Child abandonment is a big deal in our country. Although there are no accurate up-to-date stats, it is estimated that more than 3500 babies and children are abandoned annually in South Africa. Before getting angry with the Moms who make this desperate choice, please remember that many of them are victims of some sort of trauma themselves and if they felt safe, secure and protected then they might be making different choices. Be slow to judge.
This is current South African legislation, which restricts options for Moms in crisis:
-Illegal immigrants are unable to legally place their children in the formal child protection system in South Africa, and face deportation should they try.
-Relinquishing one’s parental rights so that a child can be adopted, can only be done without a legal guardian’s consent from the age of 18 years, making this option inaccessible to teenage mothers. However, a child of any age can request an abortion in South Africa sending mixed messages about the option of adoption.
-Anonymous child abandonment has been criminalised, with mothers facing a range of charges such as concealment of birth and attempted murder.
-Baby safes are considered illegal in terms of the Children’s Act, however, these are being opened up more frequently given the increase in abandonment.
How can you choose to care?
- If you are experiencing a crisis pregancy, visit www.crisispregnancy.org.za or call/SMS 0800 864 658 to discuss your options and get the support you need for you and your unborn child.
- PLEASE sign this petition asking the South African government to take responsibility for this major social challenge by conducting research and implementing a plan that will make a difference in the lives of our forgotten children.
This whole situation is too terrible for words but our hope is not lost. Let’s pray for breakthrough in the cycle of child abandonment. Let’s consider birth moms with more understanding and promote adoption as a viable option for birth moms who are experiencing crisis pregnancy as well as parents who are considering growing their families.
Here are some pics from last weekend’s #ChoosetoCareSA campaign which raised awareness about child abandonment during the 16 days of Activism against Women & Children. Baby dolls were abandoned in public places across the country with an information sheet including the crisis pregnancy contact details & information about the petition.
Information summarised from Dee Blackie’s Fact Sheet on Child Abandonment Research in South Africa, compiled in May 2014.
You can read more about this subject in Robyn Wolfson Vorster’s article ‘Gone without a trace: The shocking fate of South Africa’s abandoned children’ here.