Published 10 December 2018, The Daily Tribune

Many Filipino children are in dire need of permanent home and sense of belonging. At the same time, many couples had long been wanting to grow further their families and have a child. Good thing, our laws allow adoption.

Adoption is the legal process of according legitimate status to a child. It is a juridical act which creates between two persons a relationship similar to that of legitimate paternity and filiation. Adoption can take place only by judicial decree. A mere agreement between the adopter and the biological parents of the child without judicial approval is not valid.

Traditionally, the purpose of adoption was to afford persons who have no children the consolation of having one. The modern trend, however, is to consider adoption not merely as an act to establish a relationship of paternity and filiation, but also as an act which endows the child with a legitimate status. This was indeed confirmed in 1989, when the Philippines, as a State Party to the Convention of the Rights of the Child initiated by the United Nations, accepted the principle that adoption is impressed with social and moral responsibility, and that its underlying intent is geared to favor the adopted child.

The Philippines has two laws on adoption, namely: (1) Republic Act 8552 otherwise known as the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998; and (2) Republic Act 8043 otherwise known as the Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995. Domestic adoption governs the adoption of Filipino children by Filipinos and/or aliens residing in the Philippines for at least three (3) continuous years, while inter-country adoption pertains to the process of adopting a Filipino child by a foreigner or a Filipino citizen permanently residing abroad.

As between the two, domestic adoption is encouraged by the State to preserve the child’s identity and culture. It is only when domestic adoption is not available that inter-country adoption may be pursued as a last resort. In fact, before a child is placed for inter-country adoption, the law requires that all possibilities for domestic adoption of the child have been exhausted and that inter-country adoption is in the child’s best interest. When it comes to domestic adoption, on the other hand, the policy of the law is to have the child adopted by his or her relatives. 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.

After undergoing the proceedings required by adoption laws and once adoption is decreed by the court, all legal ties between the biological parents and the adoptee shall cease and be vested upon the adopter. The adoptee will then be considered the legitimate child of the adopters for all intents and purposes and will be entitled to all the rights and obligations of a legitimate child without discrimination of any kind, including the right to bear the surname of the father and mother. To this end, the adoptee is entitled to love, guidance, and support in keeping with the means of the family.

The adopter and the adoptee also have reciprocal rights of succession without distinction from legitimate filiation. The adoptee can inherit from their adopting parents and they can represent them in the estate of the latter’s ascendants. However, while the adopter and the child acquire reciprocal rights and obligations, adoption does not confer on the adopted the nationality of the adopter. Citizenship is a privilege, not a right. Adoption is not recognized by law as a way of acquiring citizenship.

The foregoing laws on adoption are liberally construed to carry out the beneficent purposes of adoption. Every reasonable intendment should be sustained to promote and fulfill the noble and compassionate objectives of the law — that is, to promote the interests and welfare of the adopted child. The next articles will tackle the procedure for domestic and inter-country adoption. Meanwhile, those who are minded to adopt should carefully consider its consequences before adopting a decision.

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