Posted by: Worldcitizen Willow | June 13, 2010

Domestic adoption: Philippines


How to Adopt a Child:

Adoption is defined as a socio-legal process of providing a permanent family to a child whose parents have voluntarily or involuntarily relinquished parental authority over the child.

Adoption is for children who cannot be reared by their biological parents and who need and can benefit from new and permanent family ties. Adoption provides the same mutual rights and obligations that exist between children and their biological parents. It comprises of social work and other professional services that are required in the placement of children in adoptive families.

Children whose parents are either absent or unable to function as parents require the protection of the State. Protection of the child requires sufficient study to make certain that the placement is suitable and present no hazard to the child’s growth and development. The State through the Department of Social Welfare and Development has a concern in every adoption including those by stepparents and relatives.

There are three types of adoption in the Philippines:

1. Agency adoptions are those in which a licensed adoption agency finds and develops adoptive families for children who are voluntarily or involuntarily committed. The adoptive families go through the process from application to finalization of the child’s adoption under the auspices of the Department of Social Welfare and Development or a licensed child-placing agency like the Kaisahang Buhay Foundation. Through this type of adoption, the legal rights of the child, the parents who gave birth to the child and the parents who will adopt the child, are all equally protected.

2. Family or relative adoptions are those where the biological parents make a direct placement of the child to a relative or a member of their extended family with whom they relinquish their child.

3. Private or independent adoptions could either be a direct placement to a family known by the child’s biological parents or through the use of an intermediary or a go-between. In an intermediary placement, an individual knows of parents who want to have their child adopted and arranges such placement to a family or someone who wants to adopt. These intermediaries are generally well-meaning and have good intentions. However, one must be wary of “black market” placements which involve an intermediary who brings together a person who has a child and individuals who want to adopt, for the sole purpose of making a profit. This practice does not consider the best interests of the child nor the legal rights of biological parents and adoptive parents.

The following are components of adoption:

  • Recruitment of potential adoptive families who may provide a home to a child;
  • Development of adoptive applicants as parents to a particular child in need of a home;
  • Selection of a family who can best contribute to the total development of a particular child;
  • Preparation of the child and family prior to placement to insure acceptance and readiness for the new relationship;
  • Supervision of trial custody for at least six months to facilitate the child’s adjustment in the family prior to the completion of adoption;
  • Preparation for removal of the child from the adoptive home if the placement disrupts while alternative plans are being worked out;
  • Finalization of adoption and termination of service with issuance of the final decree of adoption and amended birth certificate;
  • Organization of groups of adoptive parents as part of support system; and
  • Post-legal adoption counselling when adoptive family and adoptee need further counselling related to information about adoptee’s background and search for his/her biological parents.

Effects of Adoption

  • Sever all legal ties between the biological parent(s) and the adoptee, except when the biological parent is the spouse of the adopter;
  • Deem the adoptee as a legitimate child of the adopter;
  • Give adopter and adoptee reciprocal rights and obligations arising from the relationship of parent and child, including but not limited to;
  • The right of the adopter to choose the name the child is to be known; and
  • The right of the adopter and adoptee to be legal and compulsory heirs of each other.

See also: DSWD’s online application and processing for local adoption

How to Adopt a
Child in the Philippines :

    Persons considering intercountry adoption have a right to accurate information about these adoptions and the process involved. Such information will enable them to make informed decisions on initiating and completing such an adoption, the kind of child/ren they can best parent, and whether they are willing to make the lifetime commitment which is required.

The Intercountry Adoption Board (ICAB) is mandated by law (Intercountry Adoption Law of 1995 or Republic Act 8043) to be the Central Authority on matters relating to the foreign adoption placement of Filipino children to applicants who are either former Filipinos or foreigners permanently residing abroad. The Intercountry Adoption (ICA) Law stipulates certain eligibility requirements for adoptive applicants intending to adopt a Filipino child who may either be a relative or non-relative.

In the Philippines, Filipino children need to be made socio-legally free for adoption prior to any kind of alternative family placement. In line with the ICAB’s mandated authority is the compliance of the Philippines to an international instrument, The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Inter-country Adoption, to which the Philippines is a State Party and is denominated as a Sending Country.

Who is Eligible to Adopt?

Any foreign national or a Filipino citizen permanently residing abroad may file an adoption application if he/she::

1. Is at least twenty-seven (27) years of age and is at least sixteen (16) years older than the child to be adopted at the time of the application, unless the applicant is the parent by nature of the child to be adopted or is the spouse of such parent by nature. A maximum of forty-five (45) years age gap between the adoptive child should be maintained except in cases where the circumstances will be favorable to the child;

2. Has the capacity to act and assume all the rights and responsibilities incidental to parental authority under his/her national law;

3. Has been married for three (3) years;

4. Has undergone appropriate counseling from an accredited counselor in his/her country;

5. Has not been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude;

6. Is eligible to adopt under his/her national law;

7. Can provide the proper care and support and give the necessary moral values and example to the child and, in the proper case, to all his/her other children;

8. Comes from a country with whom the Philippines has diplomatic relations, maintains foreign adoption agencies, and whose laws allows adoption; and

9. Files jointly with his/her spouse, if any, who shall have the same qualifications and none of the disqualifications to adopt as prescribed above.

Where to Apply?

The application shall be filed with the ICAB through the Central Authority (CA) on Inter-country Adoption or an ICAB accredited Foreign Adoption Agency (FAA) or Governmental Adoption Agency  (GAA) in the country where the applicant resides.

Foreigners who file their petition for adoption in the Philippines under the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998 or RA 8552, the Court after finding the petition to be sufficient in form and substance and a proper case for inter-country adoption, shall immediately transmit the petition to the ICAB for appropriate action.  The ICAB shall then act on the application following the procedures described in the Amended Implementing Rules and Regulations.

Fees and Other Charges

These fees are provided for by Article III Section 13 of the Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995 (RA 8043) and Section  29 and 40 of the  Amended Implementing Rules and Regulations on Inter-Country Adoption. Effective February 2007, the ICAB fees which  applies  to all adoption categories (Regular or Non-Relative, Relative, Special Needs, Special Home Finding, Summer Program and Medical Missions) are as follows :

  • 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; US $3,000.00 for sibling group of 2 or more (as of October 13, 2007)
  • Pre-adoptive placement costs— The amount varies from one child to another depending on what part of the Philippines the child comes from and what country he/she is going to. Some Embassies of the Receiving Countries charge visa fees and require visa medical examinations while others do not. The total amount will be quoted by the ICAB in the placement proposal. (Payment upon acceptance of the matching proposal)
  • The finalized Local Adoption cases requiring  ICAB’s  ratification has its own  schedule of fees.
  • The ICAB also supports the request of the Association of the Child Caring Agencies of the Philippines (ACCAP) to increase its Child Care Support Fund (CCSF) from US$ 500.00 to US$ 1,000.00 per placement.
  • These new fees will not affect prospective adoptive parents whose adoption applications were received by the ICAB prior to February 2007 and are currently awaiting approvals and child proposals. This means that once these families receive a match, they will still pay the processing  fee of US$ 900.00.
  • All payments (except for the CCSF which shall be addressed to the child caring agency where the child came from) shall be in the form of a company check or international bank draft and shall be made payable to the Inter-country Adoption Board. Personal checks, travelers checks or cash WILL NOT be accepted.
  • No adoption application will be processed and no Placement Authority will be issued unless the corresponding fees are received by the ICAB.

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 with lacking information and/or documents are reviewed and processed depending upon the  submission/completion by the Central Authority/Foreign Adoption Agency (CA/FAA) of the  requested information and/or documents  with the corresponding delay in its approval.
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).  This usually takes nine (9) months to one (1) year after  the PAPs’ approval. Willingness to accept a special needs child generally shortens the waiting period  for child allocation.

Children Available for Inter-Country Adoption

1. Children available for intercountry adoption placement are those who cannot be placed with an adoptive family in the Philippines.
(For relative adoption – only up to the 4th degree of consanguinity)

2. All children have to be cleared for intercountry adoption by the Competent Authority – Programs and Projects Bureau of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (PPB DSWD)-Central Office.

3. Children of either sex are usually available but there may be longer waiting period for girls because of the Filipino culture whereby families hold on to their daughters since they are generally more submissive, less difficult to parent and can be relied upon to care for their family of origin even until parental senescence occurs.

4. The allowable age of Filipino children for Intercountry Adoption (ICA) is below 15 years old. A child who is above 15 years old may be processed for ICA when the following circumstances prevail:

a. When the child is a part of a sibling group where one or more is below 15 years old;
b. If the application for adoption of a child was filed (in cases of relative adoption) before the child reached the age of 15;
c. Special Home Finding was initiated before the child’s 15th birthday; and
d. Other situations where the intent to adopt was manifested before the child reached 15.

5. The general ages of children cleared for intercountry adoption usually range from 6 months to 10 years old.

6. Special Needs or Hard to Place children include

  • older children (usually boys or girls age 6 to 15 years old)
  • Sibling groups of 3 or more
  • Children with major medical/physical problems
  • Children with major developmental/neurological delay/handicap


Any adoption applicant interested in adopting a Filipino child/ren (either relative or non-relative) may contact the nearest Central Authority on Intercountry Adoption of their country (if Ratifier or State Party to The Hague Convention) or any ICAB accredited Foreign Adoption Agency who is responsible in these Prospective Adoptive Parents preparation and conduct of their Home Study Report.

Documentary Requirements:

1. Home Study Report
2. Undertaking of the Couple made under oath (refer to Application Form)
3. Information and Personal Data Application (refer to Application Form)
4. Birth Certificate of the Couple (if adopting a relative: Birth Certificate of their common ancestry delineating relationship up to the 4th degree of consanguinity)
5. Marriage Contract
6. Divorce Decree (if applicable)
7. Physical and Medical Evaluation Report
8. Psychological Evaluation by a duly licensed psychiatrist or psychologist.
9. Written Consent to Adoption by the biological and/or adopted children who are 10 years of age or over witnessed by the social worker after proper counseling, in the form of a sworn statement.
10. Character Reference from (a) Local Church Minister or Priest; (b)Employer; (c) Members of the immediate community (who have all known the applicants for at least 5 years).
11. Latest Income Tax Return or any other documents showing the financial capability of the applicant.
12. Clearance issued by the police or the proper government agency of the place where the applicant resides.
13. Certification from the Justice Department or other appropriate government agency of the applicant’s country that the applicant is qualified to adopt under their national law and that the child to be adopted is allowed to enter the country for trial custody and to reside there permanently once adopted.
14. Letter of Acceptance of the Designated Guardian/s
15. Recent post card size pictures of the applicant, his immediate family and their home/community
16. Special Needs Checklist (refer to Application Form)
17. Self-Report Questionnaire (OPTIONAL)
18. Adoption Decree of the PAPs’ previously  adopted Filipino child

• All documents must be written, officially translated in English and must be officially endorsed by the Central Authority on Intercountry Adoption or ICAB accredited Foreign Adoption Agency to the ICAB in the Philippines.

• All communications relating to adoption application/s and/or child referral shall be transmitted by the Central Authority or by the ICAB accredited Foreign Adoption Agency directly to the ICAB. Likewise, all ICAB correspondence/communications shall be transmitted directly to the concerned Central Authority and/or the Foreign Adoption Agency.

• All the Philippine process for Intercountry Adoption (ICA) does NOT require the intervention of a lawyer either in the Philippines or from the applicant’s country of residence.


Relative Adoption as applies to inter-country adoption refers to the adoption of Filipino child/ren by relatives residing abroad within the fourth (4th) degree of consanguity.

Modified Procedure for Relative Adoption Cases (as approved by the Board on August 30, 2007)

1. The Questionnaire for Relative Adoptive Applicants (ICAB Form No.2) which can be downloaded from this website shall be submitted by the prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) to the Central Authorities (CAs)/ Foreign Adoption Agencies(FAAs). The CAs/FAAs shall endorse to ICAB the completed Questionnaire for Relative Adoptive Applicants (QRAA) with the agency’s assessment and recomendation on the prospective adoptive parents.

2.  If the CA/FAA favorably recommends the PAPs, the ICAB social worker will then request the CA/FAA to proceed with the preparation of the PAPs’ dossier. On the other hand, based on the significant data on the child as indicated in the QRAA, the assigned ICAB Social Worker will request the DSWD – Field Office (FO) to conduct the Child Study Report with supporting documents. Periodic follow-ups will be made with the DSWD-FO.(The time frame from request to ICAB’s receipt of the report will be 3-6 months. In sitautions where the FO could not prepare the Child Study Report within the expected time  frame in view of heavy adoption caseload, the ICAB social worker will assist in the conduct of the CSR).

3. Once the ICAB receives from the DSWD-FO the child’s dossier and the complete adoption application dossier of the PAPs from the CA or FAA, the ICAB social worker will prepare an executive summary on the case with his/her recommendation on the child’s adoptive placement for the disposition of the Board.


Former Filipino citizens who are naturalized citizens of their present country of residence have the option to pursue their proposed relative adoption cases through the Philippine Regional Trial Courts or Family Courts. Under the Philippine Domestic Adoption Law ( Republic Act 8552), these former Filipino citizens are qualified to adopt in the Philippines as long as their prospective adoptive child/ren are related to them within the 4th degree by consanguinity or affinity. In most cases, their adoption petitions are granted by the Courts. However, when they apply for their adopted child/ren’s visa, they are required by their Embassies (except for non-Hague countries) to secure the ICAB’s Certificate of Conformity to their local adoption as well as the approval of the Central Authority of their country of residence. This is in compliance to Chapter IV, Article 17 of The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children & Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (THC) which states that ” Any decision in the State of Origin (in this case, the Philippines) that a child should be entrusted to prospective adoptive parents may only be made if – “(c) the Central Authorities of both the Sending Countries (in this case, the ICAB) and Receiving States (in this case, Adoptive Parents’ country of residence) have agreed that the adoption may proceed.”

As the Central Authority on Inter-Country Adoption  in the Philippines, the ICAB is required to issue a Certificate of Conformity to the child/ren’s local adoption. Please note, however, that the ICAB does not automatically issues this document. The adoptive parents need to apply for the ratification of their local adoption cases.

Below are our  requirements in ratifying local adoption cases:

For the child/ren :

1.  Certified True Copy of the Adoption Decree issued by the Philippine Court

2.  Certified True Copy of the Certificate of Finality issued by the Clerk of Court

3.  Child Study Report

4.  Amended Birth Certificate

5.  Deed of Voluntary Commitment or Affidavit of Consent signed by birthparents

6.  Decree of Abandonment (in casesof abandoned children)

7.  Affidavit of Consent to Adoptionof Adoptee ( over 10 years old)

8.  Two most recent close-up photos, 2 whole body size photos and at least 3 copies of pictures of adoptee with the PAPs.

For the Adoptive Parent/s ( Please refer to the list of ICA requirements)

Note: The adoptive parents’ application must be duly endorsed by the Central Authority/Foreign Adoption Agency(FAA) of the PAPs’ country of residence. There will be an application fee of One  Hundred Dollars (US$100.00)  through a company check or international bank darft made payable to ICAB.

Procedure :

When all these documents of both the child/ren and the adoptive parents are received by the ICAB,  the social worker assigned to the case will review  their  documents to determine whether the local adoption was done in accordance with the provisions of both the Philippine Domestic Adoption Law and The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Inter-country adoption;

Through an Executive Summary of the case, the ICAB social worker will present its assessment and recommendation on this finalized local adoption for the disposition of the Board;

The ICAB Secretariat will officially inform the PAPs through their Central Authority/FAA on the Board’s decision on the case;

Once the case is ratified by the Board, the adoptive parents through their Central Authority/FAA shall pay the Nine Hundred US Dollars (US$900.00) processing  fee to the ICAB

Upon receipt of the adoptive parents’ payment  for the processing fee, the ICAB will issue the Certificate of Conformity to the finalized local adoption both to the PAPs’ Central Authority and to the concerned Embassy;

The PAPs or the child’s guardian may now coordinate with the concerned Embassy for the issuance of the child/ren’s visa.

To inquire or follow-up with the ICAB, you can telephone, fax or e-mail:
Phone: (632) 726-4568
(632) 721-9781
(632) 721-9782
Fax: (632) 727-2026
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These requirements and fees may change at any time.

For more questions on Inter-Country Adoption, check out

See also: DSWD’s online application for accredited foreign adoption agencies applying for inter-country adoption



  1. This is from the Intercountry Adoption Board. ICAB browsed through the articles and noted the link above “DSWD’s Online Application for accredited Foreign Adoption Agencies Applying for Intercountry Adoption.” ICAB wishes to clarify and point out that the DSWD does not accredit foreign adoption agencies to participate int eh Philippine intercountry adoption program. It is only the ICAB as mandated by law (RA 8043) which has the authority and regulatory function to accredit foreign adoption agencies wanting to participate in the Philippine ICA program. The link indicated above refers to DSWD’s application process, procedures and requirements for Social Welfare Agency wanting to be licensed and accredited as a SWDA. Hope this will clarify the issue and not confuse readers.

  2. This is from the Intercountry Adoption Board. ICAB browsed through the articles and noted the link above “DSWD’s Online Application for accredited Foreign Adoption Agencies Applying for Intercountry Adoption.” ICAB wishes to clarify and point out that the DSWD does not accredit foreign adoption agencies to participate in the Philippine intercountry adoption program. It is only the ICAB as mandated by law (RA 8043) which has the authority and regulatory function to accredit foreign adoption agencies wanting to participate in the Philippine ICA program. The link indicated above refers to DSWD’s application process, procedures and requirements for local Social Welfare Agency wanting to be licensed and accredited as a SWDA. Hope this will clarify the issue and not confuse readers.

  3. What is the proper procedure for adopting an adult? I’m a British Citizen with permanent residency in the Philippines through marriage to a Filipina. My wife’s daughter ( my stepdaughter) is now 32 but we’d like to formally adopt her as we’ve been advised this is possible. We all live in the Philippines and have been married for 21 years. My wife is 59, I’m 56.

  4. How much do i spend adopting a child in the phil. If i myself is a filipino?

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