THE shortage of social workers and stringent measures governing the adoption process are to blame for the constraining and discouraging parents adopting children in Namibia.
The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare Chief Public Relation Officer, Walters Kamaya, said the shortage of social workers has caused a decline in the number of adoptions in the past three years, with 87 adopted children in 2015 and 70 in 2016, and a mere 45 adoptions from July 2017. According to statistics, boys and girls get adopted in equal numbers.
“The waiting list is very long. It is getting longer by the day, month and year. The few social workers are busy with other issues concerning neglected and abused children,” he said.
The ministry has introduced the National Family Register to facilitate the assessment of prospective adoptive parents and to determine their suitability to adopt a child, but Kamaya said that the adoption process depends on a number of issues, such as the biological parents’ consent for the adoption to take place. According to Kamaya, this is usually the part that takes long.
“Sometimes it is difficult to get hold of biological parents thus this process could take anything from three months to two years,” he said.
He further said that people from other countries are also free to adopt children in Namibia but there are stringent measures that need to be adhered to before such an adoption can be finalised. An assessment is conducted to determine their suitability and should they qualify, they will be matched with a child in need of care.
Kamaya said two options of adoption are possible, where the identity of the biological parents and the identity of the adoptive parents are known to each other, or when the adoptive parents want the adoption register to be closed to the biological parents. In the second case, the only persons who can have access to the adoption register are the adoptive parents and the child concerned.
The child concerned only gets access to the register when they turn 18 and it is then up to the child to decide whether they want to contact their biological parents or not.
Kamaya also said sometimes biological parents who gave up their babies for adoption return to claim their babies back. He mentioned that there are no prescribed provision in the current legislation that requires social workers to conduct after-care services, however, social workers do visit the adoptive parents after the adoption to provide such services.
Currently there are only two state-funded orphanages in Namibia, both situated in Windhoek.