Are you considering adopting a child? According to the data gathered, as of 2018, there are over 6,500 Filipino children in need of a lasting home. This article will provide basic insights on how does adoption work.
In the Philippines, we can say that we have gone so far in satisfying and fulfilling the rights of Filipino children.
The significant enactments and legislations towards the improvement of children’s administrations and welfare are portions of the achievements that have progressed in connection with the children’s well-being and health in the Philippines.
Consequently, this may be the offshoot of the strict implementation of Legal Adoption in the Philippines.
As we all know, children need supportive and adoptive families for multiple reasons. One of the most widely recognized ratiocinations in the Philippines, notwithstanding, are social shame against kids who are conceived illegitimately, neediness, family sickness, family crises, and parents’ [or one of them] incarceration.
Some of them are even abandoned for causes such as, but not limited to, abuse or neglect. They are, therefore, the children who have been, either, surrendered or left at child caring facilities. In worst case scenarios, some are totally abandoned in public, troubled, and delicate places.
These children are regularly 2-5 years of age, when neglected, and have exceptional necessities as well as complex parental history.
Some children are at the age of 6 and above. Similarly, they need someone to take care of them. These young kids most often than not stay and live in privately or state run care centers. Others have been placed in licensed foster homes.
So, if you are thinking of adopting a Filipino child, of course, you have numerous questions in mind like:
- What is Adoption?
- How much does it cost to adopt a child in the Philippines?
- What are the requirements for adopting a child in the Philippines?
- Where can I file adoption papers in the Philippines?
- How long is adoption process in Philippines?
- What is inter-country adoption?
These are some of the questions that need an accurate answer for someone who wants to adopt a child. This article may provide guidance.
State Policy and Intervention | How Does Adoption Work?
We shall discuss and answer some of the most common questions related to the Legal Adoption in the Philippines.
Before everything else, we need to know the reason why adoption is made lawful and legal in the Philippines and we also need to properly define the word Adoption under the law.
As stated in Republic Act 85521:
It is hereby declared the policy of the State to ensure that every child remains under the care and custody of his/her parent(s) and be provided with love, care, understanding and security towards the full and harmonious development of his/her personality. Only when such efforts prove insufficient and no appropriate placement or adoption within the child’s extended family is available shall adoption by an unrelated person be considered.2
In all matters relating to the care, custody and adoption of a child, his/her interest shall be the paramount consideration in accordance with the tenets set forth in the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child; UN Declaration on Social and Legal Principles Relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children with Special Reference to Foster Placement and Adoption, Nationally and Internationally; and the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. Toward this end, the State shall provide alternative protection and assistance through foster care or adoption for every child who is neglected, orphaned, or abandoned.3
These are the primary reasons why the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998 has been enacted.
As indicated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), 3,793 children have already been made legally accessible for adoption since 2009, under the care of residential care facilities. Then, how do we define Adoption?
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) declares adoption as:
The “socio-legal process of giving a permanent family to a child whose parents have voluntarily or involuntarily given up their parental rights.”4
On the other hand, according to law and jurisprudence, the Supreme Court discussed the legal implication of adoption in the case of Renato Lazatin vs. Judge Campos,5, to wit:
“Adoption is a juridical act, a proceeding in rem which creates between two persons a relationship similar to that which results from legitimate paternity and filiation. Only an adoption made through the court, or in pursuance with the procedure laid down under Rule 99 of the Rules of Court is valid in this jurisdiction. It is not of natural law at all, but is wholly and entirely artificial. To establish the relation, the statutory requirements must be strictly carried out, otherwise, the adoption is an absolute nullity. The fact of adoption is never presumed, but must be affirmatively proved by the person claiming its existence. xxx”6
In line with this, Philippine laws, thus, allow legal adoption of Filipino children. The legal basis, therefore, are the following laws:
- Republic Act No. 8552 [Filipino citizens to adopt Filipino children]
- Republic Act No. 80437 [Foreign nationals adopting Filipinos]
- Republic Act No. 95238
How much does Legal Adoption in the Philippines Cost?
As someone who is thinking and considering to adopt a child in the Philippines, one of the most important question is the cost. How much does legal adoption cost in the Philippines?
This varies, according to the types of adoption i.e. agency, relative/blood, or independent adoption. Quantifiable at the initial stages to its culmination is the agency adoption.
Of course, like with other applications, the adoptive parent or the applicant will have to spend for securing the documents required for adoption.
In here, we shall provide approximate costs and amount of money needed, although these are just estimation and accordingly may vary.
Nonetheless, this will give insights to those individual who are inclined to go through the process of legal adoption and the cost thereof.
While the DSWD services are normally free, the work of accredited child placing agencies will charge fees for their services.
Additionally, the applicant also need to consider the lawyer fees when he or she undergoes the judicial phase of adoption. There can be no legal adoption without a Judicial Decree, unless allowed specifically by law [Republic Act No. 112229.
Estimated Required Administrative Expenses
Agency Adoption Primarily
There is also a fee for Child Case studies. However, these are minimal only since the social worker will be assigned by the DSWD. The estimated amount is around Php3,700.
The next is for the Publication Cost which estimated to be around PhP15,000 to 30,000 for each child.
There are also Attendance to pre-adoption fora or seminars but these fees are also minimal since these are conducted by the DSWD.
In addition, if adoption is done through the agency, the latter will often charge for some of the work done which may amount to Php17,700 [although this is again an approximation, subject to applicant’s own verification]. To be sure, you must always demand Official Receipts for every payment you have made.
Additional costs include:
- The Pre-Adoption Forum Cost and Application, around Php1,500 for a couple
- Adoption Home Study for about Php5,000
- Issuance of Pre-Adoption Placement Authority, estimated to be Php7,500
- Other Administrative Costs i.e. affidavits and supporting documents required by the court
The process of completing all the requirements for documentation may likewise entail costs.
Estimated Required Legal Fees
These are some of the fees and cost to adopt a child in the Philippines in approximate amounts. The major cost included in the adoption proceedings are the following:
1] Filing Fee and estimated to be PhP3,000.00
1.1] These fees includes the petition for adoption estimated to be at PhP2,000.00 where the applicant or the petitioner is a Filipino citizen.
1.2] Php1,000 should also be deposited with the court for the Sheriffs’ Trust Fund to cover for court expenses such as travel expenses of the sheriff, process server or other court-authorized persons in the service of summons, subpoena and other court processes.
2] Legal Research Fund which is 1% of the total filing fee
3] The Lawyer’s [Law Office] Fee
3.1] This may include:
3.1.a] Acceptance Fees
3.1.b] Pleading Fees
3.1.c] Appearance Fees
3,1,d] Out-of-Pocket Expenses or
3.1.e] Expenses that are incurred for the benefit of the applicant
3.2] These fees normally varies and cannot be provided by an approximate amount but estimated to be at the minimum of Php50,000 [sometimes the minimum may vary also], exclusive of appearance, pleading, out-of-pocket, and miscellaneous fees and expenses.
What are the Requirements to start the Process of Adoption?
As an adoptive parent or applicant, once you already have sufficient money to cover for all the expenses and fees involved in the adoption process, the next important thing to know are the documentary requirements involved in the whole process.
These are the requirements needed to be attached together with the application form namely:
- Birth Certificate
- Marriage Contract [and other documents that affect your civil status such as Annulment, Legal Separation, Divorce, etc.]
- NBI/Police clearance
- Health Certificate
- Psychological Evaluation, only when required
- Latest income tax return (ITR) and other documents showing you can support the child
- Certificate of employment with compensation also to show the applicant’s capacity to support the child
- 3 character references or letter references [which may come from the local church, employer, or nonrelative who have known you for at least 3 years]
- Affidavit of consent [of all your adopted and biological children if over 10, including illegitimate children if living with you]
- Affidavit of guardianship
- Recent 3×5 pictures of yourself, your spouse, and your children [taken in the last 3 months]
- Certificate of attendance to pre-adoption seminars
Foreigners have a few more certifications and documents to accomplish and must complete these additional adoption documents to legally adopt a child in the Philippines.
These additional requirements for Foreigners would be:
- Certificate from his country/embassy that he is qualified to adopt and that the child can migrate to his home country as his own adopted child unless exempted under Section 4(2)10
- Certificate of Residence from the Bureau of Immigration or Department of Foreign Affairs or Home study report on the adopters
- If the adopter is an alien or residing abroad but qualified to adopt, the home study report by a foreign adoption agency duly accredited by the Inter-Country Adoption Board
- Decree of annulment, nullity or legal separation of the adopter as well as that of the biological parents of the adoptee, if any
- 2 character references from non-relatives who are citizens of your previous country of residence who have known you for at least 2 years
- Police Clearance from all places of residence in the past two years immediately prior to residing in the Philippines
Now, that is a lot of paperwork that you are going to have to do and comply with if you want to adopt a child in the Philippines
You must take note that, as you go through the adoption process, you may be asked to accomplished and complete other documents along the way.
Where will the documents be submitted afterwards?
Assuming you already completed all the documentary requirements required to be attached with the application form. Likewise, you also have sufficient money to pay to all the fees and expenses that will be incurred along the adoption process.
The next question is where you will going to submit those documents?
In this part, we shall discuss where the applicant or the adoptive parents can submit their requirements necessary to jumpstart their desire to adopt in accordance with law.
To answer the query, all the required documents should be submitted to the DSWD. After the assessments and the required procedures and steps have been undertaken in relation to certain type of adoption, the DSWD a Certificate of Pre-Adoption Placement Authority to start the process trial custody.
Nonetheless, time, period, and procedures will be different, depending on the type of adoption.
What are the common Types of Adoption?
There are three (3) ways or types of adoption in the Philippines. These are:
- Adoption through Agency
- Relative or Blood Adoption
- Independent Adoption
This is when you adopt a stranger through the facilitation, assistance, and support of an agency.
In this type of adoption, the prospective adopters will undergo a process, of which the ultimate purpose is to find the right matching for the adopters and the adoptee.
The biological parents of the adoptee, the adoptee himself or herself, and the prospective adopters will be subjected to counseling to determine the proper matching.
Their psychological framework will be meticulously assessed and evaluated so that the ultimate objective of adoption will be achieved, primarily centering on the welfare of the child to be adopted.
“Agency adoption occurs when a DSWD-licensed agency finds adoptive families for children. Agency adoption targets three actors: the biological parents, the child who will be up for adoption, and the adopters. Philippine state policies and procedures regarding adoption aims to balance and safeguard the rights and welfare of the stated actors.”11
After a successful matching process, your records will be submitted to the DSWD for the issuance of Pre-Adoption Placement Authority to start the trial custody.
If you are a prospective adopter, you can apply directly to the two (2) accredited Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Agencies, which can assess your eligibility ad qualifications.
These are the Norfil Foundation and Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF).
Norfil Foundation is a national, non-stock, nonprofit, non-governmental organization dedicated in achieving an inclusive society and a world where every child is cared for and loved.
Their main office is located in 16 Mother Ignacia St. cor. Roces Ave. Quezon City, Philippines 1103 with Tel. no. (02)372-3755 and +63 (02) 8372 3577 to 79.
They also have Northern Samar Office located in Bugko, Mondragon, Northern Samar with contact number +63 917 1142351.
Their Ilocos Sur Office is located in 100 Bantaoay, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur with Telefax: (077) 604 0553 and their Cebu Office is located on Airbase Rd, Sangi, Pajo, Lapu-Lapu, Cebu with Tel. No. (032) 340 5722 and Fax: (032) 340 1170.
The next accredited agency of the DSWD is Kaisahang Buhay Foundation, Inc. Kaisahang Buhay Foundation Inc. [KBF].
KBF is a private, non-profit, child and family welfare organization, duly licensed an accredited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
It is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and certified as a donee institution by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Philippine Council for NGO Certification.
Their Main office is located on #56 10th Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City with Tel. no (02)912-1159, 913-1469 and Fax no. (02)912-1160 and Email address [email protected]. Their area of operation is mainly focused on Metro Manila, Region III, Region IV.
Aside from the two (2) accredited Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Agencies, applicants and adoptive parents can also apply for adoption and submit their papers in Adoption Resource and Referral Unit (ARRU) of Department of Social Welfare and Development, NCR.
The office is located in 389 San Rafael St., San Miguel, Manila with Tel. no. (02)734-8651, 734-8622.
The prospective adopters can also apply for adoption and submit their adoption papers in DSWD Regional Offices and Local Government Social Welfare and Development Offices.
Relative or Blood Adoption
As the term implies, this refers to the adoption of which the adoptee is a relative of the adoptee.
While the matching administrative process as in the agency adoption will be dispensed with, the adopter must still submit the requirements before the DSWD in order to obtain the Certificate of Pre-Adoption Placement Authority for the purpose of trial custody.
Trial custody is still indispensable.
This is the middle ground between Agency and Blood Adoption. The adopter and adoptee are strangers from each other. However, it may happen that the biological parents of the adoptee are close, mutual friends of the adopter.
Hence, the adopter in this case knows the family of the adoptee. Thus, the matching process may also be dispensed with.
Although, the adopter should still obtain the Pre-Adoption Placement Authority from the DSWD for the purpose of trial custody.
After the trial custody, the situation and relationship, assuming it went well as certified by the accredited social worker of the DSWD, is now ripe for Petition for Adoption before a competent court.
The petitioner-adopter now needs a lawyer to handle this petition before the competent court.
A Petition for Adoption shall be filed before the proper court, which has jurisdiction over this type of petition, both substantive and territorial.
The Petition should contain the following factual allegations,12 to wit:
“x x x . . . Contents of the Petition.13 – The petition shall be verified and specifically state at the heading of the initiatory pleading whether the petition contains an application for change of name, rectification of simulated birth, voluntary or involuntary commitment of children, or declaration of child as abandoned, dependent or neglected.
“1) If the adopter is a Filipino citizen, the petition shall allege the following:
“(a) The jurisdictional facts;
“(b) That the petitioner is of legal age, in possession of full civil capacity and legal rights; is of good moral character; has not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude; is emotionally and psychologically capable of caring for children; is at least sixteen (16) years older than the adoptee, unless the adopter is the biological parent of the adoptee or is the spouse of the adoptee’s parent; and is in a position to support and care for his children in keeping with the means of the family and has undergone pre-adoption services as required by Section 4 of Republic Act No. 8552.
“2) If the adopter is an alien, the petition shall allege the following:
“(a) The jurisdictional facts;
“(b) Sub-paragraph 1(b) above;
“(c) That his country has diplomatic relations with the Republic of the Philippines;
“(d) That he has been certified by his diplomatic or consular office or any appropriate government agency to have the legal capacity to adopt in his country and his government allows the adoptee to enter his country as his adopted child and reside there permanently as an adopted child; and
“(e) That he has been living in the Philippines for at least three (3) continuous years prior to the filing of the petition and he maintains such residence until the adoption decree is entered.
“The requirements of certification of the alien’s qualification to adopt in his country and of residency may be waived if the alien:
“(i) is a former Filipino citizen who seeks to adopt a relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity; or
“(ii) seeks to adopt the legitimate child of his Filipino spouse; or
“(iii) is married to a Filipino citizen and seeks to adopt jointly with his spouse a relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity of the Filipino spouse.
“3) If the adopter is the legal guardian of the adoptee, the petition shall allege that guardianship had been terminated and the guardian had cleared his financial accountabilities.
“4) If the adopter is married, the spouse shall be a co-petitioner for joint adoption except if:
“(a) one spouse seeks to adopt the legitimate child of the other, or
“(b) if one spouse seeks to adopt his own illegitimate child and the other spouse signified written consent thereto, or
“(c) if the spouses are legally separated from each other.
“5) If the adoptee is a foundling, the petition shall allege the entries which should appear in his birth certificate, such as name of child, date of birth, place of birth, if known; sex, name and citizenship of adoptive mother and father, and the date and place of their marriage.
“6) If the petition prays for a change of name, it shall also state the cause or reason for the change of name.
“In all petitions, it shall be alleged:
“(a) The first name, surname or names, age and residence of the adoptee as shown by his record of birth, baptismal or foundling certificate and school records.
“(b) That the adoptee is not disqualified by law to be adopted.
“(c) The probable value and character of the estate of the adoptee.
“(d) The first name, surname or names by which the adoptee is to be known and registered in the Civil Registry.
“A certification of non-forum shopping shall be included pursuant to Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.”14
How long is the Process of Adoption?
After completing all the documentary requirements needed, paying for all the fees and expenses required in the adoption and process and after submitting the required documents discussed above, the question will be: how long will the process take?
There are no exact time frame for an applicant or adoptive parents should need to wait for the whole process. In agency adoption, compliance with administrative steps will take time.
After that, you must also take into account the 6-month trial custody. After wards, the filing of the Petition for Adoption before a competent court.
Legal adoption in the Philippines is normally a lengthy and costly process.
Ideally speaking, the process should only takes nine months from application to finalization of adoption for them to complete the whole adoption process.
It is set on the time frame for the reason of simulating the normal period of pregnancy. However, this may be far from the actual happenstance.
When the Petition for Adoption is filed in Court, it can take 2 years or more as there are several hearings involved in the process. In addition, some adoption cases can be quite involved and complex and the total process can take years.
Sometimes, a parent or an applicant can be lucky and will only need to wait for three (3) years for the entire adoption process, yet, that is not happening all the time.
It is a common idea that adoption process should be lengthy so that the applicant and adoptive parents should seriously think and consider all options.
They should also be ready for all the responsibilities because being a parent or guardian is a lifetime commitment that cannot be removed from you in an instant.
Fortunately, the Simulated Birth Rectification Act15 was recently passed.
Senator Grace Poe authored the law. Senator Risa Hontiveros sponsored the same. President Rodrigo Duterte signed it into law last February 21, 2019.
This statute aims to shorten the process of adoption for applicants and adoptive parents who have tampered with the birth documents of a child to make them seem like the biological parents.
Nonetheless, the adoptive parents should establish first that the act was done for the sake of the child.
Parents and applicants shall only be required to get an issuance from the current DSWD Secretary instead of going through a lengthy court procedure.
This is an Administrative Procedure.16
What is Inter-Country Adoption?
The Inter-Country Adoption in the Philippines is governed by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 804317 or the Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995 and was approved on June 7, 1995.
Under Republic Act No. 8043, the main purpose of the law is to place every neglected and abandoned child with an adoptive family. Thus:
“It is hereby declared the policy of the State to provide every neglected and abandoned child with a family that will provide such child with love and care as well as opportunities for growth and development. Towards this end, efforts shall be exerted to place the child with an adoptive family in the Philippines. However, recognizing that inter-country adoption may be considered as allowing aliens not presently allowed by law to adopt Filipino children if such children cannot be adopted by qualified Filipino citizens or aliens, the State shall take measures to ensure that inter-country adoptions are allowed when the same shall prove beneficial to the child’s best interests, and shall serve and protect his/her fundamental rights.”18
The Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICABM) created by R.A. No. 804319 is the central authority in matters relating to inter-country adoption of Filipino children.
Under the said law, it states that:
“There is hereby created the Inter-Country Adoption Board, hereinafter referred to as the Board to act as the central authority in matters relating to inter-country adoption.20
“It shall act as the policy-making body for purposes of carrying out the provisions of this Act, in consultation and coordination with the Department, the different child-care and placement agencies, adoptive agencies, as well as nongovernmental organizations engaged in child-care and placement activities.21
“x x x x . . . .”
Thus, the State policy law also recognizes inter-country adoption, through R. A. No. 8043, allowing aliens to adopt Filipino children, provided it shall be beneficial to the latter’s best interests.
The objective should be to serve and protect the child’s fundamental rights, foremost, the right to life. Inter-country adoption shall be the last resort only if all possibilities under the Family Code have been exhausted.
Inter-country adoption is defined as:
“the socio-legal process of adopting a Filipino child by a foreigner or a Filipino citizen permanently residing abroad where the petition is filed. The supervised trial custody is undertaken, and the decree of adoption is issued outside the Philippines.
This Philippine Statute is in consonance with, and complies with, the “Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Inter-country Adoption“, to which the Philippines is a State Party and is denominated as a Sending Country.
Speedy Adoption Process Under Republic Act No. 9523
It is the policy of the Philippine State to provide every neglected and abandoned child with a family. To this, the State the prioritize those neglected and abandoned child to have adoptive family in the country, at the very least.
Republic Act No. 952322 is an innovation in the Philippine Adoption Laws.
The legal determination of a certain child that he or she is already available for domestic adoption can be done administratively through a proceeding before the DSWD.
The Certification the DSWD issued declaring the child available for adoption shall be deemed in lieu of judicial determination thereof.
Moreover, the same certification shall be the primary evidence23 that the child is indeed available for adoption for the purpose of legal proceedings under R. A. No. 8552 and R. A. No. 8043.
Legal Adoption in the Philippines is very lengthy and costly process. Nevertheless, understanding the process helps a lot especially if you are thinking and considering to adopt a child in the Philippines in the near future.
There is a common thinking that adoption only involves simple process but its not. It is hard and complex since the one we are talking about in here is a lifetime commitment of being a parent or guardian.
Again, it can be a tedious and time-consuming proceeding but with its beneficial effects to your child’s life that it is more than worth it.
Adoption is the best option for someone who wants to take care, be a guardian and raise a child not of his own because it protects the rights and legal interests of the child. The legitimacy of the child is also given importance under the law.
Republic Act No, 8552 provides that:
“The adoptee shall be considered the legitimate son/daughter of the adopter(s) for all intents and purposes and as such is entitled to all the rights and obligations provided by law to legitimate sons/daughters born to them without discrimination of any kind. To this end, the adoptee is entitled to love, guidance, and support in keeping with the means of the family.”24
Additionally, his legal interests was also secured under the same law.
“In legal and intestate succession, the adopter(s) and the adoptee shall have reciprocal rights of succession without distinction from legitimate filiation. However, if the adoptee and his/her biological parent(s) had left a will, the law on testamentary succession shall govern.”25
Let us not forget also the government agency that has the gargantuan task of seeing to it the ultimate objectives of our adoption laws shall have been achieve.
In this case, the Department of Social Welfare and Development. It has issued important guidelines26 relative to this process.
- Domestic Adoption Act of 1998
- Section 2[a], R. A. No. 8552
- Section 2[b], Ibid.
- Local Adoption: Requirements and Procedures
- G.R. No. L-43955-56, 30 July 1979
- The Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995
- R. A. No. 8043, Supra.
- Agency Adoption, Wikipedia
- The Rule on Adoption, Philippine Official Gazette
- Section 7, The Rule on Adoption
- The Rule on Adoption, Ibid.
- Republic Act No. 11222
- Administrative Adoption Procedure under Republic Act No. 11222
- Section 2, R. A. No. 8043
- Inter-Country Adoption Law
- Section 4, Ibid.
- Section 4, Ibid.
- Act to Declare the Child Available for Adoption
- Section 8, R. A. No. 9523
- Section 17, R. A. No. 8552
- Section 18, R. A. No. 8552
- 2020 Omnibus Guidelines on Domestic Adoption