Published 13 March 2023, The Daily Tribune

Adoption in the Philippines had often been described as an exhausting and daunting process. Couples seeking to adopt a child must undergo pre-adoption services, file a petition in court, and attend hearings to present evidence that sometimes take years to finish, with no assurance that the petition would be granted. Worse, the hearings are usually adversarial because prosecutors may cross-examine the parents and their witnesses when testifying, adding to the stress and anxiety of the prospective parents.

But that is no longer the case with the passage of Republic Act 11642 or the “Domestic Administrative Adoption and Alternative Child Care Act” which took effect on 28 January 2022.

The salient feature of RA 11642 is the creation of the National Authority for Child Care or NACC which shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over all matters about alternative child care, including declaring a child legally available for adoption, domestic adoption, and adult adoption, among others.

This means that domestic adoption is now an administrative process, no longer judicial. RA 11642’s declaration of the policy states that the administrative adoption process is the most expeditious proceeding that will redound to the best interest of the children to be adopted.

RA 11642 also creates the Regional Alternative Child Care Office or RACCO, under the umbrella of the NACC, for each region of the country.

Couples seeking to adopt a child may file a petition with the appropriate RACCO. The law requires the spouses to jointly adopt, except in the following cases:

(a) If one spouse seeks to adopt the legitimate child of the other; or

(b) If one spouse seeks to adopt their own illegitimate child: Provided, That the other spouse has signified consent thereto; or

(c) If the spouses are legally separated from each other.

On the other hand, the following may be adopted, under Section 22 of the law:

(a) Any child who has been issued a Certificate Declaring a Child Legally Available for Adoption;

(b) The legitimate child of one spouse by the other spouse;

(c) An illegitimate child by a qualified adopter to improve the status of legitimacy;

(d) A Filipino of legal age if, prior to the adoption, said person has been consistently considered and treated by the adopters as their own child for a period of at least three (3) years;

(e) A foster child;

(f) A child whose adoption has been previously rescinded;

(g) A child whose biological or adoptive parents have died: Provided, That no proceedings shall be initiated within six months from the time of death of said parents; or

(h) A relative of the adopter.

The NACC would examine the trial custody report, the petition, and the supporting documents. If the NACC is convinced that the adoption shall redound to the best interest of the child, it shall issue the Order of Adoption.

It is relevant to note that the law allows those with pending adoption petitions in court to withdraw their petitions and transfer them to the NACC.

With respect to inter-country adoption, the same is still governed by RA 8043 or the “Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995.” But under RA 11642, all duties, functions, and responsibilities of the Inter-Country Adoption Board are transferred to the NACC.

With the new law, hopefully, more Filipino children in need of permanent homes and a sense of belonging are adopted by deserving couples.

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