Social development department biased against adoptions, says judge

Department and social workers get a tongue-lashing from high court.
The Johannesburg High Court has ruled that adoption guidelines used by the Department of Social Development and its social workers to stigmatise and delay adoptions, apparently for “cultural reasons”, are unconstitutional.
Two women were harassed and bullied by social workers who seemed intent to place the babies with their grandparents to “maintain their cultural roots”.
The judge found the government’s stance to be “illogical” and evidenced a “level of bias against mothers who put up their babies for adoption”.
At the heart of the issue was the department’s interpretation of the Children’s Act and the guidelines. The judge said the interpretation was misconceived and the guidelines went “beyond what is legislated”.
The adoption guidelines used by the Department of Social Development and its social workers stigmatise and delay adoptions, apparently for cultural reasons, and are unconstitutional, a judge has ruled.
“At best the attitude adopted by the department and social workers can be described as an obnoxious disregard to the pain and trauma caused by them. At worst, their attitude can be described as a deliberate stratagem to discriminate and punish women who seek to have their babies put up for adoption. In either event, their attitude is intolerable,” said Johannesburg High Court Judge Fiona Dippenaar in her recent judgment.
The case before her was brought by two single women, aged 23 and 27, who had both “made the difficult life choice” to put their babies up for adoption. The women had gone through the legal processes, as determined by the Children’s Act, but were being harassed and bullied by social workers who seemed intent, in spite of strong opposition, to rather place the babies with their grandparents to “maintain their cultural roots”.
In the case of the child referred to as Baby “B”, four years have passed since he was placed with his potential adoptive parents and the department still refuses to issue a letter of recommendation, despite being ordered by the Children’s Court to do so.
While the department did issue a recommendation letter for Baby “L”, it subsequently launched review proceedings to set it aside.
Baby ‘B’
The birth mother of Baby B, in her affidavit before the court, said the father of the child wanted nothing to do with her pregnancy and disappeared. She gave birth in 2018 at Leratong Hospital. A social worker “interrogated” her about her plan for adoption and unbeknown to her, lodged a ...