How do I become an adoptive applicant for an adoption from South Africa?

1. Training in Austria

Applicants from Vienna

  1. Orientation Part with 2 Module Evenings (each 3 hrs) + 1 Orientation Day (1 Day) + 1 Orientation Talk (1 hr)
  2. Training Part with 7 Module Evenings
  3. Intercountry Module Day
  4. Practise Days (1.5 days)
  5. South Africa Module 1 and 2 (1.5 days)
Applicants from Lower Austria
  1. Attendance of the “Peter Pan” preparatory class (one weekend)
    2. South Africa module E (“Einstieg EfKÖ”), 1 and 2 (2.5 days)
Applicants from Vorarlberg
  1. Gathering information from the Vorarlberg Kinderdorf, department “Pflegekinderdienst”, Dr. Silvia Zabernigg
    2. South Africa module E (“Einstieg EfKÖ), 1 and 2 (2.5 days)

2. Official licensing procedure

All applicants require an official license. Applicants from Vienna must have the so-called “Pflegestellenbewilligung” (“foster care license”), applicants from Lower Austria need the “Aufnahme in die Vormerkliste” (“inclusion on the waiting list”). Vorarlberg families need to go through a licensing procedure conducted by Dr. Silvia Zabernigg.

3. Modules tailored to adoption from South Africa

Comprise 2 modules, 15 units overall. They are organised only when required, which is about every 1-2 years. The contents are adapted to adoption from South Africa. There will be talks as well as group discussions. We will focus specifically on the subject of adopting a dark-skinned child from a foreign culture.

4. Reflection and feedback talk

Every applicant (couples and singles) will have a personal conversation with EfKÖ social workers on the subject of being accepted into the EfKÖ applicants group. There is special focus on the personal reflection of all the information already gathered.

Next step:

Getting included in the EfKÖ applicants group

5. Waiting periods

Waiting period A for training/education, official approval and South Africa modules

Waiting period A may vary due to the booking situation of the classes, availability in terms of time of official staff and applicants; it can take between 6 and 18 months.

Waiting period B until the dossier can be compiled and sent

With our partner organisation IMPILO we have agreed to simultaneously provide five dossiers of applicants from Vienna, Lower Austria or Voralberg at all times. Every time a new child finds parents and adoption applicants become adoptive parents, the applicants up next can send their dossier to South Africa. Therefore, there is no telling beforehand when this will be.

Waiting period C until the applicants are picked as parents for a child

IMPILO, our parnter organisation, always picks the most suitable parents for a certain child. Hence, the placement is based exclusively on the child’s needs and not on the needs of the applicants or the dossier’s time of arrival. Also this waiting period can vary considerably, and always depends on
•the needs of the children currently looking for parents
•the willingness and potential of the applicants.

Waiting period in total

Currently, there pass between 1.5 and three years between the training and the call that you were picked as a parent for a child.

Shorter waiting periods

For applicants who are willing to adopt a child with special needs …


6. Compiling the dossier

Together with EfKÖ, the adoption applicants compile the documents for the dossier.

The dossier will contain about 20 documents and compiling it will take about 2-4 weeks. All documents have to contain recent data.

After the dossier is certified by a notary, the competent authority sends it to the South African central authority of adoption (Pretoria).

In case IMPILO holds a document for more than a year, it is required to update certain documents.

7. Homestudy

The homestudy report is a report about the applicants. It is produced by EfKÖ, contains about 10 pages and is part of the dossier. The report contains information on the applicants’ job and financial situation, residential situation and environment, information on attitudes on adoption and South Africa, opinions on upbringing, willingness to dive into the child’s biography, strengths of character and relationship and much more.

The applicants have to fill in a 25-page form; this is the basis for the discussions/talks in the framework of two home visits made by an EfKÖ staff member (qualified social worker, psychologist) who will then produce the report.

The travel expenses to Lower Austria and Vorarlberg have to be covered by the adoption applicants.

8. Matching

Matching will take place in South Africa. IMPILO picks the most suitable parents for a child. In doing so, the child’s needs and the applicants’ capability get matched, looking for the greatest possible complement.

Here are some questions that precede the matching:

  • Which applicants are willing to adopt this very child and deal with all the individual challenges that come with it?
  • Which couple can satisfy the child’s needs the best?
  • Which family is most likely to foster development, provide support, acceptance and love?
  • Which couple has the most similarities with the child (character traits, needs, opportunities)?

9. The child’s dossier

IMPILO forwards a referral to EfKÖ, explaining what child they find to be most suitable for a certain family.

EfKÖ then forwards the referral to the competent Austrian central authority of the respective state with regard to the regulations of the Hague Convention.

After thoroughly examining the dossier, the EfKÖ staff calls the respective family as soon as possible and gives them all the child’s basic information (age, gender, special medical needs or biographical info – but no photo yet)…


The applicants are given some time to reflect, then they decide if they want to proceed with the adoption. If this is the case, they will be invited to a consultation appointment with EfKÖ the following work day, during which all the documents (including a photo) will be thoroughly discussed.

The child’s dossier contains:

  • at least one photo of the child
  • a comprehensive report on the child’s medical development (including lab results, two negative HIV-tests, hep B, etc.)
  • birth weight and birth size (if available)
  • Apgar-score (if available)
  • a detailed social report on all the current child’s living conditions
  • the South African birth certificate
  • the approval to proceed with the adoption process issued by the South African central authority, as stipulated in Article 17 of the Hague Convention on “Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption”
  • information on the consent of the child’s biological mother/father (if available) or a newspaper ad looking for parents, acquaintances or relatives of the child
  • a confirmation in writing that the child was registered in the RACAP (register for adoptable children and adoptive parents) and information disclosing if and which South African families were considered for adopting the respective child and why a domestic adoption did not take place

10. Official procedures when the applicants agree to adopt

In case the Austrian adoptive parents decide to adopt the child, they let the competent Austrian authority know that they intend travel to South Africa.
If the Austrian competent authority agrees as well, Article 17 of the Hague Convention on “Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption” is issued and directly sent to the South African authority.

In advance, EfKÖ forwards all the data and relevant documents of the adoptive family and of the adoptive child to the Austrian embassy in Pretoria. As the last Austrian authority, the embassy has to check if the adoption procedure complies with all the regulations and directives of the Hague Convention.

11. The journey

About 2 to 5 weeks after having received the child’s dossier and after having decided to adopt the child, the adoption applicants travel to Johannesburg/South Africa.

The duration of stay in South Africa is about 4-5 weeks (as of June 1st 2015 the duration of stay can be extended up to 3 months; April 2015)

Before departure, EfKÖ assists the adoptive parents in taking care of all necessary preparations, e.g. accommodation, required documents that have to be carried, etc.

The future adoptive parents book the flights on their own. EfKÖ provides them with important information on flight connections, booking and seat reservations.

The following Johannesburg Bed & Breakfasts cooperate with us:

1. Jane’s place – Facebook: Jane’s Place

2. Garden Place – click here

The hosts will pick up the adoption applicants at the airport.

Upon arrival at the hotel, the adoption applicants will be provided with a detailed schedule for the whole stay.

The future adoptive parents will meet the IMPILO social worker, who will assist them throughout the stay.

During the whole stay, IMPILO organises everything for the family and accompanies them on their appointments:

  • transportation
  • preparation and handover of the documents
  • visits to the children’s home, court, embassy, etc.

On the “Tour of Origin”, IMPILO takes the adoption applicants to the most important biographical “sites” of the child’s life.

Getting to know each other

The day after the arrival, the IMPILO social workers discuss meeting with the child for the first time with the adoption applicants.

Then the adoptive applicants will be taken to the children’s home or the foster family. According to our experience, the child gets prepared intensively for the first encounter. The applicants can spend 3-4 hours with the child before they are taken back to the hotel (without the child).


Initial phase

The initial phase gives the child and the adoption applicants the opportunity to get to know each other and to get familiar with each other. In that phase, about 1-3 visits to the children’s home or the foster family take place. Thus, it may vary how long it lasts eventually. Everything depends on the child’s needs.


Taking responsibility for the child

If the child has gotten used to the adoptive parents and if the relationship building started out well, the adoptive parents take over responsibility for the child and take him/her to the hotel.

Then, no appointments will be scheduled for a week, so the adoptive parents can dedicate themselves to the child during that first familiarisation period. (At the moment, this time is shorter than that as you have to take into account that there is a 2-4 week waiting period for the passport application.)

If questions arise or if help is needed, the IMPILO team is available at any time.


Adoption process in court

The hearing of the adoptive family will be held at the court that is competent for the child (depending on finding/birth place and current residence). After reviewing and checking all documents, the family is thoroughly questioned by the judge if an imminent adoption is desired. Hence, the presence of the adoptive parents in court is required without exception.

From a legal point of view, it is possible to step back from the adoption up to this point.

The court gives verbal permission to adopt. If it is in the best interest of the child, the South African central authority can withdraw the permission to adopt within 140 days as of the date of the court order. This can be the case if, for example, the child’s well-being is at stake.

The court finalises the court order in writing. This order terminates all existing rights and obligations between the child and his/her biological parents. The child is given the last name of the parents adopting him/her.

The central authority in Pretoria then issues additional adoption documents; the South African unabridged birth certificate of the child is enclosed and has an Apostille stamp added. Handling time: about one week.


It is possible to apply for the child’s Schengen visa before issuance of the adoption documents by the central South African adoption authority, but only after issuance of the South African child passport. The Schengen visa authorises the child to enter the entire Schengen area. Therefore, both adoptive parents and the child are required to go to the Austrian embassy in Pretoria at least 10 days before the visa is issued to submit the necessary documents. The adoption documents legalised with apostille are finalised about one week before travelling back home and are fowarded to the embassy. The handling time of the visa will take about 2 to 3 days. The order of all steps that have to be undertaken may vary due to legal requirements.

Journey home

As soon as the child has received a visa, the family can travel back home.

12. Visits to government offices/authorities in Austria

For all arriving families, EfKÖ provides a list of all the visits the families have to make to government offices/authorities after having arrived with the child. EfKÖ gladly assist the families, in case further questions arise.

13. Post-placement Reports

The South African authorities require five post-placement reports in total. One report has to be sent to the central adoption authority respectively 6, 12, 24, 36 and 48 months after the child’s arrival in Austria.

In the dossier documents, every adoption applicant must declare his/her consent to have post-placement reports produced by EfKÖ and to bear the incurred costs.

One EfKÖ social worker makes a visit to the adoptive family and then writes the report. For the first report, the adoptive family has to provide eight photos of the child. EfKÖ forwards the report to IMPILO and the central authority in South Africa; the adoptive family receives a copy as well.

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