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Inter-country adoptions can offer relief
2009-08-12

 
At the occasion were, in the front: Prof. Hennie Oosthuizen, head of the Department of Criminal and Medical Law, UFS; back: Adv. Mariëtte Reyneke, head of the Unit for Children’s Rights and senior lecturer in the Department of Law of Procedure and Law of Evidence, UFS, Judge of Appeal Belinda van Heerden, and Adv. Beatri Kruger, also from the Unit for Children’s Rights and senior lecturer in the Department of Criminal and Medical Law, UFS.
Photo: Stephen Collett 


Inter-country adoptions must not be taken lightly; however, in some instances it is suitable and can bring relief to a child. These were the words of Katinka Pieterse from Abba Adoptions, which specialises in inter-country adoptions.

She was one of the expert presenters at a recent workshop on inter-country adoptions that was recently presented by the Unit for Children’s rights in the Department of Criminal and Medical Law in the Faculty of Law at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Judge of Appeal Belinda van Heerden, an expert in the field of Child and Family Law, gave an overview as well as a Southern African perspective on this controversial topic. The Hague Convention sets international standards to protect children from the inherent dangers that accompany inter-country adoptions. The South African law must be aligned with these international standards by incorporating specific stipulations as well as the Hague Convention into legislation applicable to children. There must also be acted in the best interest of the child, said Judge van Heerden. The authorities have safety measures in place to protect children from these dangers. The starting point remains that inter-country adoptions are only considered once one cannot find suitable care in the country of origin.

Prof. Sheryl Buske from the Charlotte School of Law, North Carolina in the United States of America in particular emphasised the dangers of human trafficking that can take place when inter-country adoptions do not adhere to international safety standards. She also pointed out new developments such as the role of surrogate mothers and the adoption of embryos.

The workshop was attended by a large variety of role players, varying from academics, lawyers, social workers, non-governmental organisations, law students and representatives from governmental institutions. Consequently, light was shed on the topic from a number of angles which will be of value to the respective role players. Jurists from Lesotho also expressed their gratitude for the insight they received.

The workshop was of great value to the university because it served the community with expert presentations on this new and sensitive topic. The guidelines and pitfalls that were discussed and pointed out at the workshop cleared uncertainties and brought new insight to the different professions and role players in the field. Furthermore, the bond between the academia and practice were developed and strengthened by the establishment of further cooperation between the parties.

Media Release:
Lacea Loader
Deputy Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
11 August 2009

 

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