A lot of people never consider adoption as an option for family creation because it is an arduous and at times painful process. Simply making the decision to adopt can take years. The process itself is hard. It’s emotionally taxing. Your entire life and relationship put under a microscope and examined, sifted through with a fine toothed comb. Every flaw, every less than perfect aspect of you put on display.
Waiting for placement is not easy either. The months and often years of waiting, of living in limbo, of anticipation, of thinking maybe this year will be the year, maybe this month we’ll get the call. It’s hard. But it’s not the hardest part of adoption either.
Then… finally, you get the call and you think it’s all over.
But really, for us and I know I speak for a lot of other adoptive parents, the true frustration begins because once you’ve received your final adoption order, the truly hard part of your adoption journey begins…
What am I talking about?
I’m talking about the lack of service, lack of competence, lack of knowledge…. just lack of… when it comes to dealing with the Department Of Home Affairs! The “we care”… on their website header? Don’t be fooled, they don’t give a single shit. Not one! Zero f*cks given.
On Friday, almost a year since we applied for Hannah’s final adoption order to be registered with them and her birth name and ID number to be changed, we got the news that they have finally registered her adoption, this means that her ID number has now been removed. But STILL we have no birth certificate. I’m not even sure what that means really? My child has no identity according to the South African government?
You can’t even believe some of the stuff we’ve been through in the last year to get this issue resolved, I have begun to feel like Home Affairs is the place where hope goes to die. We have been herded backwards and forwards countless times, where we stand, with hundreds of other desperate parents, LOCKED out of the office and treated like a bunch of animals while we try to get assistance…. assistance which is painfully slow. It has reached the point now that each time we are sent back to Randburg, the hell of all Home Affairs hell, I become so overcome with desperation and defeat that I stand their amongst the mass of human desperation while our civil SERVANTS treat us like they’re doing us a favour, that I can no longer go there without standing in that mass of misery and just crying from hopelessness. My child has no name, no ID number.
We initially applied and filed for Hannah’s adoption registration and name change at the beginning of March last year. It took the complete incompetence of Randurg Home Affairs FOUR months to send the documentation to their H/O in Pretoria. Four months where our paperwork just lay around gathering dust with nothing being done.
They optimistically or stupidly told us it would take between 3 & 6 months. Ha! What a joke. After 4 months they hadn’t even bothered to send in the paperwork.
After hounding and hassling everyone we possibly could, our paperwork was delivered to Pretoria, we then asked if we could have our case escalated and were told they will only escalate our case once it’s been outstanding for 6 months. We duly waited the required 6 months and on calling back to request an escalation, we were told, by a RUDE, UNHELPFUL civil SERVANT that they don’t work weekends and public holidays, so we need to work out what 6 months would be excluding weekends and public holidays…. Have you EVER? Clearly someone missed the lessons on how time lines work when they were at school!
We called every week, sometimes twice a week. We have tweeted the minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba begging for his assistance. Our case was eventually escalated and is now being overseen by Sakia, but honestly, I’m not sure if he can even help us because all he can do is say sorry and make excuses for their lack of knowledge, understanding or competence.
In December, 10 months after our initial application, thousands of phone calls and return visits to Home Affairs Randburg, they woke up and realized their was a form missing and Sakia assured us that if we went back to Randburg Home Affairs and got that form completed and stamped and emailed to him, we would have Hannah’s birth certificate within 30 minutes.
Again, we raced to the place were hope goes to die, stood outside in the boiling sun, locked out and being herded around by unfeeling and uncaring home affairs officials but eventually we got the form and got it completed and stamped and the manager at Home Affairs Randburg kindly took us into his office and emailed the forms off to Sakia. We were so hopeful!
This was finally it.
Nothing happened. The 30 minutes came and went and the days passed and NOTHING happened.
30 days after that return visit and empty promises, Modise Mokone, who it seems just gives shit service to all adoptive parents, the person responsible for finalizing everything had STILL not done anything with the emailed documentation that we were promised would get us a birth certificate with 30 minutes in December of 2015. That was on the 18th January.
We continued to call, to cry, to beg and plead with Sakia any ANY home affairs official to assist us. But nothing happened. Then on Friday, 29th January, Sakia called with the amazing news that it was all done and Walter could go to Home Affairs to collect Hannah’s birth certificate.
But once bitten, twice shy, so we decided to call ahead before simply arriving in the place where hope goes to die and why we were even surprised by what we were told is beyond me.
They can see on their system that something has been done. Hannah no longer has an ID number, it’s in the process of being transferred. But who knows how may more days, weeks, months, years, tears before that actually gets done.
I am at my wits end. Hannah will be 3 on the 22nd February and she is still without a birth certificate of an ID number. Do you know how difficult it is to do ANYTHING without a birth certificate or ID number?