Parenting / 1 March 2012, 1:21pm / Noor-Jehan Yoro Badat
More women are not letting their single status deter them from parenthood. Three single women who adopted tell their stories...
Financial adviser Baisi Mosoane-Pambo, 50, has a biological son, Sandile, 16, and an adopted daughter, Ayanda, seven.
I always wanted to have two children, especially a little girl. And when he was younger, my son, Sandile, always said he wanted to have a sibling.
But I wasn’t in a relationship. And, even if I decided to get pregnant, there was no guarantee that I’d get a girl.
The idea of adopting first came when Sandile was following the life of Nkosi Johnson closely. He was curious to know why Nkosi’s mother was white. I told him that Nkosi was adopted.
When Nkosi passed on, Sandile was so sad about it. So I suggested to him the idea of adopting a child. He loved it.
My brother’s death had also hit home – he was my only sibling. If anything happened to me, my son would be all alone. So I craved having a baby.
I decided to go to the Child Welfare office in Fox Street, Joburg, to enquire about the procedure and whether they allowed single mothers to adopt.
I filled in the forms and attended a session on the adoption process. At the session, there were 23 of us, and just three of us were single.
I also had a one-on-one counselling session. I was assigned a social worker. She came to check my home and to interview my friends.
After the visit and passing the medical tests, it was a matter of waiting. I waited for a year and eight months because I specifically wanted a healthy girl up to the age of three months. I almost gave up. It seems there were no girls being born, only boys.
Then, on August 3, 2004, the social worker phoned me. There was a baby for me. I was so excited. Early the next morning, I accompanied the social worker to Ethembeni Home in Doornfontein. When they brought her to me, we just clicked. I fell in love immediately.
But I couldn’t take her home just then as her papers needed to be finalised in court. I told Sandile about her and he couldn’t wait. We went to Woolies to buy all the necessary stuff; fortunately I had kept Sandile’s cot and pram.
Ayanda was three months old when I adopted her on August 11. This changed our lives for ever. My son would sleep next to her, they bathed together and he even helped change her nappies. It was the best thing that has happened to me.
I introduced Ayanda to my friends from varsity. They were surprised, and asked me when I had given birth. I told them about the adoption process. I said that we complained that there were so many black children up for adoption, but what were we doing about it. Were we just going to leave it all to the white people to adopt? We had also better do it ourselves. This motivated them, in a way, because some are now adopting children, which is great.
We do have that culture of not adopting because the child is not seen as one’s own blood. It’s more open now, but a few years ago adoption in the black community was not an open topic. A woman I met in the adoption group told me it was taboo for her. She had to pretend to be pregnant by padding her stomach until she could adopt a baby. Some women were adopting, but kept quiet about it.
My mom was very supportive.
I didn’t fear raising a child alone because I had done it with my son. But when Ayanda came along, I had just taken a retrenchment package. I was at home consulting and had no fixed income. I wanted to give her the same lifestyle that Sandile had. I trusted God, and I’ve managed.
I look at how I’ve given my daughter a second chance in life. There’s no man in my life and she has filled that gap.
I don’t hide anything from her. I tell her that she’s adopted. I didn’t want her hearing it from anyone else. I love her and she knows it. I treat her like I gave birth to her.
She loves the story of how she became my child. I tell her about her parents. I send pictures of her to Child Welfare, in case her biological parents are curious to know what she looks like.
I’ve prepared her psychologically and tell her that her parents didn’t abandon her, that they did this out of love because they couldn’t manage financially. One day she’ll want to see them. I’m okay with that.
I taught her from the beginning about love.
My advice to single women who are thinking of adopting is that it must come from the bottom of your hearts. Don’t be afraid to talk about it. Examine your life. Don’t do it because someone else has done it. The child will be stuck with you; you just can’t return her.
Single mother and HR executive Thandi*, 45, has two grown biological sons, and an adopted daughter, Lerato*, who’s four.
In 2007, our company was taking gifts to a children’s home. That’s when I saw Lerato in a small baby chair. I loved her immediately. She was two months old. She bore a striking resemblance to my family and something inside of me said she was the one. I knew then that I wanted to adopt her.
After work, I’d visit and put her to sleep. I told the home’s social worker that I was serious about adopting her. She said Lerato’s background was complicated – her biological parents were still alive and hadn’t been seen.
But she contacted the Roodepoort Child Welfare social worker to tell her that I wanted to adopt Lerato. A social worker came to my house and interviewed me and my sons. She wrote up a report, making a recommendation.
However, the parents had to be found so that they could give consent.
I continued visiting Lerato and was allowed to take her for weekends. When she was three months old, I was allowed to take her for a December holiday. It was difficult taking her back to the home. The social worker understood.
By some miracle, the social worker met Lerato’s parents when she was walking around town. She asked them to come to the office, and told them someone wanted to adopt their child.
The parents were aged 17 and 18. I learnt the mother also had a son. When I spoke to them, they asked me to foster Lerato instead. But I wanted her to be my child. After a week, they agreed and signed the papers. Lerato became mine in 2009, after her papers were processed.
I took her to my family in Rustenburg where they gave her a welcome party. They’d met Lerato when she was three months old and loved her. Initially they didn’t want to get attached in case it did not work out. I was always optimistic.
There were some who said adoption was taboo in black culture. Questions were asked about which tribe she came from. I was also told the ancestors wouldn’t know her. But I don’t believe in those things.
I gave them examples of people who’d gone through the process, and I told them these issues didn’t happen in white culture.
For me, it was a no-brainer. It depended on the upbringing of a child, teaching them Christian principles like other children in the family.
Besides, the minute they sat with my child, they just melted. Lerato has brought a different perspective in my life. She brings joy to everybody.
She’s a miracle child. The mother is HIV positive and, by God’s grace, the virus wasn’t transferred to Lerato.
I keep in touch with her mother. I’m going to tell Lerato, when the time is right, that she has biological parents and I’ll facilitate her meeting them. It’s important for her to know where she comes from, that she’s blessed that her mother ensured she wasn’t infected and would grow up in a warm, loving home.
* Names have been changed
Journalist Megan*, 42, adopted a little girl called Rose*, who is now three years old.
I always wanted kids. But I had had endometriosis and underwent a lot of surgery over the years. When I reached 38, still unmarried, I mulled over my options. Being financially stable, I knew I could provide for a child. Adoption was not an overnight decision; I thought about it on and off.
Then one day in August 2007, I woke up, went to work and called an adoption agency – Abba, a Christian-based organisation in Pretoria that I had heard about.
There was a strict psychometric assessment. I had a social worker, home visits and a week-long course I had to attend on adoption and interracial adoption. I also wrote a profile about myself, and my mother and sister wrote letters. The process took about six months. Then I waited for what seemed like for ever.
In September 2008 I got a call from a social worker. There was a baby – did I want her? I saw a picture of her. She had the cutest little mouth. I said yes. I adopted Rose in November 2008, when she was two and a half months old.
My mother and sister were so happy.
Rose changed my life in every way. She’s wonderful. She’s bright and sharp. She’s a drama queen and fits into my family well because we are drama queens. Sometimes I feel like I’m the adopted one. We fit together so well.
She’s more sociable than I am. I’d rather stay at home, while she likes to go shopping and engage in things. It’s nice to see the world through her eyes. She’s curious and loves being read to.
Like all single mothers, one of the difficulties I faced was not having enough time. It’s a balancing act with work. Some Sundays I work, so I make arrangements for her to stay with my mother, who’s great. If I work late, she fetches Rose at crèche and they entertain each other. My dad died six years ago, so Rose has filled a hole in her life.
Rose realises that she’s black and that I’m white. She just says she has dark skin and I have white, and that I don’t go out in the sun and only swim at night. I think she has organised stuff in her head. She’s confident. She has no issues.
I can’t predict the future – all I know is that she feels loved and accepted. She has brought so much joy to many people. I was warned that one day she will want to find her birth mother. It’s a reality that I’ll have to face. I just live in the moment and deal with the issues as they come along.
For me, this is not a charity issue of adopting a disadvantaged child. It’s a win-win situation for us. I wanted a child, she wanted a mother.
What made it for me is that her biological mother chose me among other women. One day I’ll tell her that she was not abandoned, that her mother chose me to raise her.