Views of social workers on trans-racial adoptions of abandoned children

Doubell, Lara Susan (2014-12)

Thesis (M Social Work)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Thousands of children are being abandoned in South Africa each year, consequently entering the child-care and protection system. The Children’s Act 38 of 2005, which governs all practices involving children in South Africa, clearly advocates for adoption as the superior form of intervention in cases of abandonment. Yet adoption continues to be one of the most under-utilised childcare practices in South Africa, especially by the black, majority population. This is unfortunately despite the fact that most of the adoptable children are from the black population group. This study therefore aimed to investigate the views of adoption social workers regarding the practice of trans-racial adoptions of abandoned children. Both quantitative and qualitative approaches were employed for this study. A combination of exploratory and descriptive research designs was utilised as the framework for the research approach. Data was collected by means of a semi-structured interview schedule, which was conducted during personal interviews with social work professionals. The findings of the empirical investigation revealed that according to the views of the social workers under-graduate social work training was largely inadequate in preparing social workers to work in the field of adoption. It was also found that social workers felt that the importance of permanency planning in all work with children was not comprehensively explored during under-graduate studies. Findings further indicated that trans-racial adoption is viewed positively amongst adoption social workers, and is regarded as the far superior alternative to foster-care or institutional care for children who have been abandoned. It was however found that in cases of abandonment, adoption might be an under-utilised option amongst child-protection workers. Children available for adoption were reported as being predominantly from the black population group, while it was indicated that the majority of parents wanting to adopt are from the white community. In line with this, it was noted that there are not many prospective adoptive parents from the black community. Of significance was therefore the finding that very few adoption organisations have active recruitment programmes focused on recruiting black adoptive parents, inevitably bringing trans-racial adoption to the fore. One of the most important recommendations of this study is therefore that adoption organisations should develop and implement recruitment programmes, which specifically target prospective black adopters in an effort to increase the potential pool of black adopters. In addition, the recommendations emphasised the importance of adequate education of social workers in order to ensure that the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 is adequately understood and implemented in cases of abandonment. Ensuring that social workers move towards adoption as fast as possible in cases of abandonment can not only increase the chances of the child being adopted, but can also help to prevent developmental problems associated with institutional care.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Duisende kinders word jaarliks in Suid-Afrika deur hulle ouers verlaat (“abandon”), en betree gevolglik die kindersorg en beskermingsisteem. Die Kinderwet 38 van 2005, wat alle praktyke rakende kinders in Suid Afrika reguleer, promoveer duidelik aanneming as die beste vorm van intervensie in gevalle van kinderverlating. Steeds bly aanneming egter een van die mees onderbenutte kindersorg praktyke in Suid-Afrika, veral onder die swart meerderheidsbevolking. Dit ten spyte van die feit dat meeste aanneembare kinders uit die swart bevolkingsgroep kom. Hierdie studie was daarop gemik om die menings van aannemings-maatskaplike werkers rakende die praktyk van inter-ras aannemings van kinders wat deur hulle ouers verlaat is te ondersoek. Beide kwantitatiewe en kwalitatiewe benaderings is toegepas vir hierdie studie. ‘n Kombinasie van ondersoekende en beskrywende navorsingsontwerpe is gebruik as die raamwerk vir die navorsingsbenadering. Data is versamel deur middel van ‘n semi-gestruktureerde onderhoud skedule wat uitgevoer is tydens persoonlike onderhoude met maatskaplike werkers. Die empiriese ondersoek het bevind dat die maatskaplike werkers van mening was dat voorgraadse opleiding in maatskaplike werk grootliks onvoldoende was om maatskaplike werkers voor te berei vir werk op die gebied van aanneming. Daar is ook bevind dat maatskaplike werkers die standpunt huldig dat die belangrikheid van permanensie-beplanning in alle werk met kinders nie omvattend verken is tydens voorgraadse studies nie. Verdere bevinding dui daarop dat inter-ras aanneming positief beskou word deur aannemings-maatskaplike werkers en dat dit by verre as die beste alternatief tot pleegsorg of institisionele sorg vir kinders wat deur hulle ouers verlaat is, beskou word. Daar is egter bevind dat in gevalle van kinderverlating die opsie van aanneming onderbenut mag wees deur kinderbeskermings werkers. Daar is aangedui dat kinders wat beskikbaar is vir aanneming grootliks uit die swart meerderheids bevolkingsgroep kom, terwyl daar ook aangedui is dat die meerderheid van ouers wat kinders wil aanneem uit die wit gemeenskap kom. Daar is aangedui dat min van die prospektiewe aannemings ouers uit die swart gemeenskap kom. ‘n Betekenisvolle bevinding was gevolglik dat baie min aannemings-organisasies aktiewe werwingsprogramme het wat daarop fokus om swart aannemingsouers te werf, wat noodwendig inter-ras aanneming na vore bring. Een van die belangrikste aanbevelings van hierdie studie is dus dat aannemings-organisasies werwingsprogramme moet ontwikkel en implementeer wat spesifiek prospektiewe swart aannemers teiken in ‘n poging om die poel van swart aannemers te vergroot. Verder beklemtoon die aanbevelings die belangrikheid van voldoende opleiding van maatskaplike werkers ten einde te verseker dat die Kinderwet 38 van 2005 voldoende verstaan word en geïmplementeer word in gevalle van kinderverlating. Deur toe te sien dat maatskaplike werkers so gou moontlik beweeg na aanneming in gevalle van kinderverlating verbeter nie slegs die kind se kans om aangeneem te word nie, maar dit kan ook help om die ontwikkelingsprobleme geassosieer met institusionele versorging te voorkom.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/95916
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