Factors that Motivate African Women in South Africa to Depart from Kinship Care to Legal Adoption of Non-Kin Children





grounded theory, motherhood, legal adoption, non-kin children, infertility, kinship care


For hundreds of adoptable African babies in South Africa, their right to be permanently raised in a loving family environment is not being realised because there are an inadequate number of adopters. To help deal with this child welfare challenge, a study was conducted in South Africa to investigate what factors affect the decision-making processes of Africans regarding the legal adoption of non-kin children, because only a small number choose the legal adoption trajectory to parenthood. To acquire this knowledge, the grounded theory research method of Corbin and Strauss was implemented. Data were gathered by personally interviewing five different cohorts of African participants; most being women. It was found that African women usually decide to legally adopt non-kin children because their desire to mother permanently is not realised when engaging in kinship care. The four main reasons they turn to legal adoption of non-kin children are: (1) legal adoption offers security because it is a permanent childcare arrangement; (2) legal adoption provides a sense of “ownership” because the adopter acquires full parental rights and responsibilities for raising the adopted child; (3) once accepting infertility, legal adoption can ease the psycho-emotional pain of infertility; and (4) the desire to nurture an infant can be realised through legal adoption. Recommendations for practice and future research regarding this phenomenon are discussed.


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Author Biographies

Priscilla Ann Gerrand, University of the Witwatersrand


Ajwang Warria, University of the Witwatersrand

Senior Lecturer

Social Work Department 



How to Cite

Gerrand, Priscilla Ann, and Ajwang' Warria. 2020. “Factors That Motivate African Women in South Africa to Depart from Kinship Care to Legal Adoption of Non-Kin Children”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 32 (2):18 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/2415-5829/6537.



Received 2019-07-05
Accepted 2020-04-29
Published 2020-07-06