Stories of faith | Finding forever family

Katinka Pieterse has been a Hatfield member since childhood and has dedicated her life to helping others. One of her frontline roles, for the last 14 years, is serving as the director of Abba Specialist Adoption & Social Services, one of our Faith Promise Partner Ministries. A wife, mother, godmother, aunt, friend, and colleague, Katinka describes herself as “most importantly a child of our heavenly Father.”

As a social worker in child protection and adoptions for over 30 years, Kantinka has always wanted to make a meaningful difference in the lives of underprivileged and vulnerable people. She believes that making a difference is not subject to a specific profession. In her words, “ … all of us can make a difference. Having the privilege of being a social worker for many years made me more mindful of the many opportunities we have to make a difference.”

“Through adoption, abandoned children and children without prospects of permanent family care can find forever families, which is life-changing!”

Although Abba’s focus is broader than adoptions, Kantinka strongly emphasises the importance of legal adoptions in our broken world. She says, “There are large numbers of children who do not get to be born into or to grow up in loving families. Adopting should be a well-thought-through decision made with both the heart and head and with the support of significant others. Through adoption, abandoned children and children without prospects of permanent family care can find forever families, which is life-changing!”

“Abba” in Hebrew means “Father, protector and provider”; the same care Abba aims to offer abandoned children as they find their forever families. The following are just some of the many unheard stories of formerly abandoned and neglected children whose lives were changed because someone cared.

  • Out in the cold 
    “My life changed on a cold winter’s night when my mother left me behind a petrol station, wrapped in only a small blanket, barely a day after I was born. I was hidden from sight but found by a passer-by who heard my whimper and took mercy on me.  She called the South African Police, who then contacted an Abba social worker, and I was taken to a safe place, where I received loving and safe care until I was placed with a Forever Family, who adopted me. A family where I could grow up like any normal child accepted despite my background.” 
     
  • Placed in a box 
    “My life changed when I was two days old. A kind-hearted person found me abandoned and alone, took me to a baby-saver box (baby bin) and placed me inside. He then disappeared into the night. The social worker who removed me from the baby bin said I was starving and had not been bathed since birth. I was cared for, and all my needs were met until I became part of my Forever Family.” 
     
  • Isolated and alone 
    “I was found on an ice-cold winter night dressed in three baby grows and wrapped in a woolly blanket.  I was lying on a park bench, completely isolated and alone. A community member found me and took me to the police station. The paediatrician said I was only a week old. That night, my life changed because now I am part of my loving, caring family.”
Rescued baby
Babies in baby room

Many people are unaware of the alarming and rising rates of child abandonment in our country. And Abba Specialist Adoption & Social Services has, since 1983, been a crucial player in helping numerous vulnerable babies and young children in desperate need of intervention. 

Daily, children are being left destitute by their parents or significant others. According to childwelfaresa.org.za, over 3500 babies are abandoned annually. And research by deeblackie.com in 2016 found that, 

  • 2 out of 3 abandoned babies die. 
  • 65% of abandoned babies are new-born. 
  • 90% of abandoned babies are under the age of one.  

Abba takes the protection of children very seriously and believes that it is the State’s and Civil Society’s, including the Church’s, duty to take responsibility for the plight of destitute children. They also believe that saving children’s lives and securing their futures at an early age decreases the consequences of not intervening.

Abba has helped many vulnerable babies find a home by providing parenting programmes and integrated services. In the last 17 years, Abba has, 

  • Counselled 3 563 birthmothers who experienced unplanned pregnancies and provided them and their families with options-counselling and support. 
  • Taken in and positively impacted the lives of over 4 771 babies. 
  • Placed 3 545 children in forever families. 
  • Screened, prepared, and supported 2 952 adoptive parents post-adoption. 

What services do they offer?

  1. Preventative and early intervention services to marginalised families.  
  2. Education, engagement and support to families facing an unplanned pregnancy by providing holistic support and options-counselling. 
  3. Child protection, statutory services, and permanency planning for abandoned, orphaned, and adoptable young children who need permanent alternative care. 
  4. Abba provides specialised adoption services facilitated by experienced, registered adoption social workers. 
  5. Development of engagement and training programmes and providing training on adoption, abandonment, ethics and child protection to selected relevant professionals in the adoption community. 
  6. Education and awareness creation to stakeholders and the relevant larger community.  
  7. Advocacy of children’s right to family care and ethical standards in adoption services.

Do you feel moved to learn more about Abba, adopting or fostering a child? Contact them on 012 342 6145, email them at info@abbaadoptions.co.za or visit their website, www.abbaadoptions.co.za.

The greatest gift you can give a child is to help change their destiny. 

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