Places of safety for abandoned children are finding themselves having to rely more on each other as many reach maximum capacity meaning they can no longer take in children.
These unusual circumstances are because of lockdown measures that were imposed in March, where the movement and placement of children were suspended.
“When lockdown started, the movement of children in care was put on hold completely. That meant that even if a child had already been matched with an adoptive family before lockdown and the process wasn’t finalised, those children are still in our care. There were some children that were supposed to be reunited with their biological families, [but] the process had to be put on hold,” says Nadene Grabham, the operations director at Door of Hope.
Door of Hope is a home for abandoned and unwanted babies, with 73 children in their care.
And 12 of those babies were taken in since the lockdown started.
“This is concerning because these kids could be with their adoptive families or their biological families, instead, they’re stuck in a home and we’d rather have them with their families. While these babies are still with us, they take up space for babies who are out there [who] might need [the space] so a lot of the homes that we’ve been dealing with, have been up to full capacity.”
Other ways of getting things done
Katinka Pieterse from Abba, an organisation that specialises in adoption and social services, says the lockdown has also had an impact on them.
“Adoption services were one of the services that were suspended so we had no physical contact with prospective adoptive parents or birth mothers; and we did not really do screenings,” she says.
The agency came up with innovative ways to ensure that the children and adoptive families remained in contact.
“We tried to be creative and we did some virtual home visits and online screenings so we tried to continue with that, working from home. But the process of matching children, introducing children to families, movement of children from the place of temporary care to adoptive parents’ care, that came to a total standstill.”
The lockdown had a psychological impact on the children who had to wait longer before they could be united with their families. “Keeping in mind that children are already old, they’ve already had multiple losses and challenges. This is just another add–on on this timeframe in their lives and we all realise that especially those first two years, that’s your window of opportunity,” adds Pieterse.
She is, however, hopeful that as lockdown restrictions get eased, places of safety that are finding themselves having reached capacity, will find relief.
As more and more children get moved to their adoptive homes, other abandoned children can also be placed.
Despite the challenges faced by these places of safety for abandoned children and adoption agencies, Door of Hope has received unwarranted support from ordinary citizens. Grabham says: “Especially during level five and level four, generally we get donations from companies but because they were closed, we saw a drop in donations from churches, schools and corporates. However, we have seen an increase in donations from individuals and it’s actually so heart-warming, every cent helps and we’re very grateful because they’ve helped us to care for our babies and our staff.”
The non-profit organisation relies on funding from the department of social development and donations from organisations and individuals. – Health-e News
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