How do you know if adoption is for you? Social workers share helpful advice for those considering it

Resilience is crucial for adoptive parents. Picture: Olia Danilevich /Pexels

Resilience is crucial for adoptive parents. Picture: Olia Danilevich /Pexels

Published Apr 18, 2024


Thinking about adopting a child? It's a deeply moving decision, not just about giving them a place to stay but pledging a lifetime of love, support and care.

Taking your time to decide, asking for help and seeking advice from experts is part of the process. What's important is ensuring you can offer a warm, stable, and caring home.

The adoption journey varies worldwide, influenced by factors like the country, adoption type, and agency.

The reasons people choose to adopt are many and varied.

How can you tell if adoption is the right path for you?

Amid the debates on adoption versus having biological children, Beverley Beukes, a social worker, adoptive parent, and the Managing Director of Oasis Haven in Johannesburg, highlighted the importance of potential adoptive parents conducting self-assessments to see if adoption suits them.

Adopting a child can be a journey filled with unique challenges. Picture: Olia Danilevich /Pexels

Together with social worker, Simone Oketch, Beukes co-authored "Strengthening Families in a South African Context".

This guide, backed by Ambassadors for Good, offers insights into foster care, adoption and family support.

It's designed to help potential adoptive parents understand the challenges and rewards of adoption, and it provides guidance for those working to support families through this journey.

Located in Robin Hills, Johannesburg, Oasis Haven stands as a beacon of hope for vulnerable children, offering a safe and nurturing environment across its two-family homes, each designed to accommodate up to 10 children.

This registered Child and Youth Care Centre is on a mission to ensure that every child in need finds a place in a loving, permanent family.

"We're dedicated to breaking the cycle of vulnerability among children by providing them with the care, education, and therapy they need, all grounded in our faith-based approach," shared Beukes.

Adopting a child can be a journey filled with unique challenges, but Oasis Haven has identified certain traits that can make the process smoother and more fulfilling for parents.

The process and decision to adopt a child raises numerous questions and require careful consideration.

Questions such as: What does adoption mean? Who is eligible to adopt? How long does it take? What are the costs involved? What are the initial steps? Am I ready for parenting? How will I manage the challenges that come with adoption?

Surprisingly, a good sense of humour is at the top of the list.

"Being able to laugh at the little things, at oneself, and even a child's playful behaviour can be incredibly beneficial," shared Beukes.

“It's not about being constantly amusing but finding joy and laughter in day-to-day life, which can be a powerful way to overcome challenges and create a happy family environment."

Another crucial trait is the ability to understand and share feelings. This emotional intelligence is key for adoptive parents, helping them to manage the complexities of raising a child who has gone through the adoption process.

"It's about navigating the parenting journey with an open heart, embracing both the highs and lows with grace, and teaching your child to do the same," Beukes added.

Adoptive parents need a strong sense of self-belief and commitment to their child, even when the affection isn't immediately returned.

Resilience is crucial for adoptive parents. They must keep challenges in perspective, be prepared for uncertainties, and be adaptable.

According to Oketch, a social worker at Oasis Haven, being flexible is key. "Adoptive parents must learn from their mistakes and be willing to change.

“This period is an adjustment for them as well as for their child. When things don't work, it's important to try new methods.“

“Effective communication and problem-solving skills are critical for navigating the adoption process and fostering a supportive home environment.”

Parents will also need to prioritise a sense of family. “Successful adoptive parents see the family as a team that works together. When problems arise, they concentrate on the family as a unit, rather than on one specific member.

“They view the child in their total environment, knowing the child is influenced by many factors, including school, neighbourhood, friends, and past experiences,” explained Beukes.

It may feel overwhelming to look at all of these characteristics and feel like there are areas where you don’t measure up, but remember that parenting is a journey (one that often starts even before you have a child living in your home), and everyone has the ability to grow in all of these capabilities.