Who Can Be Adopted from South Africa

Drakensberg, the eastern and highest portion of the Great Escarpment which surrounds the east, south and western borders of the central plateau of Southern Africa.

Because South Africa is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from South Africa must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that South Africa attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to South Africa’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.


The consent of the child’s biological father, except in cases of rape and incest, must be obtained before a child born out of wedlock is placed for adoption. Unmarried fathers have the right to apply for access, custody or guardianship. Previously, only the consent of the biological mother was required. A married or divorced biological father can prevent his wife or former wife from relinquishing their child(ren) for adoption.

According to South African law, a child born to parents who are not married to each other at the time of birth is considered illegitimate. A child born to unmarried parents becomes legitimate as soon as his/her biological parents marry. Normally, the mother of an illegitimate child is not only the legal guardian of her child, but also has custody even if she herself is still a minor. Only if it is proven that she is unfit to have custody can the child be taken from her and placed in alternative custody. Under current laws, an illegitimate child may take the surname of its father only if the father has formally acknowledged parentage of the child in the birth register. The mother alone has the right to decide the child’s name.

Relinquishment Requirements: If one or both of the child’s parents are alive and can be found, they must both provide written consent to the adoption.

Abandonment Requirements: A child whose parents are both dead or who has been abandoned is available for adoption. In the case of the parents’ death, government-issued death certificates must be obtained to demonstrate the child’s status as an orphan. If the child has been abandoned, some evidence of abandonment may be required.

Age Requirements: The child must be under 18 years of age.

Sibling Requirements: None specified.

Requirements for Special Needs or Medical Conditions: South African law does not require adoption agencies to disclose whether a child is HIV-positive. There is no legal requirement for prospective parents to be tested for HIV; however, adoption agencies may require HIV testing for the child, the natural mother and/or the adoptive parents before proceeding with a placement.

Waiting Period: None specified.

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