Loved watching this beautiful story of the Baucham’s and how God used adoption in their lives to better understand the Gospel and God’s adoption of us into his family.
I recently did an interview about our adoption story with Jules from Heart Mama Blog. Loved the opportunity to share our story!
Marli is a Heart Mama from Pretoria who juggles a being a Mom to her two kids with a part time medical career. She chats to us here about the life-changing journey of parenting through adoption and you can also follow her personal blog here for some more adoption posts. Thank you for sharing your story, Marli.
Tell us a bit about your family
We are the Swanepoels, so far made up of 4 unique individuals bonded together as family not by genes but by the adopting grace of Jesus. De Wet and I have been married for nearly 11 years now, and we have two children by adoption. Nina turns 5 in October and Siya turns 2 in a month’s time.
Did you always know that you wanted to adopt?
When we did our pre-marital counselling, we talked extensively about our future family. We decided then already that we wanted to adopt, but after having biological children. After a few years of pursuing pregnancy and undergoing treatments we decided that we would rather focus our efforts on adoption. At this time we read a book that changed our perception on adoption forever – Adopted for Life by Dr Russell Moore. We realised then that adoption for us was not Plan B, but Plan A!
Did you use an agency or did you go through Child Welfare?
With both adoptions we worked through Social Workers in Private Practice. Both adoptions were seamless and made as easy as possible! With Nina, we actually met her very brave “tummy mommy” when she was about 6 months pregnant. We went with her to the gynae visits and I was in theatre when our precious baby girl was born! On the morning of Nina’s birth we exchanged gifts, and Nina’s biological mom made her a quilt with her date of birth. I know that this is something that Nina will treasure forever. We met Siya when he was 6 weeks old and visited him as often as we wanted to until the day that we could take him home with us – when he turned 10 weeks. It made the bonding with him so much easier. We were also able to meet his special biological mother the day before placement and she also gave us a letter that we are keeping for Siya until he’s a little older.
*Read the rest of the post here.
Currently the Childrens Act in South Africa states that when a child is put up for adoption he or she may only be placed with the adoptive family 60 days after the biological mother has signed the adoption papers. This is apparently to protect both the child and the adoptive mother from any emotional trauma in the event that the biological mother decides to keep the baby.
With our second adoption, Siya was placed in a baby home in Laudium. New Beginningz Haven is a wonderful place and I can only thank the Lord that Siya spent his first few weeks of life in this loving home.
This is a clip made by the Vodacom Foundation of New Beginningz. My favourite part is where Florence, the cook, says that the best part of her day is when she knows that the children’s tummies are full.
I just love this article! Adoption is beautiful, adoption is precious and adoption creates families!
7 November was our one year anniversary of bringing Siya home to us! I simply cannot believe how fast the time has flown.
This year has been so much easier and better than I ever dreamt it would be. From the day we told our family and friends we got the call from our social worker, we have been surrounded with love and support. Everyone was so excited for us and were counting down the days with us until his home-coming. We were in the very fortunate position of meeting Siya about 3 weeks before the placement date and that gave us more than enough time to fall in love with this sweet little baby.
It was still an adjustment going from a family of 3 to 4 and I think the biggest challenge was getting Siya to learn good sleeping habits. But the hard work paid off and now he is a toddler that LOVES to go to bed and gives us most nights uninterrupted sleep. I am very grateful for the way that we all settled in, and nowadays I am not even aware of the color difference between us.
Siya is very friendly, inquisitive and loves to make jokes. He is always looking for a new way to make us laugh. He is a big tease and just knows which “buttons to press” with Nina to really annoy her! He has a special love for a toilet, and a few weeks ago for the first but hopefully last time he dropped a cell phone in the toilet. Siya doesn’t sit still even for a few seconds and is forever busy exploring and climbing on any kind of obstacle. He definitely has a natural instinct when it comes to music and dancing, it is so cute to see that little body start to move to the beat.
We have also been really amazed by the ease and enthusiasm by which Nina welcomed Siya as her brother. Even now a year later, Nina loves it when Siya is with me when we pick her up from the school because she so enjoys showing off with him. She also likes to discipline him and we have to step in every so often when we can hear her reprimanding him. 😉
It is also special to share this one year anniversary of Siya’s homecoming with National Adoption Month, and we have been reminded again about the big burden that there is in the world and especially in Africa concerning orphans. We also took our Adoption Selfie with the smiley faces.
For us it is impossible not to also be reminded about our adoption into God’s family by the work of Jesus Christ. We praise His name and give Him thanks for the wonderful privilege to be called children of the Most High God!
“For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will – to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One he loves.”
Love this little bit tongue-in-cheek but also honest look at typical questions multi-racial adoptive families get. 🙂
“Why Didn’t You Adopt a White Baby?” and Other Questions I Wish People Would Stop Asking
I’m a mom of three children, all of whom were adopted at birth. My kids are black, and my husband and I are white. When we visit the park, eat at a restaurant, meander around the mall, or stand in a checkout line, we can reliably predict the questions and comments that will come our way.
We are a multi-racial adoptive family, and we realize that our uncommon path to parenthood evokes curiosity. However, there are days we can’t even buy toilet paper or order a sandwich without hearing, “Excuse me … ” followed by a request for personal information or an assumption about adoption or race. It gets tiresome to respond to the same questions and comments over and over, all while standing right beside my children who are listening and learning about the world.
Here are some things I really wish people would stop saying to us:
1. “Are you going to tell the kids they are adopted?”
Um, they already know. And I think they’d figure it out even if we didn’t tell them.
2. “Are the kids real siblings?”
Of course. Kids in the same family are “real” siblings. We are the real parents. We are a real family. Authenticity isn’t based on genetics.
3. “Oh! I’ve always wanted a little brown baby. They are SO SO SO cute!”
Yes, my kids are adorable. But a brown-skinned child isn’t an accessory to be carried around. My kids, you know the ones standing right next to me, are people with feelings, and there’s much more to them than their looks – such as their intelligence, talents, and humor.
4. “What country are they from?”
Um, the Midwest. In the United States. Not all black kids were adopted from Africa.
5. “Isn’t it so hard to do their hair?”
(This one is usually proceeded by an attempt to fondle the kids’ heads.) Like anything in parenting, moms and dads learn as they go. And please, please do not touch my children. You are a stranger, and my children aren’t puppies to pet. Also, that hair you are admiring took hours to style, so keep your grimy hands off!
6. “It’s so nice of you to provide them with a loving home. The kids are so lucky to have you as their parents.”
We didn’t rescue our children. They came from loving families and were placed with us for reasons we don’t disclose out of respect for the birth families’ privacy. We are the lucky ones, so please don’t act like our kids are charity cases.
7.“Why didn’t you adopt a white baby?”
We were open to adopting a child of any race. We were chosen, three times, to become parents of a black child. Our ability to love a child has nothing to do with the child’s race.
8. “I heard adoption is so expensive! Doesn’t adopting cost a ton of money?”
Financial matters aren’t usually a topic of discussion between strangers. But since you are just itching to know how much adoption costs, you can call adoption agencies and ask. And keep in mind, adopting from foster care is free.
9. “I’ve always wanted to adopt, but I know that adopted kids have problems.”
Yes, all adopted children are exactly the same. Thankfully we have Lifetime movies to provide the public with stereotypical adoption education. You do realize my children are standing right here as you proclaim how all adopted children have issues, right?
10. “Now that you’ve adopted, are you going to try to have your own kids?”
These are our own kids. And unless you’re my gynecologist, my uterus is none of your concern.
Tip: The next time you see a family like mine, treat them just as they are, fellow human beings. Interrogations aren’t appreciated. Smiles are.
This post was taken from www.Adoption.Com
Today is the start of Adoption Awareness Month. I think it is sobering and useful to start off this month with the following short quote from Show Hope.
“Right now, there are more than 140 million orphans in the world. That’s 140 million names, 140 million little faces, and 140 million reasons to join the movement to care for orphans.”
It is impossible to turn a blind eye to this crisis in the world! There are so many ways to get involved in adoption. Financial sponsorships, visiting local orphanages and spending time with these children, praying – both for orphans and for families waiting to adopt, attending adoption seminars, reading books and obviously to pray about and perhaps pursue adoption as an option for your familiy!
This is quite a sobering look at the orphans crisis currently in South Africa. Several factors play a role in this, as discussed in this article. Apart from the cultural complexities involved the lack of qualified social workers is also a big problem.
NEW RESEARCH ON CHILD ABANDONMENT AND DECLINING ADOPTION RATES IN SOUTH AFRICA
The alarming increase of abandonment requires deeper research insights and understanding of cultural beliefs to stem crisis
[20 May 2014]: A new qualitative research study on child abandonment and adoption in the context of African ancestral beliefs in contemporary urban South Africa was released today by the National Adoption Coalition South Africa (NACSA) ahead of Child Protection Week. Here is that document: Fact Sheet – Research on Child Abandonment in South Africa
The research undertaken by Dee Blackie, a consultant to the National Adoption Coalition of SA, is the result of an intensive, 1-year long research project that will provide NACSA with the understanding and insights needed to address the growing social crisis of child abandonment and declining adoption rates in South Africa. Blackie’s fieldwork, conducted from March 2013 to February 2014, involved in-depth interviews and participant observation with young women experiencing unplanned pregnancy, women who had been apprehended for abandoning their children, community members, police officers, nurses and social workers, baby home managers and caregivers, adoption social workers, foster care and adoptive parents, psychologists and psychiatrists, legal experts, traditional healers and abandoned children (predominantly in Alexandra, Soweto and Tembisa).
“Child abandonment continues to rise in South Africa, but there is little to no understanding of this alarming social challenge. This together with the increasing numbers of orphans due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic is placing extreme pressure on temporary care solutions such as children’s homes and foster care. Adoptions have decreased by more than 50% over the past decade with research indicating that much of the decline is due to the implementation of the new Children’s Act in 2010 and what has been referred to as ‘cultural barriers’,” says Dee Blackie.
Contemporary South Africa has a number of the challenges associated with child abandonment including restrictive legislation, high levels of poverty, mass urbanisation and migrant labour, high levels of violence especially rape, gender inequality and diminishing family support. All of these issues lead to the increasing vulnerability of young women in the urban environment and can result in child abandonment as a ‘survival strategy’ on the discovery of an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy.
Blackie’s research found that both child abandonment and the decline in adoption are influenced by indigenous African ancestral beliefs. She found that some mothers and community members believe that, in the eyes of their ancestors, to abandon a child is better than formally relinquishing their rights as parents so that the child can be adopted.
The research found that ancestral beliefs play a significant role in child abandonment in South Africa. “Formally placing a child up for adoption is seen as a conscious act, and similar to the choice of abortion, amounts to the rejecting a gift that the ancestors have given you. Many young women believe that the punishment for doing this could be extreme suffering and bad luck and in some cases, they believe they may even be rendered infertile as a result of their actions. Other circumstances such as depression, high levels of stress possibly due to how the child was conceived such as rape, or that she had been abandoned herself by the father of the child or her own family, which is often the case, are often contributing reasons for abandoning the baby. In this instance, the mother can then sacrifice something to call her ancestors, and then when they appear, apologise to them at which point they could choose to forgive her,” explains Blackie.
“Adoption is also viewed with great concern as bringing a child with an unknown ancestry into a family is thought to cause problems for both the adoptive family and the child. Most research respondents believe that a child who does not know their ancestors – the decedents of their father’s line – will live a difficult life and may also not be able to fulfil many of their traditional roles and rituals in their family. These include paying damages for a child, paying lebola (to get married), celebrating big milestones such as matriculating, graduating or getting a new job. Ancestors are also important for guidance and support, for understanding where illness may come from, and assisting a person in making important life decisions.
“Many black adoptive parents choose not to disclose that their children are adopted for fear of rejection from their extended family or community. However, if this is discovered later on in life, it can cause high levels of trauma for the abandoned child” adds Blackie.
But the research also revealed that despite the negative perceptions of adoption, all of the sangomas (traditional healers) interviewed confirmed that they could assist a child who has been abandoned to find their ancestors. They can also help a family who chooses to adopt a child, through a process called ‘ubigile’ or the announcing of the child to the ancestors.
“The sangomas believe that despite child abandonment being increasingly associated with postpartum depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome, the only way to solve this issue is to fix it at a family and community level, rather than through the medication and counselling of the individual mother or child,” adds Blackie.
The comprehensive research will inform a number of initiatives planned by the National Adoption Coalition in their attempt to curb this growing social crisis.
Pam Wilson, spokesperson for NACSA adds: “Getting to the heart of cultural and ancestral beliefs is crucial if we are to address this challenge by understanding the reasons behind high levels of abandonment and declining adoptions. It will inform and shape our messaging and approach, particularly as we are about to embark on a campaign specifically aimed at unplanned pregnancy and helping families to support the young women in their homes. The research information will also be used to expand on the Coalition’s Community Engagement Programme specifically around option counselling for unplanned pregnancy to help young pregnant mothers to make informed decisions. Finally, in support of the call by sangomas and traditional leaders, this year’s adoption conference planned for October, will focus on trying to find more culturally relevant approaches to adoption and other child protection strategies,” says Wilson.
During Child Protection Week 2014, the National Adoption Coalition will focus on the insights revealed from the research and use this as a basis to inform its actions going forward around the plight of South Africa’s adoptable children and provide accurate process information to birth and prospective adoptive parents, particularly around the issues of ancestry and cultural beliefs in South Africa.
* The whole article can be read here.
Very encouraging post from a Cape Town adoptive mom about the challenges with adoption.
I so much echo her first point about celebrating with a prospective adoptive couple! I have been blessed with family and friends that treated our “paper pregnancy” with the same joy and enthusiasm as if I were actually pregnant. I had several baby showers and everyone counted the days with us with both our kids’s placements. Forever grateful for that!
“About The Adoption Option”
Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the orphan. Fight for the rights of widows. Isaiah 1 vs 17 (NLT)
This is us, the Kynies – a rainbow nation mash-up. My husband, Ryan, and I are proud parents of two of the best kids. Ilan is three and enjoys ‘dancing like a Zulu’, imitating his sister and riding his bike dangerously down hills. Kira just turned one and is a real busy body – she can handle cuddles in a maximum of five second increments at most, has a deep belly laugh and has eyes only for her brother. We’re a family pieced together through adoption.
Ryan and I discussed our shared heart for adoption before we got married and when we felt ready to start a family, adoption was our number one choice. It helped that we’d seen adoption played out in other families and that we were able to discuss adoption with parents who had pioneered into the world of social workers and courtrooms ahead of us. Even though we felt under-qualified as first-time parents-to-be, we were reassured that ANY family is better than NO family for a child who needs a family.
Our concerns and questions about adoption made me realise that many people – whether it’s something they are personally exploring or never really considered – are also apprehensive when talking about or even approaching the topic. So, having said that, I thought some of the lessons I’ve learnt in my journey so far could be helpful advice to everyone out there – you don’t need to be a Hollywood celeb to broach the subject of adoption.
Celebrate with us!
Please rejoice with us when we tell you that we’re starting or expanding our family through adoption. Please continue to celebrate adoptive parents-to-be in the same way that you’d celebrate a pregnancy announcement – baby showers and meal rosters are very welcome. Please don’t deflate our moment by asking us to explain our motives.
Jumping through (many, many) hoops
So. Much. Admin. We’ve learnt that adoption admin is not for the faint-hearted! Adoption screening is not easy, nor cheap and you never know how long it will all take but all of this fades into the background when you get ‘the call’ to say that you’ve been matched as parents of a precious little one. When you meet your baby for the first time it really feels like you deserve to be there – the home visits, prying interviews and psychological assessments were so worth it. What a gift it is to parent one of God’s very own special ones.
As difficult as it is to keep this information to ourselves, our kids’ stories are not for us to share. Their history doesn’t belong to us. We aim to tell them the best version of their stories in an age-appropriate way as they grow up and if they choose to share it one day, then that’s up to them. South Africans must pray that our collective heart breaks for the issues that break God’s heart. We need to pray that the cycle of poverty and injustice in our country is broken. The reality is that God is building families through adoption despite a fallen world and it is by the grace of God that we don’t find ourselves in the same position as our children’s birth moms. Adoption means understanding, not judgement.
Bite your tongue
Let’s try and choose our vocab carefully. Adoption is such an overused word. Ilan is not our adopted son, he is our son. Plain and simple. Own is also an overused word that is not well received amongst adoptive families, please rather say ‘biological’ if this is what you mean. Our kids are our ‘own’ and yes, now they’re related. Luckyis another one – our kids are not lucky to have us, we are the lucky ones! Please try your best to avoid these words and forgive us if our knee-jerk reaction is to cover our kids’ ears when you use any of these words around them.
African hair, yes we care
We certainly don’t have a whole lot of experience in this department, so if you are someone who does, then help us out! We want to know which barber is going to rip us off and what hair products to use for our kids’ hair. Take it one step further and help our family celebrate our racial differences, see the world in colour and help our kids figure out what it means to be black in South Africa. Adoption is a team effort and we need you on our team.
* This post by Julie Kynaston was originally posted here.
As an adoptive mother of an African son, I know that we and Siya will still have to face many questions like this one.
This is such an inspirational story of a boy called Noah and how he responded one day in a classroom to this question.
Below are also a video of Noah.