1. Open to Adoptive Parents of all Backgrounds

South Africa is open to all types of adoptive parents– single men & women, married and unmarried couples, and LGBTQ parents. The South Africa government is committed to a practice of non-discrimination and we’ve seen this be true in our adoption program as married couples, LGBTQ parents, as well as single parents have adopted! It truly is about finding the right parent(s) for a child!

2. Common Medical Needs

There are thousands of children waiting for adoption in South Africa. Many of the children have special needs and require an adoptive family ready and excited to help them thrive! Families considering adopting a child with special needs have many questions, including what are the most common diagnoses? Here are the most common medical needs as seen by Spence-Chapin, one of two American agencies accredited to provide adoption services in South Africa.

  • HIV
  • Prematurity
  • Developmental delays
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Auditory impairments
  • Visual impairments
  • Cognitive limitations
  • Brain abnormalities
  • Macrocephaly
  • Microcephaly


3. Rich and Diverse History

South Africa is a diverse place with many cultures and people of different races and ethnicities living throughout the country. The major cities are offer economic opportunity for people around the world and have large immigrant populations from within Africa, Asia, and Europe. There are many official languages, including English. Families adopting a South African child bring a rich and diverse history into their family. Families adopting through Spence-Chapin, one of two American agencies accredited to provide adoption services in South Africa, take day-trips to experience and learn about South African culture and history during their trip to finalize the adoption. It is important to for adoptive families to have the opportunity to learn about the child’s birth culture. One of South Africa’s official languages is English which means it’s relatively easy for American families to communicate during their trip to South Africa!

4. There are children who are HIV+ in need of adoption

There are thousands of children in South Africa living with HIV. Many prospective adoptive families have appropriate concerns about the prognosis and treatment for a child with HIV. Parents should assess themselves and their community before moving forward; for example:

Are there expert medical resources nearby?

What are the states laws protecting a person who is HIV+ from discrimination?

Can your family commit to the treatment regimen?

Some of children in South Africa have access to quality medical care before adoption. Spence-Chapin partners with Johannesburg Child Welfare (JCW). The children living in JCW’s care are cared for in nurseries with caring staff. JCW partners with a Thusanani Children’s Foundation to provide safe and modern medical care to ensure each child receives the medical care they need – HIV testing and treatment, occupational therapy, physical therapy, antibiotics, surgery, well-baby visits, etc.

5. Hague Adoption Process

South Africa is signatory to the Hague Treaty on Intercountry Adoption so adoptive families have the benefits of the Hague Treaty, which is designed to ensure that international adoption is a transparent, ethical process with an established infrastructure to protect and support children and families.



Spence-Chapin is a full-service, non-profit, accredited organization providing adoption and adoption related services for over 100 years. In addition to Domestic, International, and Special Needs adoption programs, Spence-Chapin provides robust post-adoption support for all members of the adoption community. Email them at info@spence-chapin.org to learn more!

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