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Adopt children legally, DSWD urges families

February 9, 2012 6:59pm
During the Christmas season, visits to orphanages are popular among Filipinos, who choose to share their blessings with children growing up without their parents.
 
While this is a noble activity, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) desires something else: that these children 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, told reporters Wednesday at a media forum.
 
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 Feb. 3, 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. This year’s Adoption Consciousness Week runs from Feb. 4 to Feb. 10.
 
Lack of awareness
 
At the media forum, adoptive parents agreed with the DSWD and ICAB that there is a lack of awareness about the legal process involved in adoption.
 
Pepito de Leon, who adopted two children with his wife Flor more than 20 years ago, said he tried to convince friends to consider adoption when they have a hard time having a baby.

“It is still difficult to convince people to consider adoption. There is a lack of knowledge and awareness, and there are fears that these children up for adoption may be children of incest, rape, or have a problem with their parental history,” he said.
 
Atty. Bernadette Abejo, ICAB executive director, however, said there is a need to change such perceptions.
 
“These are children. We shouldn’t lump them as children of GROs, children of crime. These children are not at fault. Ang problema ng parents, hindi problema ng bata,” she explained.
 
Abejo added that media can do much to help put adoption in a good light. “The appeal to media is to stop using adoption in a negative sense in telenovelas and movies—with the line ‘Ampon ka lang.’ We want adoption to be portrayed as a positive thing.”
 
No to simulated birth certificates
 
Abejo lamented that some people resort to simulating birth certificates so the adopting parents can have their names written as the parents on their children’s birth certificates. They think this is better than going through the legal adoption process.
 
Doing so, however, creates a bigger problem.
 
“Simulation is a crime. Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the child has a right to his identity. Children should know who their parents are. When you put your name in the birth certificate, you deprive a child of that right,” Abejo said.
 
Under Philippine law, those found guilty of simulating birth may be punished with imprisonment of six years and one day to 12 years, and/or a fine not exceeding P50,000.
 
She added that children with simulated birth certificates will have to correct their papers to make everything legal.
 
The legal process
 
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. Approval/disapproval of application
  4. Matching or family selection. The National Child Welfare Specialist Group will deliberate on cases.
  5. Pre-placement of child. Information about the child is shared with the prospective adoptive parents.
  6. Placement. The social worker will bring the child to the prospective adoptive parents.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Issuance of adoption decree. The Court issues an Adoption Decree and Certificate of Finality.
  10. 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.
  11. Post-adoptive services. This will be provided by the social worker as needed
 
The cost of the whole process depends on lawyers’ fees, publication fees, and others, and these may range from P30,000 and up, said Shalim.
 
She also said the whole process of legal adoption may take one to two years.
 
Who are qualified to adopt?
 
Shalim said those deemed to be the “best family” for the child will be allowed by the Court to adopt a child.
 
“They should have the best interest of the child,” she said. Even gays can adopt, she added, but like anyone else, they must exhibit the characteristics that will allow them to be considered the best family for the child.
 
Abejo also clarified that children of annulled parents, such as son Bimby of Kris Aquino and James Yap, need not be adopted by the new spouse if one of the parents decides to remarry.
 
The joy of adopting
 
The De Leon couple, along with Gil and Cecile Velez, and Joanna June Esguerra, shared their story at the media forum.
 
The Velezes have adopted two children, who are blood siblings but who came from different orphanages. The DSWD noted that the birth mother of the two babies were one, and referred the second baby to the Velezes after they had already adopted the first baby.
 
“It was a totally changing experience,” Gil said.
 
Esguerra, on the other hand, started out as a foster parent, but decided to adopt the baby girl placed in her care, even if she already has two sons of her own.
 
They all said they love their adopted children and treat them as their own. In fact, Gil had an appeal: “Don’t call us adoptive parents. We’re parents. Parents kami.”
 
Pepito agreed and said, “after adoption, he becomes our child. Anak mo na ‘yan. You use the term ‘was adopted’ – ‘was’ kasi tapos na. Tapos na ang proseso. Anak mo na ‘yan.” - YA, GMA News
 
For inquiries on domestic adoption, call the DSWD-NCR Adoption Resource and Referral Unit at (632) 734-8622 or 488-2754. For inter-country adoption, call ICAB at (632) 721-9781 or 721-9782, or visit www.icab.gov.ph.



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