courts also had no legal power to undertake adoption procedures in respect of non-South African children by South Africans.

South Africa has now signed an international convention on inter-country adoptions. The Children's Act 2005/38 sets out the procedure for inter-country adoptions.

To legalise any inter-country adoptions it is important that social workers liaise directly with the Registrar of Adoptions in Pretoria via the Departmental Provincial Head Office with the Affiliated Bureau for International Social Services (ISS) in South Africa.

Registrar of Adoptions, Department of Social Development (National)
Dr Tebogo Mabe/ Ms Kinsey Rasibitse
Tel: 012 312 7396
Fax: 012 323 3733
E-mail: /

Affiliated Bureau for International Social Services
Mrs Francis Viviers / Mrs Carol Churchill
Tel: 012 312 7790




Adoption proceedings are handled by social workers at accredited and designated child protection organisations and accredited private adoption social workers.

The accredited and designated Child Protection Organisations that provide adoptions services are, ACVV, Badisa, Cape Town Child Welfare, Child Welfare South Africa, AFM Abba Adoptions and then Department of Social Development. Please be aware that some of the above organisations may charge a fee relating to adoption.



ACVV (Afrikaanse Christelike Vroue Vereniging)
61 Caledon Street, Zonnebloem, Cape Town, 8001
Tel: 021 461 7437
Fax: 021 461 0074

BADISA (The former Diakonale Dienste amalgamated with the former Christelike Maatskaplike Raad (CMR))
11 Pastorie Street, or Private Bag X8, Bellville, 7535
Tel: 021 957 7130
Fax: 021 957 7131

Cape Town Child Welfare
(formerly at 13 Electric Road, Wynberg, 7800)
Lower Klipfontein Road, Gatesville, Athlone, 7764
Tel: 021 638 3127
Fax: 021 638 5277

Child Welfare South Africa
16 Tygerberg Centre, Voortrekker Road, Bellville, 7530
Tel: 021 945 3111
Fax: 021 945 3121
E-mail: /

AFM Abba Adoptions
3 Hoheizen Park, Hoheizen Cresent, Hoheizen, Bellville
P.O. Box 763, Kuils River, 7579
Tel: 021 913 8224
Fax: 021 913 5664



CAFDA (Cape Flats Development Association)
Corner Retreat Road and Prince George Drive, Retreat, 7941
P.O. Box 211, Retreat, 7965
Tel: 021 706 2050
Fax: 021 706 0756

Jewish Community Services
9 Gorge Road, Highlands, 8001
Tel: 021 462 5520
Fax: 021 462 5866

Provided by:
Government Body: (Western Cape Government)
The content on this page was last updated on 29 December 2014