ZIMBABWEANS seem to be embracing the concept of adoption as a form of parenting following rigorous awareness campaigns by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to demystify misconceptions surrounding the practice.
By Michael Gwarisa recently in Mutare
Presenting at the REPSSI organised Journalists Orientation workshop on Child reporting in Mutare, Child Protection Officer in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Mrs Patience Nhire said the Zimbabwean society was slowly moving away from traditional negative beliefs against adoption.
In the past, adoption used to be taboo in Zimbabwe as a result of misconceptions and myths around the practice. Raising a stranger as your own child, whose origin you are not aware of in our society attracts some spiritual connotations where people believe such as move would anger the gods and attract evil spirits such as Ngozi (avenging spirits), we have those myths in our society.
“However, we embarked on massive awareness campaigns between 2014 and 2015 where we wanted to demystify these misconceptions. We have been working with media that is Radio Television, and Newspapers in raising awareness on the advantages of adoption as well as trying to erase myths associated with adoption. Up to now, a week hardly goes by without getting applications for adoption,” said Mrs Nhire.
She however castigated unscrupulous Zimbabweans in the diaspora who want to abuse the adoption facility for commercial reasons.
“There is however another ugly trend that is developing where Zimbabweans in the diaspora especially in countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and others, because of the benefits that come with having children in those countries, they are now coming back home to apply for adoption.
“The benefits that come with having children include free education, free healthcare and services and they are coming wanting to adopt for commercial reasons. As the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, we do not encourage people to adopt children for commercial purposes and for the sake of getting benefits.”
She also said government asses the situation and has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a family whether from the diaspora or locally is really in need of a child before releasing.
In 2017, Social Welfare received and processed a total of 30 adoption applications from January 2015 to December 2017.
There are types of adoption that include de facto, whereby a couple jointly adopts a child belonging to the other spouse or is related to the other spouse, that is, where there is some prohibitive degree of consanguinity between the adopters and the child. Under the non de facto adoption type, a couple or an individual adopts a complete stranger.
In Zimbabwe, as a way to ensure a child is not adopted by people with ulterior intentions, adoption requires extensive initial screening and court procedures. To be eligible to adopt in Zimbabwe, parents should adhere to the Children’s Act (Chapter 5:06) Sections 57 to 75 which provide for the manner in which adoptions are carried out.