Intercountry Adoption of a Filipino Child

The Philippines allows the adoption of a Filipino child by a foreign national under the rules and guidelines outlined in RA8043 or the Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995. This law was enacted in accordance with the requirements of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, to which the Philippines is a State Party.

The Hague convention states that intercountry adoption must only be resorted to if:

  1. The children are found eligible for adoption under the laws of their countries of birth
  2. All efforts to find qualified adoptive parents in the children’s own country have been exhausted

In the Philippines, the governing body for intercountry adoptions is the ICAB (Inter-Country Adoption Board), which is under the office of the Department of Welfare and Social Development (DSWD).

Who can adopt

Any foreign national, including former Filipinos and Filipinos who are permanent residents in another country, may adopt a Filipino child if they meet strict requirements that include:

  1. Unless under certain exceptions, the prospective adoptive parent (PAP) must at least be 27 years old, at least 16 years older than the adoptive child, and at most 45 years older than the child
  2. The PAP must come from a country that:
    • Has diplomatic relations with the Philippines
    • Has a government-maintained foreign adoption agency
    • Has laws that allow adoption
  1. The PAP must meet the eligibility requirements for adoption in their own country
  2. A married couple must have been married for at least one year
  3. The PAP should not have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude
  4. The PAP has the ability to assume the responsibilities of parenting, including providing care and support, as well as the necessary moral values and examples to the child
  5. The PAP has undergone counseling from an accredited counselor in their own country

Exemptions to PAP requirements

The requirements above may be waived in cases of relative adoption, where the child and the PAP are within four degrees of relation.

The exception may also apply to:

  • Foreign nationals who wish to adopt the natural children of their Filipino spouse
  • Foreign nationals married to a Filipino who wish to adopt a child within four degrees of relation to the Filipino spouse
  • Special needs children

The PAPs must show proof of relation to the child. It must also be shown that the adoption is to the best interest of the child.

Who may be adopted

  • Any Filipino child below 15 years old who has been committed to the DSWD as a neglected, abandoned, or dependent child
  • A group of three or more siblings of any age
  • Children of any age with special needs

The DSWD endorses the child for inter-country adoption with documentation that includes:

  • Certification Declaring a Child Legally Available for Adoption (CDCLAA)
  • Child Study and Updated Report, which includes information on the child’s identity; ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds; family history; medical history; and others
  • Other documents, such as Security Paper of the Birth and death certificate of the child’s parents (if applicable)

The process for adoption

  • The adoption process may be initiated by the PAP in their home country or in the Philippines. If the foreign national is initiating the adoption process in their home country, they need to file an application with an ICAB-accredited adoption agency.
  • If the adoption is initiated in the Philippines, the application must be submitted either at the Regional Trial Court that has jurisdiction over the child, or at the ICAB. The RTC refers all applications to the ICAB. Foreign nationals who wish to conduct the adoption process in the Philippines must meet certain requirements to be eligible.
  • The ICAB reviews the application and matches a PAP with a prospective child for adoption
  • Once the ICAB board approves a matching proposal, the PAP is informed and has 15 days to decide whether to accept the proposal
  • If the PAP accepts the match, the ICAB issues a placement order and the PAP pays the pre-adoptive placement fees
  • Upon arrival of the child in the adoptive country, trial custody starts under the supervision of the central adoption authority and/or an accredited foreign adoption agency in that country
  • Trial custody lasts for 6 months, after which the adoptive parents can file a petition for adoption in their home country. Once the adoption decree is finalized, the parents must submit the decree to the ICAB

Note that the procedure for relative adoption may vary from the procedure outlined above for non-relative adoption. The relative adoption process also takes longer. There may also be variations in the process based on the adoption laws of the PAP’s home country.

If you want to learn more about inter-country adoption of a Filipino child, get in touch with the attorneys at Duran & Duran-Schulze here.