I. LOCAL OR DOMESTIC ADOPTION:
There are two types of domestic adoption undertaken by our team of adoption lawyers and attorneys in the Philippines, 1) Adoption with the consent of the natural parents and 2) Adoption of a Foundling or a child whose parents are not known or who have been abandoned.
There are basically two ways to initiate a domestic adoption in the Philippines, the administrative and the judicial.
THE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESS
1) ATTEND A PRE-ADOPTION SEMINAR. This is the initial step for couples or individuals who are interested to adopt a child in the Philippines. Inquire with the nearest office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in your area about their adoption seminars. These seminars are intended to educate the public on the benefits and responsibility involved in the adoption process in the Philippines. While the focus usually is on the adoption of abandoned children, these seminars are useful as an eye-opener for prospective adoptive parents who are looking at adopting children of relatives or other persons who are prepared to give their consent to an adoption in the Philippines.
2) APPLICATION FOR ADOPTION. Prospective adoptive parents may file an application to adopt a child in the Philippines.
3) DECLARATION OF ABANDONMENT. This occurs when a child is abandoned or when efforts to locate the natural parents fail. The equivalent of this procedure in the case of a Philippine adoption with the consent of the natural parents is the signing by the latter of a DEED OF VOLUNTARY COMMITMENT. Theoretically, this is where the State as parens patriae assumes its role as temporary custodian of the child preparatory to the adoption by the prospective adoptive parents. The intervention by the State at this point is to ensure the best interests of the child.
4) HOMESTUDY. “Home Study Report” refers to a study made by the court social worker of the motivation and capacity of the prospective adoptive parents to provide a home that meets the needs of a child.
5) MATCHING. This is the process of determining if the motivation and capacity of the adoptive parents match the needs of the child subject to adoption in the Philippines.
6) CHILD STUDY. “Child Study Report” refers to a study made by the court social worker of the child’s legal status, placement history, psychological, social, spiritual, medical, ethno-cultural background and that of his biological family needed in determining the most appropriate placement for him.
7) PRE-ADOPTION PLACEMENT AUTHORITY. Issued by the DSWD attesting to the fitness of the child for the next step which is the Supervised Trial Custody.
8) SUPERVISED TRIAL CUSTODY refers to the period of time during which a social worker oversees the adjustment and emotional readiness of both adopters and adoptee in stabilizing their filial relationship.
9) ADMINISTRATIVE CONSENT TO ADOPT. This is issued by the DSWD after conducting the supervised trial custody indicating the government’s consent to cede custody of the child to the prospective parents subject to judicial approval by the court.
THE JUDCIAL PROCESS OF ADOPTION IN THE PHILIPPINES
After the consent to adopt issued by the DSWD, the process can proceed with the filing of the Petition for Adoption with the Regional Trial Court of the place where the adoptive parents reside. Note, however, that the procedure can likewise be initiated judicially (instead of 1 to 9 above) by filing the Petition in court from the very start, but the case will proceed jointly with the administrative process (more particularly under Nos. 3 to 9 above).
1) Filing of Petition for Adoption at the Regional Trial Court. This commences the adoption process with Philippine courts. The petition is accompanied by documentation which will prove the capacity of the prospective adoptive parents to adopt the subject child, such as proof of financial capacity, social and religious support, and the proper psychological make up to adopt.There are no blank forms to fill up, the Petition being a legal document that can be executed properly with the assistance of adoption lawyers.
2) Publication of the Petition. Before hearing, the court will order the publication of the Hearing of the Petition in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for three consecutive weeks. There is a determination at this point by the court of the sufficiency of the petition in form and substance before moving ahead with the hearings on the adoption case.
3) Hearing. After the publication of the Petition and the court determines that the petition is sufficient in form and substance, hearings will be scheduled to receive the testimony of the witnesses which will support the Petition. The two main witnesses are the adoptive parents, the social worker, and when required by the court, the psychologist who conducted the evaluation.
4) Decree of Adoption. After the hearing the evidence, the court renders a decision and a decree of adoption giving custody of the child subject of the adoption, the cancellation of the birth certificate (if one has already been issued) and a new one issued with the adoptive parents named as father and mother on the birth certificate.
5) Authorization To Travel Abroad. If the adoptive parents intend to bring the child to another country , the DSWD will issue an authority to travel when the judgment of the court approving the adoption becomes final and executory .
II. INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION IN THE PHILIPPINES
The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is a treaty to which the Republic of the Philippines has already acceded. It applies to situations where the adoptive parents are residents of a foreign country which are likewise signatories to the treaty and the child is in the Philippines. Normally, the so-called Hague adoption or international adoption is initiated in the country of residence of the prospective adoptive parents.
Procedures on Adoption
1) WHERE TO FILE THE APPLICATION
The application shall be filed with the ICAB through the Central Authority (CA) on Inter-country Adoption or an ICAB accredited Foreign Adoption Agency (FAA) or Governmental Adoption Agency (GAA) in the country where the applicant resides.
For example, in the United States the designated Central Authority is the Department of State and only Federally accredited or approved adoption agencies act as the Foreign Adoption Agency (FAA).
2) RELATIVE ADOPTION
Relative Adoption as applies to inter-country adoption refers to the adoption of Filipino child/ren by relatives residing abroad within the fourth (4th) degree of consanguity.
Former Filipinos permanently residing abroad and/or foreigners intending to undertake either local adoption (the filing and the finalization of the adoption is done in the Philippines and have the intention of bringing the adoptive child to their country of residence) or through the inter-country adoption route MUST first secure the approval from the Central Authority or appropriate government agencies before filing any adoption petition. For instance, applicants from the USA must first secure their suitability and eligibility to adopt (I800A) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
MODIFIED PROCEDURE FOR RELATIVE ADOPTION CASES (AS APPROVED BY THE BOARD ONAUGUST 30, 2007)
1) SUBMISSION BY THE PROSPECTIVE ADOPTIVE PARENTS OF THE COMPLETED QUESTIONNAIRE FOR RELATIVE ADOPTIVE APPLICANTS (ICAB Form No.2) which can be downloaded from the DSWD website shall be submitted by the prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) to the Central Authorities (CAs)/ Foreign Adoption Agencies(FAAs). The CAs/FAAs shall endorse to ICAB the completed Questionnaire for Relative Adoptive Applicants (QRAA) with the agency’s assessment and recomendation on the prospective adoptive parents.
2) If the CA/FAA favorably recommends the PAPs, the ICAB social worker will then request the CA/FAA to proceed with the preparation of the PAPs’ dossier. On the other hand, based on the significant data on the child as indicated in the QRAA, the assigned ICAB Social Worker will request the DSWD – Field Office (FO) to conduct the Child Study Report with supporting documents. Periodic follow-ups will be made with the DSWD-FO.(The time frame from request to ICAB’s receipt of the report will be 3-6 months. In sitautions where the FO could not prepare the Child Study Report within the expected time frame in view of heavy adoption caseload, the ICAB social worker will assist in the conduct of the CSR).
3) Once the ICAB receives from the DSWD-FO the child’s dossier and the complete adoption application dossier of the PAPs from the CA or FAA, the ICAB social worker will prepare an executive summary on the case with his/her recommendation on the child’s adoptive placement for the disposition of the Board.
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