Many children in South Africa are now waiting for a permanent, loving family.
In South Africa, children waiting for families are typically between 2-8 years old at the time they join their adoptive families and have minor to major developmental, physical or emotional special needs. Holt is one of three U.S. adoption agencies approved to unite children from South Africa with eligible families in the U.S. Alongside our partner Wandisa — a well-respected and child-centered organization local to South Africa — we will work to ensure you feel informed and prepared every step of the way.
Children in South Africa Who Need Families
Children have minor to major developmental, physical or emotional special needs.
Most children are between the ages of 2-8 years old at the time of placement.
Older children (5+) who may or may not have special needs other than age are also waiting to be matched with families.
Children may have been born prematurely, have a history of abuse or neglect, or be malnourished.
The most common needs among children in South Africa include HIV, fetal alcohol exposure and needs related to the trauma and loss they’ve experienced. Children with more involved special needs are also waiting for families through Holt’s waiting child photolisting.
Meet the children waiting for a family
To preserve children’s confidentiality, you will be asked to log in or sign up before you access the waiting child photolisting.
Eligibility Requirements to Adopt from South Africa
Applicants should be couples or singles between the ages of 25-49 years old.
There should be no more than a 45-year age difference between the parent and child.
Length of Marriage
If married or in a committed life partnership, couples must be together for a minimum of one year and be assessed to have a stable relationship.
If there is a history of divorce, the current marriage must be at least two years old.
Children in Family
If you have five or more children living in your home, please check with Holt before applying.
Single female and male individuals are eligible.
Each prospective parent is required to travel to South Africa to meet and transition the child into their care.
Each prospective parent is then required to appear in court for the adoption application and will be required to sign the child’s South African passport application.
Currently, the required stay in-country for prospective parents is approximately 10-12 weeks.
For couples, it is possible that one parent may return home after applying for the child’s South African passport at Home Affairs, which occurs approximately eight weeks after arrival in South Africa.
One parent may return home only if excused from the consulate visa interview and the other parent remains in-country with the child.
At least one parent should expect to stay in South Africa for approximately 10-12 weeks.
How Long It Takes
From the time an applicant submits a dossier to the South African Central Authority, it’s estimated to take approximately 1-3 years to complete their adoption.
The timeline can vary based on a family’s openness to age and special needs.
When applying to adopt a waiting child, an applicant may wait a shorter amount of time to receive an official referral, and the time from application to placement may also be shorter.
Waiting Child Program
Many children who are older or have more involved special needs are waiting for adoptive families.
Applicants may be matched with a waiting child once they have an approved homestudy.
Please contact Holt’s South Africa team if you have any questions.
Applicants with a past or current diagnosis of a life-threatening or communicable disease, or other condition that impairs their ability to parent and/or affects the quality of life of a child, are ineligible to adopt.
All prior criminal activity must be disclosed, including any arrests, even if it did not result in conviction or the conviction was expunged.
Applicants will be assessed for eligibility approval by Holt staff, in conjunction with our overseas partner, on a case-by-case basis.
At least one applicant must be a United States citizen.
Fees for South Africa Adoption
We are open and transparent about our fees and want you to be aware of all potential costs involved in an adoption, including third-party costs and travel.
Holt is a Christian, private, nonprofit, licensed and accredited child welfare and family service organization. Our adoption work is entirely financed through adoption fees and donations. It is not government subsidized. We believe that children are the highest priority, and we want as many children as possible to have families. To that end, we strive to keep our fees within a reasonable range. All fees are subject to change and are charged at the rate that is current at time of billing. Holt may increase fees if adoption expenses in the foreign country increase substantially after time of application. Families will be notified in writing of any fee increase. Holt International accepts the following for adoption fees: check, cashier’s check or money order. If you would like to pay by credit card, there will be a 3% convenience fee added to your total. Fees due upon invoice.
Due when you accept the assignment of a child. In the case of siblings, Agency Fee 3 is increased by $3,815 per child and an additional $3,500 pass-through fee is billed.
Agency Fee 3
Program Fee 2
Foreign Country Program Expenses
Foreign Country Fee Pass-Through 2 – Wandisa
Translation and Documentation Expenses
$1,540 – $2,665*
Post Adoption Reports (if Holt provides)
Post Adoption Reports
Travel for Home Visits (if Holt provides)
Additional Fees to Anticipate
$860 – $1,330
Adoption Education Classes
$150 – $500
Dossier Preparation (per child)
$700 – $1,200
Dossier Legal Fees (per child)
Pre-Adoption Medical Review of Child Material
$250 – $1,000
Required Documents In Country (photos for visa, immigrant medical, passport, birth certificate, etc.)
Potential additional medical exams for child in country (as needed for other possible fees for assessments, counseling and/or remediation dependent on the needs of your child)
$0 – $602*
Foreign Country Program Expenses for Travel Expenses possible one-time Fee if child(ren) resides outside of Somerset West area.
$0 – $435*
Airfare, Lodging, Meals & Transportation
$12,000 – $15,000
Summary of Estimated Fees
$1,500 – $5,000
Foreign Country Program Expenses
Care of the Child
Translation and Documents Expenses
$3,434 – $4,559
Post Adoption Reports
$1,500 – $3,000
Third Party Fees
$10,599 – $13,706
Travel and Accommodation Expenses
$12,000 – $15,000
$53,466 – $65,698
* These fees are paid in SA Rand and the exact amount will vary depending on the exchange rate. Conversion from Rand to USD will be calculated on the invoice date based on current exchange rates.
++ As a courtesy families may choose to pay Holt these fees. Holt can wire fees to legal representative if paid by check. Holt is strictly a liaison for the payment and not responsible for services rendered.
Agency Fees are non-refundable.
Program Fees are non-refundable
Foreign Country Fee Pass Through – 100% refundable until tendered to Wandisa
Post Placement Reporting Fees are refundable if not required
Any fee refund will be processed within 60 days.
Financial Assistance for Adoption
Holt believes finances should not stop a child from having a loving family. Although many resources exist to help adoptive families offset the cost of adoption, it’s not always clear where to start looking or what opportunities are best suited for your family. To help you consider all your options, Holt provides an outline of financial assistance, as well as a list of resources categorized by type.
Families adopting through Holt receive free, professional guidance and support from a one-on-one finance coach throughout their adoption process. Even if you’re just considering adoption, email us to set up your first consultation today!
This is an often misunderstood term in adoption because it doesn’t necessarily indicate that a child has physical or developmental disabilities. Many children with special needs are either older than 5, part of a sibling group, or have moderate physical, developmental or emotional health needs. Most South African children who are waiting for adoptive families have experienced some degree of trauma, and families will need to be prepared to parent a child with complex needs.
How long does it take to adopt from South Africa?
We estimate the time frame for a South African adoption to be 1-3 years, from the time your dossier is registered in South Africa until a child joins your family. Time frames vary depending on an applicant’s level of openness to special needs and age of the child. Families who are open to waiting children on the photolisting may have a shorter adoption process.
Couples and singles are required to travel to South Africa and should expect to stay approximately 10-12 weeks. For couples, it is possible that one parent may return home after applying for the child’s South African passport at Home Affairs, which occurs approximately eight weeks after their arrival in South Africa.
Help Protect International Adoption for Children
Your gift today will help a child be adopted, care for them while they wait, and even ensure that they receive critical post-adoption help for life!
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Around the world, so many children are growing up without families to love them and nurture their growth. And so many families are waiting with love to give. It is our mission to bring you together as you consider growing your family and providing a loving home to a child in need.
We look forward to assisting you in your adoption journey.
Holt International is a Hague-accredited agency with adoption programs in these locations: