Adopt from South Africa

SPENCE-CHAPIN BEGAN ITS ADOPTION PROGRAM IN SOUTH AFRICA IN 2013. We partner with Johannesburg Child Welfare Society (JCW), a social service organization serving Johannesburg families since 1909. Spence-Chapin’s adoption program finds families for young children with special needs and sibling groups. 

South Africa is a Hague Convention Country. South Africa’s Central Authority that is responsible for all intercountry adoption matters is the Department of Social Development. Spence-Chapin’s foreign supervised provider in South Africa is Johannesburg Child Welfare. 

In South Africa, applicants to adopt must meet the following criteria: 

  • Age: Up to 48. Applicants over 48 should consult with Spence-Chapin.

  • Marital Status: Both heterosexual and homosexual married and unmarried couples as well as single men and women. Married couples who have not been married for at least 3 years should consult with Spence-Chapin.

  • Family Composition: Families with 4 or more children will not be eligible to adopt from South Africa. South Africa requires that families adopt within birth order.

  • Medical: Identified medical conditions, including mental health diagnosis, will be considered on a case by case basis by the country’s Central Authority, the Department of Social Development.

Characteristics of children available for intercountry adoption: 

  • Gender: Male and Female*

  • Race/Ethnicity: Black South African, Zulu, Xhosa*

  • Ages: 0-10 years old at the time of referral.

  • Sibling groups: Siblings usually are not in need of intercountry adoption from South Africa.

  • Special Characteristics: All children placed through this program have special needs. The following needs have been identified by our foreign supervised provider as the most common needs of children waiting for adoption from South Africa: HIV and unknown or unpredictable developmental delays.

*Families are not permitted to gender or race specify. 

Predicted wait time to be matched with a child: 

  • Approximately 18-24 months after dossier submission.


  • In order to complete the adoption process, families must make one trip to South Africa of approximately 4-6 weeks in length. Couples must both travel to country and be present for finalization.


Chris and Mary share their story of adopting their daughter from South Africa here.


Humanitarian Aid

In April 2011, we were delighted to open our first Granny Program in Africa at JCW’s Othandweni Family Care Center in Soweto. READ MORE

Read the Department of State adoption alerts about South Africa here.