Pretoria - Social Development Minister Edna Molewa has appealed to the public to consider adopting children as the country is facing an increasing number of orphans.
There are currently 1.5 million orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa, with the largest number in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Gauteng. This figure is expected to reach two million by 2010.
Updating the media on Monday on the progress of projects within the department, Ms Molewa said the increasing number of orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa remained a major concern.
She said since the global financial downturn, many organisations reported dramatic increases in cases of child abandonment as many families battle to cope with the majority of children rendered vulnerable by poverty.
"The combined effects of these factors present the greatest threat to our government's ability to achieve its objectives and commitments towards the realisation of children's rights as enshrined in the constitution," Ms Molewa said.
She said adoption was a way of providing stability, long term family relationships and sense of belonging to a vulnerable child.
"We view adoption as one of the best options to address the plight of orphans and vulnerable children in terms of the Children's Act," the minister said.
Minister Molewa noted that due to lengthy court procedures and the general lack of information on the adoption, there had been an increase in the number of children in foster care while there were less children being adopted.
By July 2009, a total of 511 479 children were in foster care while 80 000 were in adoption.
In addressing this, the department has adopted a strategy to increase the number of local adoptions, increase the number of prospective adoptive parents locally and reduce the placement of children through inter-country adoption.
The department will further make communities aware of adoption services and also contribute towards the reduction of the number of children in foster care and child and youth care centres.
"We have appointed the Human Sciences Research Council to conduct a study into the understanding, perceptions and belief towards the adoption.
"The study will be conducted in four provinces and the findings of the study will assist us to identify barriers that prevent people from adopting children as well as introduce appropriate programmes and services to promote adoption," said Minister Molewa.