By Vanessa Papas: As a child, Lee Brammall had a recurring dream. While playing alone outside she would find a baby abandoned at the bottom of the garden and secretly look after her. Who would have known that one day Lee’s dream would become a reality of an actual adoption.
When Lee heard Child Welfare were looking for foster (places of safety – not foster) for some of the children abandoned at birth or removed from their family home due to gross neglect or insufficient care, she decided she had room in her home, and her heart, for another child. After a meeting with Child Welfare social workers came to inspect her home. When Lee had heard no feedback two months later she was worried she’d ‘failed’ the inspection.
Then one day out of the blue she received a call about a baby who had been dropped off at a police station when she was about two months old by a woman in her late teens. The infant had been hospitalised because of kwashiorkor – a form of severe malnutrition – and bronchial pneumonia. Lee says she ‘fully expected’ the baby she was going to meet would have Aids but the test results had come back negative.
“When I saw her for the first time I was overcome with emotion,” says Lee. “She was wearing a very dirty baby-grow and was thin and small – she looked more like a newborn than a four-month-old. When they put her in my arms, she smiled at me and I said, ‘you’re going nowhere, you’re mine’. I couldn’t take her straight away. A week later I had to go to court. That same day I took her home. Other people have had a much harder time going through the foster and adoption process but that wasn’t the case with me. There was no red tape.” Because Maggie’s birth date was unknown, I had to choose her birthday, which was quite a difficult one! I had been given a four-week time-frame to choose from and ironically my mom’s birthday was slap bang in the middle. My mom died when I was 10 so I thought it would be nice if they shared the same birthday. My mom would have loved her. We named her Maggie.”
The adoption only finally took place last year. Lee had to go through a private social worker paying R13 000 because Child Welfare kept losing the files. “We were with Child Welfare from the beginning until two years ago and eventually decided it would be best just to go privately and that took about nine months. We now have to wait for her change of name to occur. It can be months and then have to get an unabridged birth certificate, which could also take months. So we’re probably looking at another two years before Maggie can even get a passport.”
Today Maggie is a giggly and care-free child who oozes confidence, makes friends easily, and loves dancing, singing and dressing up. Lee says she can’t say for certain if the baby she had always dreamt about as a child was a presentiment of the future but life works in mysterious ways…and her little family could today not be happier.