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'Baby [R]' gets her day in court


'Baby [R]' gets her day in court

By Lynn Wolstenholme

After almost two years of trying to push through the South African courts to adopt a little girl, a Hamilton family has heard some good news. They will most likely be able to bring the child home later this year.

“It's like our whole house has come alive again,” DG [the applicant] said of her family's reaction, including herself, husband and six children, at hearing the news that Baby [R] will come home soon.

The Constitutional Court of South Africa has issued an order that no one may publish the identities of the parties in this case.

In June 2004, the applicants decided to adopt a child to add to their already large family of six children. They visited Baby Haven, an orphanage in South Africa run by friends David and Caroline Webb. Once they met Baby [R], they fell in love and spoke with lawyers to begin the process of adoption.

In November 2005, the applicants traveled to South Africa for an adoption hearing in the the High Court. They waited for a verdict for more than five months, only to have the judge dismiss their case. They appealed to the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court issued a decree last week, stating, “in light of evidence before this Court, the parties agree that it is in the best interest of Baby [R] to be adopted by the applicants” and “the Department of Social Development expresses no opposition to such adoption.”

“It is almost as if we were standing there knocking on a door forever and it just opened,” DG said.

The biggest hurdle for the applicants was that the Department of Social Development, much like a social services department, was not allowing inter-country adoptions of South African children.

The Constitutional Court, however, has instructed that the department facilitate the adoption.

“All of the sudden the struggle has ended,” DG said. “But with everything we still have to do, we are still very nervous.”

The applicants are supposed to go before the Children's Court for the district of Johannesburg on Oct. 10, where they expect to get formal approval for adoption.

They will then have to receive the adoption decree, and go to the U.S. Consulate for Baby [R]'s Visa. After all that is accomplished, which they are hoping will only take a few days, the applicants will bring Baby [R] home for good.

2007 Oct 2