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The hardest part about adoption… it’s not what you think

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! Department of Home Affairs logoThe “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.

And then…..

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?




    • Jenny

      February 1, 2016 at 9:23 am

      You have to start wondering if the people on the ground are deliberately sabotaging adoption processes because of some misguided cultural beliefs? Crazy stuff and I don’t blame you for losing your shit and your hope.

      • Sharon

        February 1, 2016 at 9:56 am

        I shared this link in the Adoption groups on Face Book, Modise Mokone is INFAMOUS for making the lives of adoptive parents HELL! There are even hellopeter complaints about him.

    • Jenny

      February 1, 2016 at 10:10 am

      Perhaps you really should all gang together and hire a lawyer to take up your collective case? It would certainly make headlines and maybe get Home Affairs to start taking adoption seriously.

    • lindasjournal

      February 1, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      This story is beyond shocking and makes me spitting mad that “normal”, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens can get treated this way and NO-ONE takes responsibility for which should be standard business.
      I am so sorry you have had to go through this. I can only imagine how irritated you must be! Maybe take this to the radio (702) or the press to get some public pressure put on them……

        • Heather

          February 1, 2016 at 7:55 pm

          I’ve been to that Randburg home affairs and I have to agree with you about that place. It took me a year to get my ID book changed after my marriage. Every school holidays it was the thing that I did. Go and sit there again. They lost my documents. They blamed head office. They lost my fingerprints. Take my advice: go to another one even if you have to drive further.

        • Nicki

          February 2, 2016 at 10:25 am

          I cannot believe that it is such a common problem and yet NOTHING (the same as the sh!ts that are given) is done about this. These people have no idea that they are messing with peoples lives. We are currently doing our second adoption and this part of the whole process is my biggest point of contention. With our first child, it took about two years for everything to be finalised and for us to finally get a CORRECT birth certificate. Intitially with our application they only changed his surname and left his original name.

        • Jozi Wahm

          February 2, 2016 at 11:16 am

          Sorry you have to go through all this, it is totally not on. We also had a battle getting an unabridged birth certificate from the Randburg Home Affairs, which of course made applying for schools and even going on holiday abroad a mission.

        • Morris

          June 9, 2016 at 10:57 am

          Believe it or not, but I am in the same boat now. 13 months and still no name, no ID. I emailed minister of DHA, Registrations minister of DHA and still no response, feedback or anything. They lost original application. Then resend everything 3 times already. DHA is pathetic to say the least. They run a campaign to Safe the Children, but apparently not the adopted ones. I have also taken to Twitter now, lets see if I get any results.


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