Adopting a child | Western Cape Government

Adopting a child


The decision to adopt is life changing for both the respective parents and the child. Whether you're battling with infertility or simply have a desire to expand your family, adoption might be the right decision for you. Mommy and baby laughing together

Adoption is one of the ways to help give abandoned babies a permanent or stable family life they would otherwise not have had. There are many reasons why parents abandon their children, such as: 

  • lack of support from family,
  • poverty and unemployment,
  • history of sexual abuse or assault,
  • unplanned/unwanted pregnancies,
  • substance abuse, and
  • rape.



Not all children eligible for adoption are necessarily abandoned. There are different circumstances and situations that determine the types of adoptions made possible.

What types of adoption are available? 

  1. Non-disclosed adoption – prospective adoptive parents and adoptive children are not related and no identifying details are disclosed to any party.
  2. Disclosed adoption – identifying details are disclosed.
  3. Family adoption – the child is legally adopted by the spouse of the biological parent or a family member.
  4. Foster care adoption – when a child in foster care becomes available for adoption the foster parent is given first preference to adopt the child.


​Who can adopt a baby?Happy family playing with their children

1. Jointly by:

  • Husband and wife,
  • partners in a permanent domestic life partnership, and
  • other persons sharing a common household and forming a permanent family unit.

2. A widower, widow, divorced or unmarried person.

3. A married person whose spouse is the parent of the child (step-parent) or by a person whose permanent domestic life-partner is the parent of the child. 

4. By the biological father of a child born out of wedlock. This clause is applied as per Section 21 of the Children’s Act 38/2005 when the parental rights of the father is not afforded to him by default.

5. By a foster parent of the child.​

Legal considerations

In terms of section 242 of the Children’s Act, all parental rights and responsibilities of the natural family are terminated automatically as soon as the adoption order is granted.

Consent is not required or necessary if the consent was taken away by a court from the parent or guardian who:

  • Is incompetent to give consent due to mental illness.
  • Had abandoned the child, or if the whereabouts of that parent or guardian cannot be established, or if the identity of that parent or guardian is unknown.
  • Has abused or deliberately neglected the child or has allowed the child to be abused or deliberately neglected.
  • Has consistently failed to fulfil his or her parental responsibilities towards the child during the last 12 months.
  • Has been divested by an order of court of the right to consent to the adoption of the child.
  • Has failed to respond to a notice of the proposed adoption (referred to in Section 238 of the Children's Act 38/2005) within the 30 days of service of notice.

Alternatively, in the best interest of the child, the court must waive the parent’s right to consent to adoption. 

Biological parents can withdraw their consent within 60 days of signing their consent.

If the child is 10 years or older, the child must also consent to the adoption.

If the child is in foster care, the foster parents may apply to adopt the foster child/children in their care. They can also certify that they do not wish to adopt the child. This is however a limited courtesy gesture and foster parents can't indefinitely prevent the adoption of a foster child should such adoption be in the child’s best interests.

Help is available Young mother kissing her newborn baby

If you need advice on the choices available to pregnant mothers, contact your nearest Department of Social Development office.

Adoption services are rendered by individuals that are registered as specialists by SACSSP to render this service as well as organizations that are accredited by the National DSD.

For more information, you can contact the Department of Social Development, Directorate Children and Families:

Ancilla Adonis
Tel: 021 483 4631

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Government Body: (Western Cape Government)
The content on this page was last updated on 7 August 2023