Durban - A Durban granny went to the high court on Friday to stop her drug-addicted daughter removing her grandchild from her care so that she could be adopted by a relative in Saudi Arabia.
The granny has until now been virtually the sole caregiver of the 15-month-old girl, but says recently “large amounts of money” have been deposited into a bank account in the toddler’s name which, she assumes, are for travel and passport costs for a proposed adoption by her own sister and her husband, who recently moved from Australia to Saudi Arabia.
Although the parents of the child indicated that they would oppose the application, they were not present in court when it was called before Acting Judge Guido Penzhorn.
Advocate Sian Clarence, acting for the grandmother, said that the couple had given her instructing attorney, Shaz Bartlett, a copy of what purported to be a parental rights and responsibilities agreement between them and the Saudi Arabian couple, but this had only been stamped by the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court and was not an order of the high court, as was required.
Judge Penzhorn granted an order declaring the grandmother a co-holder of parental rights and responsibilities and interdicting the biological parents from removing the child from her care or from concluding any adoption agreements.
In her affidavit, the grandmother – who cannot be named to protect the child’s identity – says she has looked after her full-time since February this year following an agreement reached with her daughter and the child’s father.
“This was because they both have drug and health problems. My daughter also has post-natal depression and a borderline personality disorder for which she is receiving psychological and psychiatric assistance. The father has a drug problem and has not yet maintained sobriety.”
Although they were entitled to “limited contact” with the child, they had barely seen her, with the mother visiting four times and the father just once, and during the visit, he was apparently drunk. The granny said when the child was just 10 weeks old, her daughter had to be admitted to hospital and then to a rehabilitation centre as she could not cope.
“Neither of them wish to have the child live with them or be involved in her life. And now they are attempting to negotiate for her to be adopted by my sister who only visited South Africa for four weeks earlier this year, the first and only time she has had any interaction with the child.
“My sister is 58 and has grown-up sons in their thirties. I am completely shocked at the suggestion and told my sister so. This has resulted in our relationship becoming acrimonious.”
After speaking to a social worker the granny suggested that perhaps the child should be adopted by a young family friend involved in a long-term relationship and who had no children. But she said this was rejected by her daughter who wanted the child to go overseas to be adopted by her sister.
The granny said her sister’s husband was now depositing money into a bank account in the little girl’s name, which suggested they were proceeding with the adoption.
“My home is a happy and stable one and I believe it is in her best interests to stay with me. She has no relationship with my sister,” she said.
The Family Advocate was ordered to investigate the matter and report back to the court on December 7.