Social aspects

Children looking for adoptive parents mostly live in a children’s home or in short-term foster care. Some of them have lived with their biological parents or some of the biological extended family for a while before they came to a children’s home due to family troubles. Reasons why parents or relatives see themselves incapable of taking care of the child include poverty, disease, homelessness, addictions, violence, psychological problems, unemployment, responsibility for multiple children or a combination of these.

Legal aspects

It is the biological parents who decide to give up their child (and all parental rights) for adoption. The state of South Africa cannot take away parental rights. Still, sometimes the biological parents are not known despite thorough research (foundling) or not/no longer traceable. In these cases, the South African court can make the decision to give the child up for adoption.

RACAP: the authorities enter all South African children given up for adoption into the RACAP, the “register of adoptable children and adopting parents”. Its primary objective is to find adoptive parents within South Africa through transparency and nationwide cooperation. Since South African authorities make intensive efforts in this area make this more and more common. Nevertheless there are less families in South Africa willing to adopt a child than children who need parents. If no adoptive parents could be found for a child after 60 days, the authorities try to find a family through intercountry adoption.


The South African authority expects all adoption applicants to be willing to adopt a child up to the age of three years. Most South African children looking for parents are between the ages of 10 months and three (3.9) years. Authorities also look for parents for children that are more than 4 years of age; that sort of adoption usually is a “special needs” adoptions and thus is given priority.


Boys as well as girls are looking for adoptive parents, hence it is expected from adoption applicants to be open to both genders.

Medical aspects

Before being entered into the RACAP, every child in South Africa is medically examined and tested for chronic diseases (such as HIV, hepatitis B, C, etc.). The children are examined in a private children’s clinic in Johannesburg. This clinic specialises in children living in homes or with foster parents and cooperates with IMPILO. EfKÖ inspected the clinic in 2015 and witnessed that European standards on the field of children’s diagnostics are met there. All results are listed on a thorough medical overview report and are complemented with detailed lab results.


All children get vaccined; the South African vaccination regimen meets the European standards.

Children and HIV diagnostics

South Africa provides at least two negative HIV test results per child in order to be put up for adoption. If the first test (ELISA method) shows a positive result, both following tests (DNA-related PCR method), have to show a negative result.
This is the case with many children; thus, there will be listed 3 HIV tests in the report. This is due to the children developing antibodies against the virus because their mother is HIV-positive. These antibodies disappear after a certain while, or that is to say, if the child does not carry the virus him/herself. Hence, the child is HIV-negative. This subject is discussed in detail by a paediatrician within the framework of the EfKÖ training for South Africa-adoption applicants.

Children and health

The term “healthy” is a very relative one. Every person has minor or major health issues. The same applies to the children looking for adoptive parents – they do have some health problems.
Due to the children’s difficult living conditions, these health issues may or may not be recognised or (surgically) treated well enough. When a family adopts the child, these deficits concerning medical care can be compensated so that the child’s development will eventually be fostered.
Mostly, the prognoses are very good since adoptive children have not been able to develop their actual potential in their past lives.
Hence, all adoption applicants should be willing and have enough time to accompany their adoptive child on visits to the doctor, therapy and treatment sessions, support measures or surgical procedure.

Children and special needs

Also in South Africa children with special needs look for adoptive parents abroad. Only if the adoption applicants explicitly expressed their willingness to adopt a special needs child, an adoption can take place. Such an adoption is supervised very closely.

Children with special needs are:
•healthy children from the age of four years
•groups of siblings (at least one of the children has to be significantly older than three years)
•children requiring a lot of support, assistance and therapy
•children from an extremely difficult social background
•children who face grave health challenges
•children whose development is delayed due to various health issues such as epilepsy, FASDs, etc.
•children with an uncertain prognosis
•HIV-positive children

Children and disabilities

Mentally and physically disabled children need intensive care. This is great challenge to biological as well as adoptive parents. Of course disabled children need security and loving care.
One of EfKÖ’s major concerns is to find adoptive parents for as many children as possible, hence we are very happy to see that you are interested in adopting or are willing to adopt a child with special needs or disabilities.
Please do not hesitate to contact us.


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