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  • Ziyanda Mpakama

“BLACK PEOPLE DON’T ADOPT, CHOMI”

Updated: Aug 27

"Black people don't adopt, chomi" is the response I got from a friend of mine when I mentioned adoption as a way to motherhood. My google history on adoption websites and articles dates back to 2012 when I knew for sure I would adopt, and I would adopt very soon, but I delayed making that “cast in stone” decision, going back to the websites every few months just to keep the desire alive.


The more I researched and read about adoption in South Africa, I was confronted by damning statistics on the number of abandoned children in the country, the feeble number of children that are adopted compared to the number of children available for adoption, an overwhelming majority of them being black babies and adoption agencies in dire need of adoptive parents. This has led to an increase of transracial adoptions in the country and every article you read will tell you the situation is as it is because black people do not adopt!


This caused an anxiety in me, fear that this is what I would have to deal with for the rest of my life - strange looks, raised eyebrows and righteous judgements because “black people do not adopt”. There is nothing that could be further from the truth. Many black people have grown up at one point or another with relatives in their households. I have one brother and one sister but for as long as I can remember we have always had cousins live with us, there were probably no more than 3 years where it was just my parents and siblings in our house. Our grandparents raised villages, we have aunts and uncles that are not connected by blood. But raising a relative's child is different to raising a stranger's child, you say...it is not! At the heart of adoption is loving, caring for, protecting, teaching a child that is not yours biologically as though they were, related or not.


So, where does this notion that black people do not adopt come from? Statistics and records give us this bleak picture about the state of our children in our country who need loving homes. To have any kind of statistical information, you need reliable, verifiable data and it is this verifiable data, or lack thereof that makes it seem as though black people do not adopt.


The process of adoption is very specific, it is a carefully laid out legal process governed by legislation, regulations and policies and procedures. Many children in the rural and township communities that are being raised by people who are not their biological parents are not in the system. When a relative/neighbour dies, the children are taken in and their primary needs are taken care of, instead of contacting the authorities and before you know it, the child is integrated into the family and raised as one of the children of the household. I believe it seems as though black people are not adopting because the kind of "black adoptions" that happen are not recorded.


As if the decision to adopt isn't scary enough, being a single, black female added complexities to my emotions, my thought process, my views. In an attempt to find anything that would talk to how I was feeling I searched the internet..."single, black female adopting in South Africa"...I searched and I searched and I searched and found absolutely nothing!!! I read blogs, articles, bought books about adoption but I still felt like none of them were talking to ME.


One of the first misconceptions you will hear when you mention adoption to people is that it takes a very long time. We sit in our corners and cover ourselves with all kinds of untruths about adoption, we let it deter us, we keep it taboo. We allow ourselves to believe that being an adoptive mother “is just not the same”, we view it as an inferior way to motherhood, we allow words like “real” mother to take hold and breed inadequacy in adoptive mothers and mothers who have had to come to motherhood in ways other than pregnancy.


How then do we pierce through this dark cloud of misinformation and shine truth through it? It is with this question in mind that I have decided to open myself up and the journey I have embarked on. If my story can help just one person who is adopting, particularly as a single black female (but not limited to), help someone to support a family member/friend who is adopting then I will be happy.


The blogging space is completely new to me and as I read about starting and maintaining a blog one thing became clear, the blog must have an objective. The objective of my blog is to 1) inform and educate on the process of adoption in South Africa; 2) dismantle the myth that black people do not adopt and 3) take you on the emotional, psychological and spiritual journey of the single, black female as an adoptive parent. Your honest thoughts and views and questions are welcome to open this dialogue.



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