Karabo is a working Heart Mama who became a Mom through adoption. After a four month screening and placement process, four month old Dwala joined their family. Dwala is now almost four and may be a big sister soon! Thank you for sharing your unique story with us, Karabo.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your family.
My name is Karabo and I’m married to Bheki. We have been married for six years but we’ve known each other for more than 10 years. We have a soon-to-be four year old daughter, Dwala. We are a family of three, who have recently suffered the loss of a second adoption.
Did you always know that you wanted to adopt?
At the age of 27 the thought of adoption came to my mind. I was not married then but in a serious relationship. My boyfriend at the time (now my husband) and I discussed it. Our plan was to have a biological child and an adopted child but after a year of trying to conceive and not being successful, we pursued adoption.
Did you use an agency or did you adopt through Child Welfare? What would you recommend?
We did our first adoption through an agency and we also used an agency for our second adoption which fell through.
What was the hardest part of the process?
With our first adoption, the waiting for ‘the call’ was the hardest thing, not knowing when it would happen. With our second adoption process, the loss of a baby is the hardest pill to swallow. We were matched with a baby when she was six weeks old and I visited her daily until day 60 when her birth mom changed her mind. Now that we’ve started the process again, waiting again is not easy.
(Note: Many Adoption Social Workers and agencies prefer to match prospective parents with their baby once this time period has lapsed to protect adoptive parents from experiencing this loss.)
What was your first night together as a family like?
We couldn’t really sleep. I was continuously checking if our baby was breathing, wanting her to cry to show that she is really here with us. She was so quiet and all I wanted to know was if she was happy and if she was coping with the loss of moving house and province.
What is your funniest adoption-related family story?
A lady at Woolworths once asked who our child looks like because she looks nothing like us (according to her). I just looked at the lady, and I said ‘Her birth mother.’ The lady looked puzzled with no courage to ask more.
Do you celebrate ‘adoption day’ with any traditions?
Yes we do. For us it’s an interesting day of loss and gain. A year ago before Dwala’s placement, on the same date, my father passed on and a year later, on the same day, she was placed in our famliy.
Advice for the screening process?
Relax and be yourself. Don’t take it as if you are being judged, the screening is for the Social Workers to get to know who you are.
How can friends and family best support those adopting?
Adoption is as good as expecting a new born baby. Be there for the adoptive parents the same way you would be with the expecting parents.
Formal adoption is still quite rare within black communities – how have your friends reacted to your adoption?
We are the same race and shade of colour as our daughter, just different cultures between the three of us. Although it might not be obvious that our daughter is adopted, we talk about it as a family and our daughter can say a bit of her story. I do bring up the fact that our daughter is adopted in situations where people ask who she looks like or why she is light skinned etc. For some people it wasn’t easy for them to understand our parental route but we have received so much positivity and our daughter is so loved. We have very loving family and awesome friends. Dwala’s preschool know that she is adopted so that they can touch on the adoption story and teach the kids that families are different.