Something we may have forgotten to ask our social worker and she may have forgotten to expand with us, was what "Placement" or the trip where we meet our new family member is all about.

We were under the impression that when we went to fetch our son and brought him home, that the hard part was over and he was forever ours. Well not quite. How mistaken we were. It was only at this point that we also learnt that for the first 24 months, that we could receive a call from our Social Worker informing us that our son's birth parents wanted to meet to see how their birth child was doing. By law, you can't say no.

Before our son was placed with us, we had to appear before a judge. Who basically gave the last stamp of approval after assessing us in those few minutes to see if she agreed with the Social Workers feedback on us. She then basically signed the Adoption order. Only after this has happened can you go and meet your new precious cargo.

Meeting our son for the first time will forever be etched in my memory. A special moment I will always carry with me in my heart. So "placement" as we learnt literally means that, the placement of this precious child in our custody to care and love. At this point, it does not mean you have become officially the child's parent or adoptive parent. In my opinion, you've basically become the foster parent taking over from the Kangaroo family.

Roughly a month after the placement took place, we received a call informing us that the adoption had been registered. We didn't wait for it to be mailed. Hubby was in the car literally a few minutes after the call making his way to Pretoria to fetch that envelope. At this point, I believe is when you technically can breath as the child is yours, primary birth certificate and legal documents confirming this.

Next step was changing his name. At this point, you want to change the child's birth certificate to show your chosen name for them, and more importantly, it must show your names as the parents. If you're entering this phase of your adoption, be ready to wait. Be ready to make numerous calls to the Home Affairs call centre. This is the phase in the adoption that requires even more patience than the waiting period, mostly because it is frustrating to sit and wait for something you can't influence. There really isn't much you can do during at this time. During this phase your child's name is changed, then a new ID number is allocated to them under the new name - this I believe is where the delay is. Only once the new ID number has been allocated will you receive an SMS/Text informing you that their new birth certificate is ready for collection. Important to make sure that you check the new birth certificate has the correct names... yours and the child. It has happened, I have read, that there have been instances where it has been incorrect. It just means you go back to the back of the queue!

The same day we collected the new birth certificate (abridged), we applied for his passport and unabridged birth certificate - the birth certificate that reflects both parents names. With the change in law, I believe that all new adoptive parents receive the unabridged birth certificate and not the abridged first. You will need the unabridged for most things related to your child, school, travel across borders...and more . We wanted to introduce him to the rest of the family. Just in case the passport wasn't ready on time, we also applied for a temp passport, this was just before some countries in stopped accepting them. We need not have worried because the wait wasn't long before we received another SMS/Text informing us that his new passport was ready for collection!

I know that we were very fortunate, the paperwork process took less than 12 months from start to finish. Although then it felt like a lifetime. I am aware of cases that families have had to wait a very long, long time to get their new birth certificate and even longer for the unabridged birth certificate.

This was our experience, yours may well be different.

Totally in love with our son, and we're grateful that he chose us :-)


Published by Emanuel Kelly-Loulié