FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION
1. Can a prospective adoptive parent choose the sex of the child to be adopted?
No, the adoptive applicants are no longer allowed to specify their gender preference. They should be open to either gender.
2. How much are the fees?
The applicants are to bear the following costs incidental to the placement of the child (effective February 2007) Adoption Application Fee–$200.00 (non-refundable upon endorsement of the Adoption Application and Supporting Documents) Processing Fee–US$2,000.00 for single placement. For sibling group of two or more, the processing fee will be pegged at US$3,000.00 Pre-travel Expenses– The cost of the passport, visa, medical examination, psychological evaluation, travel expenses of the child and social worker/caregiver-escort within the Philippines including round trip airfare or bus fare, board and lodging (the costs varies from country to country). Child Care Support Fund for the Child Caring Agencies — US$1,000 given by the adoptive parents to the adoptive child’s orphanage. This is in the form of an international money order or international bank draft payable to the orphanage. ICAB forwards the money order/bank draft to the concerned orphanage of the child. All payments/remittances of fees and other charges are in US dollars and in the form of company check or international money order or international bank draft and made payable to the INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION BOARD. Personal checks, travellers checks or cash ARE NOT acceptable.
3. Is there a requirement to donate to the adoptive child’s orphanages?
A Child Care Support Fund (CCSF) in the amount of US$1,000 has been endorsed by the ICAB to be shared by the adoptive parents with the adoptive child’s orphanage at the time of acceptance or fetching. This amount is not to be construed as payment for the child allocation but rather a support fund for the care of the children left behind in the institutions or orphanage.
4. If you adopt a sibling group, do you pay one processing fee, or one fee for each child?
Effective February 2007, the fees for sibling groups is US$ 3,000.00 regardless of number of siblings.
5. What is the required age for the Adoptive Applicants?
It is a requirement in the Philippine Inter-Country Adoption Law that the adoptive applicants should be at least twenty-seven (27) years old and at least sixteen (16) years older than the child to be adopted at the time of application unless the adoptor is the parent by nature of the child to be adopted or the spouse of such parent. The maximum age gap between the child and prospective adoptive parents (particularly the female PAP) is 45 years.
6. Are there marital status requirements?
- Minimum length of marriage requirement for ICA applicants is 3 years;
- Applicants who have lived together in a common law relationship for several years culminating in a legal marriage must be married for at least one (1) year and the stability of the relationship prior to marriage ios taken into consideration;
- Single applicants are not prohibited from applying but effective July 2007 the Board has set a moratorium on the acceptance of single applicants unless the child preference is a child with special needs (older or sibling group);
- PAPs with history of divorce: since stability of marriage will ensure the permanency of the placement, a maximum of two (2) divorce histories will be accepted.
7. Are there other requirements for Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs) seeking to adopt Filipino children?
The Board instituted specific eligibility requirements that must be met by applicants:
a) educational requirements: must have at least a high school diploma
b) Income requirements: must have a minimum annual income of US$40,000.00;
c) Single applicants: Resources for older children between 9-15 years old.
8. Will a health certificate be issued to the adopted child? If so what diseases will he or she be tested for? Will the child be subject to AIDS testing?
Generally, children cleared for inter-country adoption have been tested and also received immunizations against common childhood ailments while under the care and custody of Child Caring/Child Placing Agencies (orphanages/institutions for children). However, children bound for inter-country adoption placement undergo visa medical examination or health examination prior to the issuance of their entry visa if this is an immigration requirement of the receiving country. To date, visa medical examinations include: blood testings, stool examination, urine test, skin test for allergies, Tuberculin test for Primary Complex or pulmonary Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B (if requested) and HIV. Filipino children are not subjected to AIDS tests unless are there is a parental background of prostitution, multiple partners, drug user, and the like that would logically require the AIDS test to be done because it will be in the child’s best interests.
9. How long is the processing time?
Adoption applicants that have substantive Home Study Report (HSR) and complete supporting documents are reviewed and approved within one month from receipt of the adoption applicant/s’ dossier. On the other hand, adoption application lacking in information and/or documents processing time shall depend upon the submission/completion by the Central Authority/Foreign Adoption Agency (CA/FAA) of the requested information and/or documents.
The matching or child referral or allocation largely depends on the stated child preference (i.e. child’s age, gender and state of health or extent of known background) of the Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs). The waiting time usually takes 2 to 4 years after the PAPs’ approval and inclusion in the Roster of Approved Applicants. Acceptance of a special needs child or older (73 months and above) generally shortens the waiting period for child allocation.
10. Is the adoption process transparent?
Yes, very transparent! The Central Authority representatives can come and visit the ICAB, may request the observation of the Matching Conference, have dialogues with the ICAB Secretariat Social Workers, may schedule visits to the different Child Caring/Placing Agencies or write, fax, email or courier us to Inquire, among others, on matters pertaining to Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs) application, the child being proposed to the PAPs and other inter-country adoption concerns they wish to be clarified.
11. What are the legal guarantees of PAPs in the event the biological parents of the adopted Filipino child changes their mind about the adoption?
The children placed for inter-country adoption are those who are issued a Clearance for Intercountry Adoption by the Competent Authority – the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) after the child have been issued by the DSWD a Certification Declaring a Child Legally Free for Adoption per Republic Act 9523.
When a child has been declared legally free for adoption by the DSWD, the rights of his/her biological parent/s or guardians or other custodian to exercise parental authority over him is severed. The biological parent/s guardian may petition for the restoration of their parental rights and authority over the child within three (3) months after the surrender (DVC) and provided that the child has not left the country with the PAPs.
12. Is there a possibility that the Child will be taken away from the custody of the PAPs after the initial 6 months period?
The child may be taken away from the custody of the PAPs during the initial 6 months trial custody period if the CA/FAA finds that the child or the PAPs or both find/s the pre-adoptive relationship to be unsatisfactory of if the CA/FA finds that the continued placement of the child is not in the child’s best interest. Said relationship is suspended by the Board.
13. Are there many children available in the “waiting child program” and what are the circumstances?
We have a number of children in the “waiting child program”. They consists of Special Needs Children- Special Home Finding:
- Of either sex
- Older children whose age range is from 73 months old and above
- Children belonging to a sibling group of 3 or more
- Children found positive of Hepa B or HIV
- Children with minor medical conditions (cleft lip/palate, half or total blindness, hearing impaired, mild cerebral palsy, etc.) developmental delays (language/speech, motor skills, etc.)
14. How long is the processing for “waiting child program”?
All our waiting children have been cleared for inter-country adoption. Once the FAA notifies the ICAB that a possible family is interested in a specific child/ren in the Special Needs Children (SNC) – Special Home Findings program (SHF), such a case/s of the child/ren is/are put on hold. The ICAB allows the FAA to complete and endorse the dossier of the SHF adoption applicants within a 3 month period. The ICAB Secretariat Social Worker in charge of the SNC-SHF program is mandated by the Board to present the case within one (1) month of receipt of application if the endorsed dossier of the family is thorough and has substantial information in the Home Study Report (HSR) and supporting documents are complete.
15. Can the Prospective Adoptive Parent apply directly with the ICAB?
No. The application shall be filed and officially endorsed to the ICAB through the receiving Country’s Central Authority, Government Adoption Agency or ICAB’s accredited Foreign Adoption Agency in the place of residence of the applicants.
16. Can we pay the ICAB’s fee in personal checks or cash?
No, personal checks, travelers check or cash are not accepted. All payments or remittances of fees and other charges shall be in US Dollars and in the form of company check or international money order or international bank draft made payable to the ICAB.
17. How do foreign adoption agencies prepare prospective adoptive parents?
The prospective adoptive applicant touches base with adoption agencies near their residence for their orientation/counseling on the requirements to be adoptive parents. Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs) must attend a series of meetings or sessions that enable them to determine if adoption is right for them. The PAPs must decide from which country they would like to adopt. Once an adoption application for the Philippine Inter-country Adoption Program is approved by the adoption agency and endorsed to the ICAB, the PAPs are walked through the different stages of the adoption process from the time of application up to securing of the child’s Adoption Decree/Citizenship and on to the post adoption stage (e.g. Motherland Tour, Search for Roots, Reunion, etc.).
18. Can the Prospective Adoptive Parent choose a particular/specific child to be adopted?
No matching arrangement shall be made between the applicant and the child’s parent/guardians or custodians nor shall any contact between them concerning a particular child to be done before the matching proposal of the Committee has been approved by the Board.
There are to date only two (2) situations where the desire of the PAPs to adopt (a) particular pre-identified child/ren can be processed:
- Relative adoption within the 4th degree of consanguinity or affinity
- Special Needs Children for Special Home Finding (SNC-SHF) inclusive of a Medical Mission child who has been hosted by a family.
19. Is there a prescribed period for the finalization of adoption?
Generally, a six months trial custody period or the post placement supervision period is mandated by the law. DSWD Secretary or the Undersecretary for Policy and Programs issues the Affidavit of Consent to Adoption (ACA). The three (3) post placement reports submitted every two months during the 6 months trial custody period are the bases for the issuance of the Consent To Adoption which indicates that the required supervisory trial custody period was satisfied and legalization/finalization of the adoption of the child/ren is to be pursued. The Board approved the maximum period in finalizing a child’s adoption to ensure that the Adoption Decree in the Receiving Country is duly issued and finalized within a period of two (2) years. One (1) month after the issuance of the Adoption Decree, such is to be officially endorsed to the ICAB.
20. How does ICAB assist the adoptive parents and adoptee in the post adoption life?
The ICAB has established post adoption services in cooperation with the local Child Caring Agencies and the Central Authorities/Foreign Adoption Agencies or Government Adoption Agencies. This program enables the exchange of communications/photos between and among, the adoption triad members as well as facilitate the returning adopted child/ren and their adoptive parents visiting the country of birth of the adoptee (Motherland Tour), assisting in looking into the child’s records, visiting the Child Caring Agency where the adoptee came from, tracing or even seeking a reunion with birthparent/family.
21. What is the procedure for the post legal adoption service?
The ICAB requires that the Central Authority/Foreign Adoption Agency request in writing for the availment of post adoption service in behalf of the adopted child/ren and their respective adoptive parents. If it is the birth family (birthmother, birthparents, etc.) who wishes to touch base with their biological child/ren, the concerned DSWD-Field Office Regional Director shall request for such service on behalf of the birthfamily.
The Post Legal Adoption Assistance/Motherland Tour/Search for Roots entails one to 12 months of coordination (through phone, fax, e-mail, letter writing and even very discreet tri-media announcements) between the ICAB, local partners (DSWD or Child Caring Agency) and the Central Authority/Foreign Adoption Agency (CA/FAA).
22. What is Motherland Tour?
The ICAB suggests to the FAA some scenic, historic and meaningful places in the Philippines which are safe and secure enough to visit.
The ICAB also coordinates with the local CCA for the schedule of the Motherland Tour, retrieval of the child’s files and visitation.
The ICAB coordinates and apprises, in writing, the CA/FAA/GAA on the status of the “Motherland Tour”, schedules of meetings and itinerary of visitations.
During their visit to the ICAB office, a cultural program for the Motherland Tour group is prepared. They meet the Board, the ICPC and the Secretariat members. Sharing of experiences and testimonies are shared by the adoptees and/or adoptive family.
23. Does ICAB undertake search and reunion?
The letter received from the CA/FAA/GAA may include a request for the tracing of birthparent/family and reunion. In such cases, the ICAB retrieves family/legal and/or medical documents and schedules meeting and visitations to orphanages/institutions.
Presently ICAB policy regarding intention to search for birth family provides that emotional maturity of an adoptee is a major consideration in the search and reunion process. ICAB has set an appropriate age for an adoptee to search for his/her roots – at the age of majority applicable under the laws of the Receiving Country (18 or 21 years old).
In the meantime, it is obligatory that the searchee/adoptee and the adoptive family undergo the search and reunion preparation counselling/therapy. This should be ascertained by the FAA who processed the adoption with a confirmation letter attesting to such counseling and sent to the Board.
The ICAB Lead Person/Social Worker on Post Legal Adoption Services coordinates with the Records Section of the ICAB as well as with the parent agency – the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the retrieval and review of the child’s/ren’s closed/archived files/records not only to cull out significant information on the birthparent/family but to make these files accessible to the searchee.
Once the birthparents and family have been located, counseling is extended to determine the level of resolution by the birthparents of their guilt/anxiety/apprehension over giving up their child for adoption, current circumstances, understanding of the post adoption reunion, clarifications of expectations and preparation of the birthparent/s for the possible reunion. (The setting up of a reunion depends on the willingness and preparedness of both the birthparent/s and his/her family and the searchee/s and his/her adoptive parents).
A reunion between the adoptee and the traced birthparent/s is held under the supervision of a Board Member, the Executive Director and the ICAB Lead Person.
24. Does ICAB process step-parent adoption?
ICAB does not have jurisdiction over step-parent adoption. Foreign nationals married to Filipinos who want to adopt their Filipino spouse child/ren have two options to legally adopt the child/ren.
- file a petition for domestic adoption before the Regional Trial Courts where the child/ren habitually reside; or
- if allowed by the foreign countries’ law, the child may be adopted under the laws of the foreign national’s country and the family may request the Philippine Courts to recognize the “foreign judgment” of adoption.
25. Do the Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs) have the obligation to spend a certain period of time int he Philippines with the child they wish to adopt and what is the length of this period?
The adoptive parents or anyone of them shall personally fetch the child from the Philippines not later than twenty (20) working days after notice of issuance of the visa of the child for travel to the country where the adoptive parents resides. The adoptive couple/parent shall satay in the Philippines with the child for at least five (5) days to allow bonding to occur between and among them.
26. Is the presence of the Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs) compulsory in the adoption court hearing or can they be represented by a lawyer?
Per the Philippine Intercountry Adoption Law, the finalization of the adoption of a Filipino child is not done in the Philippines but in the country of residence of the PAPs. Once the child has been entrusted by the PAPs from the Philippines, the government Central Authority or the accredited foreign adoption agency shall be responsible for the supervision and monitoring of the placement of the child with the PAps for at least six (6) months and shall furnish the Board with bi-monthly reports on the child’s health, psycho-social adjustment and relationship with the adoptive parents. The report shall also include updated information regarding the adoptive parents personal circumstances, if any. The ICAB will in turn furnish the Child Caring Agency (CCA) with a copy of the post placement reports.
27. Does your law require the monitoring of the development of the child after the adoption is approved and what is the period for this procedure?
As indicated in number 26 question/answer, the ICAB requires for the monitoring of the child’s placement for at least six (6) months or until the adoption is finalized. After the child is legally adopted in the Receiving Country, ICAB no longer requires a report from the Receiving Country.