Published 17 December 2018, The Daily Tribune

Suppose a neglected and abandoned child, despite all efforts, could not be placed with an adoptive family in the Philippines. Will this put an end to his hope of having a family?

Definitely not.

Inter-country adoption is the socio-legal process of adopting a Filipino child by a foreigner or a Filipino citizen permanently residing abroad. This mode of adoption may be considered as a last resort after all possibilities for domestic adoption of the child have been exhausted. It is allowed when the same is proven beneficial to the child’s best interests, and will serve and protect his/her fundamental rights.

Under Republic Act (RA) No. 8043, otherwise known as the Inter-Country Adoption Act, any qualified foreign national or Filipino citizen permanently residing abroad desiring to adopt a Filipino child need not go to the Philippines to apply for adoption. The applicant may file the application with the Inter-Country Adoption Board (“ICAB”) through the Central Authority or an accredited Foreign Adoption Agency (FAA) in the country where he/she resides. If the applicant is in the Philippines, the application may also be filed with the Philippine Regional Trial Court having jurisdiction over the child.

For purposes of inter-country adoption, any child who has been voluntarily or involuntarily committed to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (“DSWD”) as dependent, abandoned or neglected, may be adopted. Prior to adoption, and in order to ensure a mutually satisfying parent-child relationship, a matching conference will be carried out where the children available for adoption will be judiciously paired with the applicants. The applicants cannot directly engage in any matching arrangement with a particular child’s parents/guardians, as all matching processes should be conducted and approved by the ICAB.

After matching, there will be trial custody where the child will be physically transferred to the adopters. Once all the travel documents of the child are ready, the adoptive parents, or any one of them, shall personally fetch the child in the Philippines. In such a case, the adopters must pay the expenses incidental to the pre-adoptive placement of the child, including the cost of the child’s travel, medical and psychological evaluation and other related expenses.

The trial custody is for a period of six (6) months from the time of placement. During such period, the adopters, as custodian, will exercise substitute parental authority over the person of the child. The adopting parents are also required to submit a progress report of the child’s adjustment. The progress report will be taken into consideration in deciding whether or not to issue the decree of adoption.

The Central Authority and/or the FAA of the State to which the child has been transferred will supervise and monitor the placement of the child with the applicants. They will maintain communication with the applicants from the time the child leaves the Philippines up to the time adoption is finalized.

In the event of serious damage in the relationship between the child and the applicant/s and where the continued placement of the child is not in his/her best interests, the Central Authority and/or the FAA should cause the child to be withdrawn from the applicant/s. The ICAB will then look for a suitable family with whom to place the child. If it is unable to find a suitable replacement family for the child, the ICAB, as a last resort, should arrange for the child’s repatriation. It is the current prospective adoptive parents who should shoulder the cost of the child’s repatriation.

On the other hand, if a satisfactory relationship is formed between the applicant/s and the child after the lapse of the period of trial custody, the applicant/s may then file the appropriate petition for the adoption of the child either with a regional trial court in the Philippines or through the Central Authority or an accredited FAA in the country where he/she resides. A decree of adoption will thereafter be issued.

If adoption is effected in any manner contrary to RA No. 8043, any person who knowingly participated therein will be penalized. After all, it is compliance with the law that will serve the best interests of the child.

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