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Inter-country adoption in the Philippines is governed by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8043 or the InterCountry Adoption Act of 1995.

Preference is given to Filipino adoptive parents as can be seen from

the law's restrictive stance towards adoption of Filipino children by alien prospective adoptive
parents (PAP). The law allows inter-country adoption to alien (PAP) only if it shown that the same is
for the best interests of the child. R.A. No. 8043 is in accord 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.
The Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICABM) created by R.A. No. 8043 is the central authority in
matters relating to inter-country adoption of Filipino children. It is the same policy-making and
regulatory body responsible for the approval of all inter-country adoption applications and

The Inter-Country Adoption Process

The adoption process begins with the application for adoption submitted to the ICAB. The PAP may
be an alien or a Filipino citizen permanently residing abroad. Before the PAP may be allowed to
adopt, he must: (1) be at least twenty-seven (27) years old and should at least be sixteen (16) years
older than the child to be adopted at the time of application, unless the adopter is the biological
parent of the child to be adopted or the spouse of such parent; (2) if married, his/her spouse must
jointly file the application for adoption; (3) have the capacity to act and assume all rights and
responsibilities of parental authority under his national laws, and has undergone the appropriate
counseling from an accredited counselor in his/her country; (4) have not been convicted of a crime
involving moral turpitude; (5) eligible to adopt under his/her national law; (6) in a position to provide
the proper care and support and to give moral guidance to his children, the prospective adoptee
included; (7) agree to uphold the basic rights of the child as embodied under the Philippine laws, the
U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to abide by the rules and regulations issued to
implement the provisions of R.A. No. 8043; (8) a national of a country with whom the Philippines
maintains diplomatic relations and whose government maintains a similarly authorized and
accredited agency and that his/her national laws allows inter-country adoption; and (9) possess all
the foregoing qualifications and none of the disqualifications provided in other applicable Philippine
With respect to the adoptee, R.A. No. 9523 otherwise known as "An Act Requiring the Certification of
the Department of Social Welfare and Development to Declare a Child Legally Available for
Adoption" mandates that only a child legally available for adoption may be the subject of intercountry adoption. A child legally available for adoption refers to a child in whose favor a certification
was issued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that he/she is legally
available for adoption after the fact of abandonment or neglect has been proven through the
submission of pertinent documents.

Where to File the Application

After securing the Certification from the DSWD that the child is legally available for adoption, the
petition/application may be filed in (1) the Regional Trial Court having jurisdiction over the child; or
(2) with the ICAB, through an accredited intermediate agency in the country of the prospective
adoptive parents.
Foreigners who opt to file a petition for adoption in court in accordance with the Domestic Adoption
Act , need not submit the application to ICAB. The Court will refer the petition to ICAB which shall act

on the application. Foreigners must meet the following conditions under Philippine adoption law: (1)
the PAP must be a resident of the Philippines for at least three (3) years prior to the filing of the
petition and should be able to maintain such residence until the adoption decree is granted by the
court; and (2) submit a certification of legal capacity to adopt issued by the appropriate government
agency from the state of residence.
The Philippine government may however waive the foregoing requirements if it is shown that the
PAP is: (1) a former Filipino citizen seeking to adopt a relative within the fourth degree of
consanguinity, as defined under Philippine law; or (2) one seeking to adopt the legitimate
son/daughter of his/her Filipino spouse; or (3) married to a Filipino and who seeks to adopt jointly
with his/her spouse a relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity, as defined under Philippine

The Adoption Process

The ICAB is expected to act upon the application within one (1) month from its receipt. Documents
such as the Child Study and Home Study Reports, Birth or Foundling Certificate, Certification from
the DSWD that the child is legally available for adoption must be submitted together with the
application. Applications are reviewed and processed only when the required documents are
completely submitted.
Matching the prospective adoptive child with an applicant shall thereafter be carried out in a
matching conference conducted by the ICAB. The process of matching entails the review of adoption
dossiers, submission of matching proposals, and deliberations. Matching or child referral will depend
largely on the stated child preference of the PAP. This usually takes two (2) to three (3) years after
the approval of the matching proposal.
Upon approval of a matching proposal, notice shall be given to the concerned Central Authority or
foreign adoption agency. After the applicant has accepted the matching proposal, the ICAB shall
issue a Placement Authority. The applicant is thereafter assessed for pre-adoptive placement fees
which may range anywhere between US$2000 to US$3000 per placement. The amount varies from
one child to another. Factors such as visa fees and medical examinations contribute to the variance
in fees.

Problem Areas
Trial custody of the child commences upon the physical transfer of the child to the applicant who, as
custodian, shall exercise substitute parental authority over the child. Trial custody is supervised by
the Central Authority and/or Foreign Adoption Agency (FAA) concerned. Regular reports on the
child's health, psycho-social adjustment, and relationship with the applicants shall be furnished by
the FAA to the ICAB. If the child suffers abuse or injury from the PAP or other household members of
the adoptive family, the Central Authority or the FAA is mandated to step in and protect the child. It
may do so by withdrawing the child from and terminating the trial custody.

Recent Developments
A recent study conducted by the ICAB on the number of children cleared for inter-country adoption
vis--vis the number of prospective adoptive families revealed a glaring disproportion between the
number of children against a long list of prospective adoptive families, resulting in a protracted
waiting period for child placement. This prompted the ICAB to temporarily suspend the acceptance
of additional adoption applications from FAAs. The temporary suspension as enunciated in the ICAB

Resolution issued on December 9, 2010 however, only applies to FAAs which have sent ten (10) or
more applications per year for the last three (3) years (2008-2010). The FAAs affected by this new
policy shall be required to temporarily refrain from sending additional applications until the waiting
period for applicant families have decreased for the next two (2) years.

Best interest of the child above all else

For many, the benefits of adoption outweigh the risks. Through adoption, many childless couples
have found a way to realize their dream of raising a family. Adoption has also placed countless
homeless Filipino children to the care of loving adoptive parents who are emotionally and financially
ready to support them. It is because of these inherent benefits in adoption that the Philippines takes
a liberal view on inter-country adoption and promotes the same not only as an act that creates a
relationship of paternity and filiation, but also one aimed at giving every prospective adoptee a
chance at a better future.
Along with the liberality accorded to adoption, the principle of "best interest of the child" pervades
Philippine cases involving adoption and child custody. Philippine law mandates that in choosing the
parent to whom custody is given, the welfare of the child should always be the paramount
consideration. Aside from the material resources, as well as the moral and social situations of the
PAP, all relevant circumstances that impact on the child's well-being and development are
considered. It is in keeping with this principle that all programs on inter-country adoption are geared
towards the betterment of the adopted child.