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Adopted? Where to find information

Any person who has been adopted and is over the age of 18 years old can search for their biological parents.

If however you are between 18 and 21, you will need to have your adoptive parents’ written permission. If you are over 21 you can search without your adoptive parents’ permission.

For more information:

Registrar of Adoptions, Department of Social Development

Private Bag X901, Pretoria, 0001  Tel: 012 – 312 7608

Fax: 086 2146790

Mrs Marikie Botha 

More information can be found at the Department for Social Development

You will need to provide her with your full name and ID Number, your current Address as well as the names of your adoptive parents.

Things you need to know first:

Be advised that the Section 248 (1) of the Children’s Act (Act No 38 of 2005) prescribes that the information contained in the adoption register may not be disclosed to any person, except-

(a)  to an adopted child after the child has reached the age of 18 years

(b)  to the adoptive parent of an adopted child after the child has reached the age of 18 years

(c)  to the biological parents or previous adoptive parent of an adopted child after the child has reached the age of 18 years , but only if the adoptive parent and the adopted child gives consent in writing.

(d) for any official purposes subject to conditions determined by the Director General.

(e)  by an order of Court, if the court finds that such information is in the best interest of the adopted child

(f)  for purpose of research provided that no information that would reveal the identity of an adopted child or his adoptive or biological parent revealed

Major Welfare Adoption Agencies

ACVV (Afrikaanse Christelike Vroue Vereeniging) 61 Caledon Street, Zonnebloem, Cape Town, 8001 Tel: 021 461 7437 Fax: 021 461 0074


The former Diakonale Dienste amalgamated with the former Christelike Maatskaplike Raad (CMR) 11 Pastorie Street, or Private Bag X8, Bellville, 7535 Tel: 021 957 7130 Fax: 021 957 7131 Email

Child Welfare Adoption Centre

(formerly at 31 Eden Road, Claremont, 7700) (associated with Cape Town Child Welfare) 13 Electric Road, Wynberg, 7800 Tel: 021 761 7130 Fax: 021 797 3390


(Cape Flats Development Association) Corner Retreat Road and Prince George Drive, Retreat, 7945 PO Box 211, Retreat, 7965 Tel: 021 706 2050 Fax: 021 706 0756 Email


2 Roggebaai Square, Cape Town, 8001 or PO Box 259, Cape Town, 8000 Tel: 021 421 6008 Fax. 021 421 6094 Contact Communicare Community Development Centres for fostering services.

Jewish Community Services

9 Gorge Road, Highlands, 8001 Tel: 021 462 5520 Fax. 021 462 5866

Recommended Adoption Councilors

Irene Berman in Constantia Tel: 021-794-4287 or 794 3102

Eileen Jordaan in Pinelands Tel: 021 -531-2858 Kay Fermo in Pretoria Tel: 011- 883-1527, Kaye deals with Child Welfare Society, Cotlands and Princess Alice Pretoria.

Access to Records

Biological parents can only have access to the adoption records if the adoptive parents and the child give their written consent. If they refuse, the biological parents can leave their details in the file so that they can be contacted if the adoptive parents or child change their minds. The identity of the parties cannot be made known. For example, medical information can be made available to a doctor.

Before you can start the search it is suggested that the adopted person to receive counseling by a social worker or professional who deals in adoption issues.
This is necessary for the adopted person to prepare for the unforeseen.

There are many scenarios that one has to consider why counseling is so important:

If the adoptions were done by the Johannesburg Child & Family Welfare Society or Princess Alice Adoption Home you should contact Kaye Fermo .

She can sometimes assist adoptee’s who were adopted from Cotlands and can assist if the Catholic Women’s League is too busy to handle their inquiries. Of course she would have to liaise with the Social Worker at Catholic Adoptions first.

It is unwise for an adopted person to look for the mother himself. It is better for all concerned if they go through a Social Worker who can pave the way for them. The Social Worker can offer counseling to both the adopted person and birth mother and can assist in putting the two together.

It is highly traumatic for a mother suddenly to be confronted by the adopted person although she may have been longing for that to happen for years. Both sides need a bit of preparation.

Reasons why not to contact your family without counselling

  • The biological parent s happily married and has never told her spouse or her children – how is her family going to deal with this?
  • She might not want to meet you – this is a very real problem
  • Your birth might have been the product of a bad relationship, rape or anything that your mother might not wish to disclose.
  • There is always a reason why a baby is given up for adoption and this is something that never leaves the mother and this is something that the adopted child feels hard to accept.
  • The feeling on abandonment and being unwanted it a very real and difficult issue to deal with.

First things first

The first thing ones needs to do is to determine is where they were born and which adoption agency handled their adoption and then it is better to go straight to that agency which handled the adoption.

The agencies are supposed to, by law; keep their adoption records for 70 years. If they were adopted in East London then the best place to go is to the agency in East London.

If they are not sure they should contact the Registrar of Adoptions in Pretoria as she has a record of all the adoptions which have taken place in South Africa.

They have to give the Registrar their ID number and the names of their adoptive parents and where the adoptive parents lived when they were adopted. Adoption records are kept for 70 years and are the initial source of information. The records are kept with the Registrar of Adoptions in Pretoria.

The following records are kept:

  • The consent form
  • The adoptive parents’ application
  • The social worker’s report on the adoptive parents
  • The social worker’s report on the birth parents (if it exists).
  • Specific information regarding an adoption may be given to any person at the discretion of the Registrar.
  • One can also ask the Registrar to look for their birth mother for them but the Registrar is extremely busy and the investigation takes at least a year.

Find out how one of our readers found their birth mother.

Ancestry24 also has a Forum  Board for anyone to post a message regarding “seeking adoption” family members.