Down Syndrome Adoption: Home with Caroline
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Spence-Chapin began its adoption program in South Africa in 2013 and partners with Johannesburg Child Welfare Society (JCW), a social service agency serving Johannesburg families since 1909. Spence-Chapin’s adoption program finds families for young children with special needs and sibling groups.
Who are the children waiting to be adopted?
Boys and girls with medical special needs ages 1- 12 years old. There are many families adopting toddlers with special needs from South Africa. Children will reflect the full range of ethnicity that exists in South Africa, especially in the Johannesburg area and adoptive families are asked to be open to adopting a child of either gender.
Who is eligible to adopt?
Many types of families! Single parents (men or women) as well as married & unmarried heterosexual and lesbian or gay couples can adopt! Parents over 48 years old should consult with Spence-Chapin.
What are the most common medical needs?
Check out this article on the Top 10 Medical Needs in South Africa! Common medical conditions include HIV, auditory and visual impairments, extreme prematurity, developmental delays, and unpredictable cognitive challenges. Due to the HIV epidemic, there is a specific need in finding adoptive families for children who are HIV+. JCW partners with a Thusanani Children’s Foundation to provide safe and modern medical care to ensure each child receives the medical care they need – HIV testing and treatment, occupational therapy, physical therapy, antibiotics, surgery, well-baby visits, etc. JCW strives to provide an environment that caters to the overall development of the children in their care which includes their physical, emotional, spiritual, and educational needs.
It’s recommend that families considering adopting a child with medical needs consult with a pediatrician about diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of specific conditions to consider if your family has the ability to provide the care a child will need. There are many experienced international adoption medical specialty clinics throughout the United States that are a resource for prospective adoptive families.
Who is Jo’burg Child Welfare (JCW) and what experience does this organization have?
Spence-Chapin’s partner, Johannesburg Child Welfare Society (JCW) is experienced in international adoptions with European and American families and has formalized procedures in place. JCW is involved in all phases of the adoption process from monitoring the children in care to providing adoptive families with cultural activities while in South Africa. JCW is responsible for written reports on the children, assessment of families, and providing the Central Authority with recommendations regarding adoption.
Do the children in care in South Africa speak English?
Yes, South Africans speak English as well as many other languages! Adoption documents will not need to be translated.
Are the children in South Africa typically in foster care or orphanages?
Jo’burg Child Welfare (JCW) has both foster care and orphanages, or children’s homes to care for children. Younger children are generally in orphanage care and older children may be in foster or group home care. In 2011, Spence-Chapin established its first Granny Program in Africa at the Othendweni Family Care Center, an orphanage in Soweto that is home to 90 children - 30 of whom range in age from newborn to four years old. Through the Granny program, children are paired with surrogate “grannies” from their local community, who spend special, one-on-one time with each of them. During our visits we’ve witnessed the commitment of the staff and Grannies, and the genuine concern for the children.
Are the children religious?
A young child will have few memories of holiday traditions and no understanding of theology. If a child has been exposed to religious practices, they are most likely Christian. The country is roughly 75% Christian according to 2001 census data.
What is the estimated time frame to be matched with a child?
Families can expect to be matched with a child within 12-18 months of dossier submission and travel 3-4 months later to meet the child and finalize the adoption. We recommend families wait to begin the process until they would feel comfortable with this timeframe and there are no children younger than 18 months old in the home.
Are sibling groups in need of adoption?
Yes, there are siblings in need of adoption. Most likely one child would be over age 6.
What do families say about adopting from South Africa?
After years of searching for the right program, Chris and Mary finally decided that the South Africa program at Spence-Chapin was a perfect fit for their family. According to Mary, they came to this conclusion because they were encouraged by the answers that they got about the South Africa program. They liked that the children placed internationally tend to fall into a more vulnerable category of having special needs, being older, or being part of a sibling group. And also “we were encouraged by Spence-Chapin’s enthusiasm about the program and their honesty about the adoption process.”
The Davila family was struck by the commitment of the staff to the children in their care at Johannesburg Child Welfare (JCW), Spence-Chapin’s partner agency in South Africa. Mary says that their social worker was “a saint who advocates tirelessly for the children and also manages to be 100% on top of all of the paperwork involved in an adoption.” They took comfort in knowing that their social worker would be by their side in every meeting in South Africa and that she knew their daughter: her personality, likes, and dislikes. She was available to answer questions at any hour of the day and clearly loved the children.
Chris and Mary have been home with Etta for about eight months. They describe Etta as “playful, hilariously funny, and sweet, sweet, sweet. “According to Mary, their family transition has been very smooth.
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