19 May 2012

Adopting Children Legally

Adopting Children
Every Christmas, my friends prefer to visit orphanages and share their blessings with children growing up without their parents. This is definitely a noble cause and should be emulated by younger and richer generation of couples, but there can be more that we can do for this children than just handing occasional food and toys.

According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) these children desires something else: that is to be taken out of orphanages.

"The DSWD wants these children placed either in foster care, which is substitute parenting, or through adoption. Sana mawala na ang mga bata sa mga institution. Dapat may pamilya sila," Atty. Dulfie Shalim, director of the DSWD's Program Management Bureau.

The DSWD, said Undersecretary Parisya T. Taradji, has facilitated the processing of the legal adoption of 6,558 children from 2006 to 2011, or an average of 1,300 children annually.

The Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB), meanwhile, has placed 4,406 Filipino children for adoption in other countries from 2000 to 2011, said Taradji, yielding an average of 400 Pinoy kids adopted by families abroad yearly.

But these numbers are not enough. Many children are still in orphanages or child care agencies, and it would be for the best interest of the children if they can be placed in the care of families legally, the DSWD said.

This is the rationale for the Adoption Consciousness Week held every February following Proclamation No. 72 dated 3 February 1999, which seeks to "highlight the various issues on adoption and generate public awareness and support for the legal adoption program."

The theme this year is "Isulong! Legal na Pag-aampon," a theme the DSWD feels is very timely, given that many children are being abandoned these days.

The process of legally adopting a child may involve several steps, but these are done to make sure the child is placed in a family that will best serve his or her interest.

Shalim explained the steps as follows:
  1. Application. Interested adoptive parents will have to go to the DSWD office nearest them or to a duly accredited child placement institution. They will then be required to attend an adoption forum at a DSWD Field Office or at the Kaisahang Buhay Foundation and Norfil Foundation, both licensed by the DSWD to receive and process domestic adoption. After that, they are asked to submit required documents to the DSWD, Regional Trial Court, or child caring agencies.
  2. Preparation of homestudy report. A social worker will interview and visit the home so she can evaluate "the parenting capability of prospective adoptive parents and capacity to provide for the best welfare of the child."
  3. Matching or family selection. The National Child Welfare Specialist Group will deliberate on cases.
  4. Pre-placement of child. Information about the child is shared with the prospective adoptive parents.
  5. Placement. The social worker will bring the child to the prospective adoptive parents.
    Supervised trial custody. During a 6-month period, a social worker will visit the home regularly to monitor the adjustment of the child and parents.
  6. Finalization of adoption. The social worker will recommend that a Consent to Adoption be issued and signed by the DSWD Undersecretary for Operations and Capacity Building Group. Prospective adoptive parents then hire a legal counsel to file the petition for the legalization of adoption and represent them in court.
  7. Issuance of adoption decree. The Court issues an Adoption Decree and Certificate of Finality.
  8. Issuance of an amended birth certificate. The Court will forward a copy of the Adoption Decree to the Local Civil Registrar for preparation of the amended birth certificate.
  9. Post-adoptive services. This will be provided by the social worker as needed