Openhearted Adoption in South Africa: “Complicated, Beautiful and Messy”


Openness in Adoption is often thought to reference the nature of contact between adoptees and their biological families but it is about more than just this. Openness references the attitude and way in which families engage with all aspects of adoption: how we talk about adoption, to our children as well as outside of our home; how we engage with the fullness of who our children are – their race, roots and traits which may well reflect their biological families such as a particular interest or aptitude – and how we create space to engage with this. 

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Race: Talking to Your Children


Global headlines are currently dominated by race – the death of George Floyd but also the death of Collins Khosa and ten others who died during the initial months of South Africa’s lockdown have all led to a greater awareness of racial injustice. Conversations seem to finally be happening, and they need to continue to happen. These conversations are ones that happen often around Arise’s conference table, and if you have ever attended an Arise workshop addressing Race, Identity and Transracial Adoption, the following should be familiar:

Raising children in a race conscious world requires conscious thought and deliberate action on the part of parents.

Children, COVID-19 and Consequences – A Reflection in Child Protection Month


We have all been impacted by this pandemic. For some of us it is the burden of working from home while managing crisis schooling, for others it is the worry over lost income and businesses we’ve built up over years. Our frontline families face uncertainty and anxiety as they wait for the approaching wave of patients while for others it is their very physical health that is at stake. We are all in a storm, paddling furiously to keep our heads above the water. We acknowledge this but we know too that we are not all in the same boat.  Our work at Arise as well as continuous ground level research shows us that this pandemic is set to have long-term consequences particularly for the children in our marginalised communities.

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Finding the Opportunity in the COVID-19 Crisis


The COVID-19 crisis has done what all crises do – it’s stripped away many of the masks or veils that existed in day-to-day spaces.  It has magnified the strengths, opportunities and challenges that exist within our personal spaces, as well as in our communities – regardless of whether our community is well-resourced or struggling in this time. The Chinese word for crisis is often cited in motivational speaking: it’s made up of two characters, Wei which means danger and Ji which means opportunity. Both are playing out in this pandemic.    

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How to Breathe Out While in Lockdown


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We often remind each other to breathe in during times of stress and anxiety. What we forget to check is whether we are breathing out as well.  Breathing out is important. Without releasing our breath, we can’t take in fresh air, we can’t move, and our bodies remain stressed and anxious, making It harder to think creatively or solve problems. When we are managing laundry, deadlines, children, meal plans and mess, we can lose touch and forget to breathe out!  This has never been truer than in our current state of lockdown.

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Family Forum: Where Heartaches and Hope Meet Over a Cup of Tea


Parenting is said to be one of the most rewarding parts of being in family. It’s also one of the hardest parts of being in family. Our children are growing up with challenges and dynamics that none of us had to face. When we combine that with the social and economic challenges, being a parent can feel totally overwhelming. Especially when we are being asked to do things differently to what we know.

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Whose Child is Next? An Open Letter to Cyril Ramaphosa


Dear Mr. President,

Why are you so silent? Is the senseless murder of the young Tazne Van Wyk just another South African statistic? How many children and women must die such violent and senseless deaths for the government to wake up and say, “We have to protect the most vulnerable in our society.” Our children are the future and yet they are growing up scared and traumatised, living inside their homes as it isn’t safe to play cricket or soccer outside in the streets. They’re too scared to go and buy a packet of Niknaks because someone could take them and they may never be seen again. The pain we cry as a nation is, “Whose child is next?”

It’s Not My Story to Tell – How to Avoid Oversharing as an Adoptive Parent


Imagine something that is private for you – it might be something that is sacred, something that is painful or something that is complicated and not yet resolved. You choose to share this private story, in confidence with someone else. It’s something that has been shared with the other person with the understanding that they will safeguard it for you. You might speak about it, you might be very selective about who you share this with or you might realize that there are parts you feel free to share and others you don’t.

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Strong Families, Strong Communities


What is family in South Africa?

Not all families look the same.  International research shows that our country is unique by the extent in which parents are absent from their children’s daily lives. Recent studies have shown that over 20% of South African children do not live with both biological parents and up to 57% of children have absent fathers. Many of our families consist of female-headed households, child-headed households, and combinations of families with aunts, uncles and their children all living together.

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