How To Adopt a Child in the Philippines: An Ultimate Guide

Are you a childless couple exploring the possibility of adoption to finally fulfill your dream of having a family? Perhaps you want to adopt a relative so you can provide a better life for the child?

With over 1.8 million abandoned and neglected children in the Philippines1, adoption will not only help you to become a parent, but it may also be the best way to help pull out these vulnerable children from poverty. 

In this article, let’s discuss the step-by-step process of adopting a child in the Philippines under domestic adoption, inter-country adoption, and correction of birth records through administrative adoption. Tips and techniques, as well as answers to your most frequently asked questions, are also provided. 

DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for general informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. The use of the information contained herein does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the user/reader.


Table of Contents

What Are the Laws Governing Adoption in the Philippines?

Before going into the details of the process, let us first discuss the three governing laws of adoption.

1. Republic Act 8552 or the Domestic Adoption Act of 19982.

RA 8552 applies to the adoption of Filipino children where the entire adoption process from the filing of the petition up to the issuance of the adoption decree takes place in the Philippines.

2. Republic Act 8043 or the Inter-Country Adoption Act of 19953.

Inter-Country adoption is a process of adopting a Filipino child by a foreigner or a Filipino citizen permanently residing abroad. The filing of the petition, the supervised trial custody, and the Decree of Adoption are all done outside the Philippines. 

3. Republic Act 11222 or the Simulated Birth Rectification Act and Prescribing Administrative Adoption4.

RA 11222 grants amnesty and allows the rectification of the simulated birth of a child where the simulation was made for the best interest of the child, and that such child has been consistently considered and treated by the person or persons who simulated such birth as her, his, or their child.

4. Republic Act No. 11642 or the Domestic Administrative Adoption and Alternative Child Care Act5.

RA 11642 safeguards the custody of every child under the supervision of the parents to establish a home in which fulfills their needs with the right care, love, and protection that will benefit the growth and personality of a child.

The President made adoption easier6 through this law. The National Authority for Child Care (NACC), a one-stop quasi-judicial agency, is now take-in-charge of the responsibilities of all government agencies relating to alternative child care and adoption. It also behests to provide a Regional Alternative Child Care Office (RACCO) for each region to make sure the well-organized system of petition and adoption of a child.


What Are the Different Types of Adoption in the Philippines?

Generally, there are two types of adoption under the three laws mentioned above – regular and relative adoption.

  • Regular adoption usually covers a child in an orphanage or under the care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as the child has been abandoned, neglected, or voluntarily committed by the parents or guardians. Where applicable, the DSWD issues a Certification Declaring a Child Legally Available for Adoption (CDCLAA). 
  • Relative adoption7 refers to the adoption of a child by a relative within the fourth (4th) degree of consanguinity or affinity (i.e., parents, grandparents, siblings, uncle/aunt, first-degree cousin), on which a petition for adoption is directly filed in Family Courts/Regional Trial Courts.

Part I: Domestic Adoption.

how to adopt a child in the philippines 1

Who is this for?

If you are currently residing in the Philippines and want to adopt a child, whether under regular or relative, domestic adoption may be the best option for you.


Who Can Be Adopted in the Philippines?

Specifically, you may adopt the following: 

  1. Any person below 18 years old who has been administratively or judicially declared available for adoption (e.g., a child where DSWD issued CDCLAA)
  2. A legitimate child of the spouse (a situation where your spouse has a legitimate child from a previous marriage) 
  3. An illegitimate child of a qualified adopter (meaning, adopting your illegitimate child to raise the status to be legitimate
  4. Any person 18 years old and above, provided the person has been consistently considered and treated by the adopter as his/her own child since minority
  5. Previously adopted child whose adoption has been rescinded or canceled
  6. A child whose parent(s) has died; however, the adoption process begins only after 6 months from the parent/s death.  

Who Can Adopt a Child in the Philippines?

Any Filipino citizen, foreigner, or guardian can adopt a child in the Philippines, provided the adopter possesses certain qualifications. 

1. For a Filipino citizen, he/she must be:

  • of legal age
  • in possession of full legal capacity and rights
  • of good moral character
  • has not been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude 
  • emotionally and psychologically capable of caring for children
  • at least 16 years older than the adoptee. Exception: The law waives the 16-year gap if the adopter is the biological parent or the spouse of the adoptee’s parent
  • in position to support and care for the children

2. For a foreigner, he/she must possess the same qualifications as above stated for a Filipino citizen, plus:

  • His/her country must have diplomatic relations with the Philippines
  • Must be living in the Philippines for at least three (3) continuous years prior to filing the petition for adoption and until the Decree of Adoption is issued. Exception: The 3-year residency requirement and the legal capacity to adopt may be waived if the foreigner is: (1) a former Filipino citizen who seeks to adopt a relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity; (2) seeking to adopt the legitimate child of his/her Filipino spouse; (3) married to a Filipino citizen, and he/she seeks to adopt jointly with the spouse a relative within the fourth (4th) degree of consanguinity or affinity of the Filipino spouse
  • Must have the legal capacity to adopt in his own country
  • His/her government allows the adoptee to enter his/her home as his/her son or daughter.

3. For a legal guardian, he/she may adopt the ward provided:

  • The guardianship has already been terminated
  • His/her financial accountabilities have already been cleared

How To Adopt a Child Under the Domestic Adoption Law of the Philippines: A Step-by-Step Guide.

In general, there are two stages in the adoption process – the first is the administrative phase (the process before the DSWD), and the second is the judicial phase (the process before a Philippine court). 

Below are the steps in both stages:

FIRST STAGE (Administrative Phase).

Step 1: Express your interest to adopt a child either in DSWD or a Child-Placing Agency.

You may visit the nearest DSWD office to express your interest or fill out DSWD’s Adoption and Foster Care – Expression of Interest online form.

Meanwhile, a Child-Placing Agency (CPA)8 refers to “a duly licensed and accredited agency by the Department to provide comprehensive child welfare services, including but not limited to, receiving applications for adoption, evaluating the prospective adoptive parents, and preparing the adoption home study”.

Currently, only two CPAs are licensed and accredited by the DSWD to implement domestic adoption in the Philippines – The Kaisahang Bahay Foundation, Inc. (KBF) and Norfil Foundation, Inc. 

If you prefer to adopt via a private agency, you may contact KBF and Norfil’s through their website to signify your interest. The DSWD has deputized CPAs to do some of the processes under the administrative phase.  

Note on Relative Adoption: Per confirmation from a DSWD personnel, even if you adopt a relative, the first step is still to go to the DSWD as the latter will conduct a pre-adoption seminar/forum. They highly encourage you to attend the pre-adoption forum to give you an insight into the entire adoption process. Once you get the Certificate of Attendance, you may immediately file the petition for adoption (go to Step 8 – Judicial Phase) in the Family Court/Regional Trial Court where you live. 

However, even if you don’t attend the adoption forum, this is still okay as some courts allow the direct filing of the petition in court. Once filed, the judge will assign and direct a social worker to conduct a case study and submit the necessary reports.

Step 2: Attend the adoption forum/seminar.

The DSWD or the CPA (if the application is filed at the CPA) will conduct a pre-adoption seminar to inform you of the process, including the requirements of adoption. A Certificate of Attendance is issued, which will be attached to the application for adoption. 

Here’s a link to register for the Online Adoption Forum (available as of June 2021) conducted by DSWD Region IV-A. It is free and available for anyone interested to attend.  

Step 3: Submit your application for adoption to the DSWD Field Office or a CPA. 

After attending the seminar, you will now be able to submit your application form9 to the nearest DSWD Field Office or to a CPA. Information such as your identifying data, household composition, your reason for adopting a child, description of the desired child, among others, are required to be indicated in the application.

Step 4: For DSWD/CPA: Prepare the Home Study Report.

After receiving the application, the managing social worker will conduct personal interviews and counseling with the adoptive applicant/s family members and significant others and then prepare a Home Study Report based on all information gathered. 

A Home Study Report (HSR)10 refers to “a written report citing facts on the situation and family background of the Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAP) such as psychosocial, sociocultural, and economic condition/s, cognitive, psychological, medical information. The report also emphasizes the motivation and capacity of the PAPs to provide a home that meets the needs of the child”.

Step 5: For DSWD: Match the child to the prospective adopter/s.

If the application is approved, the adoptive parent’s documents, including the Home Study Report, are submitted to the Adoption Resource and Referral Section (ARRS) of the DSWD Field Office for a matching conference.

Matching11 is the process of “judicious selection of a family for a child based on the child’s needs and in his/her best interest as well as the capability and commitment of the adoptive parents to provide such needs and promote a mutually satisfying parent-child relationship”.

If the DSWD Field Office successfully matches the child and the adopter/s, it will issue a Pre-Adoption Placement Authority (PAPA). PAPA is a document authorizing or confirming the placement of a child to his/her adopter/s. It will also issue a Certificate of Matching to certify that the child was matched during the conference.

Step 6: For the social worker: Transfer the child to the prospective adopter/s.

The managing social worker will prepare the child and the adoptive family emotionally and psychologically before the actual placement. The schedule of the actual transfer of the child to the adopter/s is agreed upon by the concerned parties, which takes place within ten (10) days from receipt of the PAPA.

Step 7: For the social worker and DSWD: Conduct post-placement visits and issue Certificate of Consent to Adoption (CA).

The managing social worker shall conduct the necessary monthly monitoring to assist the adoptive family and the child in their emotional adjustment and readiness for adoption. After assessing satisfactory adjustment between parties, the DSWD issues the Certificate of Consent to Adoption (CA).


SECOND STAGE (Judicial Phase).

Step 8: File petition for adoption in court.

Within 30 days upon receipt of the CA, the adopter/s, with the assistance of the managing social worker,  shall immediately file the petition for adoption in the Family Court/Regional Trial Court where they reside.

Step 9: For the Court: Issue the Order of Hearing.

The court will issue the Order of Hearing if the petition for adoption is proper with complete supporting documents. The Order is also published at least once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the province or city where the court is located. 

Step 10: Attend the court hearing.

The court will hear the adoption case only after six (6) months from the date the Order of Hearing is issued. The adopter/s and the adoptee must personally appear in court during the scheduled hearing. 

Step 11: Complete a supervised trial custody.

Before issuing the Decree of Adoption, the court will order trial custody for six (6) months to give parties time to adjust psychologically and emotionally to each other and to establish a bonding relationship. The social worker assigned in the case monitors the trial custody. 

The trial court may reduce the six-month period or exempt the parties from doing the trial custody if it finds that the same is for the best interest of the child. 

Step 12: For the Court: Issue the Decree of Adoption and Entry of Judgment. 

If the court finds that the supervised trial custody is satisfactory to the parties and the adoption will redound to the benefit of the child, it will issue the Decree of Adoption. 

The court shall also issue a copy of the Decree to the Civil Registrar where the child was originally registered and direct the latter to issue a new birth certificate bearing the child’s new identity.


Part II: Inter-Country Adoption.


Who Is This For?

If you are a foreigner desiring to adopt a Filipino child or a former Filipino citizen currently living abroad who wants to adopt a Filipino or a relative, the inter-country adoption may be the best option for you.


Who May Be Adopted Under the Inter-Country Adoption Law of the Philippines?

1. Any Filipino child below fifteen (15) years of age who has been committed to the DSWD as a dependent, abandoned, or neglected.

However, a Filipino child above 15 may still be adopted provided:

  • The child is part of the sibling group, where one or more is below 15 years old
  • If the filing of the application for adoption of a child is done before the child reached the age of 15 
  • Special Home Finding was initiated before the child’s 15th birthday
  • Other situations where the intent to adopt was manifested before the child reached 15

2. A Filipino child within the 4th degree of consanguinity or affinity of a Filipino citizen permanently residing abroad (Relative Adoption).


Who May Adopt?

Any foreign national or Filipino citizen permanently residing abroad may adopt a child in the Philippines, provided the adopter has the following qualifications:

  1. Must be at least 27 years old
  2. At least 16 years older than the adoptee. Exception: The 16-year gap is waived provided the adoptee is the biological parent or the spouse of the adoptee’s biological parent 
  3. Has the capacity to act and assume all rights and responsibilities of parental authority under his/her national laws, and has undergone appropriate counseling from an accredited counselor in his/her home country
  4. Has not been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude
  5. Eligible to adopt under his/her national law
  6. In a position to provide the proper care and support and to give the necessary moral values and example to all his children, including the child to be adopted
  7. Agrees to hold the basic rights of the child 
  8. Comes from a country with whom the Philippines has diplomatic relations and whose government maintains a similarly authorized and accredited agency and that adoption is allowed under his/her national laws
  9. Possess all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications provided under the laws of the Philippines

How To Adopt a Child Under the Inter-Country Adoption Law of the Philippines: A Step-by-Step Guide.

Similar to domestic adoption, there are generally two stages in the Inter-Country adoption process – the first is the administrative phase, or the process before the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB). The second is the judicial phase which is the process of filing the petition and obtaining the Decree of Adoption at the home country of the applicant

Below are the steps in both stages:

FIRST STAGE (Administrative Phase).

Step 1: Signify your intent to adopt.

You can do this by filing an application for adoption with the ICAB through the Central Authority (CA) or through an accredited Foreign Adoption Agency (FAA) in the country where you reside.

Check out the list of the ICAB’s accredited FAA in your country of residence.

You may download the ICAB’s Application for Inter-Country Adoption form here.

Under Sec. 10 of RA 804312, you may also file a petition for adoption at the Family Court/Regional Trial Court where the child resides or may be found. However, the court will just forward your petition to the ICAB, who will act on your application following their own procedures; hence, it might be best to file your application directly at the ICAB to save time and effort.

Note for Relative Adoption: For relative adoption, you need to fill out the Questionnaire for Relative Adoption Applicants (QRAA). The process of relative adoption is slightly different from regular adoption as you will only bypass certain processes (e.g., matching), but the rest are essentially the same.

Step 2: For the ICAB: Review the adopter’s application.

The ICAB shall evaluate the application within one month from receipt. If the decision is favorable, it will include the adopter/s in the roster of approved applicants. 

The ICAB shall also have a roster of children cleared for inter-country adoption. In the Philippines, the DSWD will first exhaust all possible ways to match the child and be adopted locally to preserve his/her Philippine identity and culture. Only those children that failed to be adopted in the country will be endorsed to the ICAB for inter-country adoption. 

For relative adoption, the DSWD Field Office endorses the certification for inter-country adoption, Child Study Report (CSR), and other supporting documents to the ICAB.

Step 3: For the ICAB: Match the child to the prospective adopter/s.

The ICAB performs a matching conference or the process of matching the child with an applicant. Once the ICAB matches a child to the prospective adopter/s, it will notify the latter of the proposal.

Step 4: For the ICAB: Issue a Placement Authority.

If the adopter/s accepts the ICAB’s proposal, the latter shall issue a Placement Authority. The applicant shoulders the pre-adoptive placement costs (which include the child’s travel, medical and psychological evaluation, and other related expenses, among others).

Step 5: For the child: Undergo a pre-departure preparation.

Before leaving the Philippines, the child is prepared for his/her placement. The pre-departure preparation is done to minimize anxiety and trauma and to ensure that the child is physically able and emotionally ready to travel and form new relationships.

Step 6: Complete trial custody.

The adopter/s shall then personally fetch the child in the Philippines once the visa is issued. He/She needs to stay in the country for at least five (5) days to allow bonding to occur between them.

Trial custody starts upon transfer of the child to the adopter/s.

Step 7: For the ICAB: Issue the Consent to Adoption.

If the trial custody is successful, the ICAB issues the Affidavit of Consent. 


SECOND STAGE (Judicial Phase).

Step 8: File the petition for adoption.

Once the adopter/s obtains the Consent to Adoption, he/she can now file a petition for adoption at the proper court/tribunal/agency following their national law. 

Step 9: For the Court: Issue the Decree of Adoption.

Once the adoption is decreed, a copy thereof is transmitted to the ICAB, including the certificate of Citizenship/naturalization, where applicable.


Part III. Administrative Adoption.

how to adopt a child in the philippines 3

Who is this for?

There are many cases in the Philippines where adoptive parents did not go through the legal process of adoption and simply registered the child as theirs making it appear in the birth certificate that they are the child’s parents. This scenario is a case of simulation of birth records and this is what the law (RA 11122) seeks to address. The law also encourages the adoptive parents to come out in the open by giving them immunity from criminal, civil, and administrative liability.

If you are one of those who simulated the birth record of the child, you may be able to correct the records through administrative adoption provided:

  • The child must be in your custody and has been living with you for at least three (3) years prior to March 29, 2019 (effectivity of RA 11122)
  • You have constantly considered and treated the child as your own son/daughter
  • The child has no original Certificate of Live Birth (COLB) or Certificate of Foundling (meaning, the law will not apply if the child already has two birth records – one original COLB  and one simulated COLB).  
  • The petition for Administrative Adoption with Application for Rectification of Simulated Birth Record is filed on or before March 29, 2029 (applicants are given a 10-year grace period).  

How To Rectify the Simulated Birth Record Through Administrative Adoption: A Step-by-Step Guide.

The entire process of adoption is done at the DSWD. The intent is to make the adoption simpler and less costly.

Step 1: Signify your intent to correct the simulated birth record of the child under your custody.

You may visit the nearest DSWD/Social Welfare Development Office (SWDO) in the city or municipality where the child resides.

Step 2: Attend the adoption forum/seminar.

The social worker at the SWDO will schedule you for a pre-adoption orientation to give you the details and requirements of the adoption process.

Step 3: Obtain a Certificate Declaring a Child Legally Available for Adoption (for non-relative adoption only).

The CDLAA is a certificate you can obtain from the DSWD. It is a basic requirement and one of the supporting documents to be attached in the petition.

For relative adoption, you may immediately file the petition as CDCLAA is not required. 

Step 4: File your petition at the SWDO together with all supporting documents.

The Petition for Administrative Adoption with Application for Rectification of Simulated Birth Record is in the form of an affidavit and filed at the SWDO of the city or municipality where the child resides.

Step 5: For the SWDO: Submit the petition to the DSWD Field Office.

If upon review, the SWDO finds the petition in order, it will forward the documents to the DSWD Field Office. The latter will then assign a social worker to prepare the Social Case Study Report (SCSR). 

The assigned social worker will conduct home visits to establish whether the adopter/s possesses the qualifications under the law and whether the administrative adoption will redound to the best interest of the child. 

Step 6: For the DSWD Field Office: Evaluate the application.

The DSWD Field Officer shall require the child and the applicant to personally appear at the DSWD Field Office for an interview. If the evaluation is favorable, it will recommend to the DSWD Central Office the issuance of the Order of Adoption.

Step 7: For the DSWD Central Office: Issue Order of Adoption.

The Secretary of the DSWD shall act on the recommendation of the DSWD Field Office. If the Secretary finds that the adoption will redound to the benefit of the child, the Order of Adoption is issued. It will also direct the Civil Registrar to:

  • Cancel the simulated birth record of the child
  • Register the rectified birth record of the child under late registration process
  • Issue a new birth certificate indicating the petition/s as the parent/s of the child

Tips and Warnings.

  • If you are adopting your own illegitimate child, it is necessary to obtain the consent of your spouse and legitimate children, even if you have been separated from them for many years. In one case13, the Supreme Court invalidated the adoption of an illegitimate child as the consent of the spouse and children was not properly obtained by the father in violation of Sec. 9 of RA 8552. 
  • If you are married, you and your spouse must jointly adopt (except if your case falls under the exceptions). In one case14, the Supreme Court invalidated the adoption of two children filed solely by the wife without including her second husband as the petitioner.  
  • Filing an administrative adoption to correct the simulated birth record of the child is highly encouraged. The law grants an amnesty; hence, there are no more criminal, civil, and administrative liabilities for those who committed the act. Legalizing the adoption will also give you peace of mind that the legitimacy of the child is not questioned later on by interested heirs.

Frequently Asked Questions.

1. What are the effects of adoption?

  • Parental Authority. All legal ties between the biological parent/s and the adoptee are severed. The legal parent/s is now the adopter/s. 
  • Legitimacy. The adoptee is considered a legitimate child of the adopter/s for all intents and purposes and as such is entitled to all rights and obligations provided by law to legitimate children born to them without discrimination. 
  • Succession. In legal and intestate succession, the adoptee and the adopter/s will have reciprocal rights of succession without distinction from legitimate filiation. 

2. Can adoption be revoked?

Yes, adoption may be rescinded but only by the child/adoptee. The adopter/s cannot rescind the adoption. He/she can only disinherit the adoptee.

The adoptee may rescind the adoption in the following cases:

  •  Repeated physical and verbal maltreatment of the adopter/s
  •  Attempt on his/her life
  • Sexual assault or violence
  • Abandonment and failure to comply with parental obligations

However, please note that the petition to rescind the adoption should be filed within five (5) years from reaching the age of majority or recovering from incapacity.

Once rescinded, it will have the following effects:

  • Parental authority of the biological parents is restored
  • The reciprocal rights of the adopter/s and the adoptee is extinguished
  • The amended birth certificate of the adoptee is canceled, and the original is restored
  • Successional rights of the adoptee will revert to his original status prior to adoption.

3. What are the documents required to support our application/petition for adoption?

Here is the list of documents you need to collate and attach to your application for adoption at the DSWD or the ICAB:

  • Birth Certificate of the prospective adopter/s
  • Marriage Certificate, authenticated Divorce Papers, Annulment Decree, Decree of Nullity, or Legal Separation documents, whichever is applicable
  • Written Consent to the Adoption by the legitimate and adoptive children, and illegitimate children if living with the adopter/s, who are at least 10 years old
  • Physical and Medical Evaluation/Certification issued by a duly licensed physician
  • Psychological Evaluation Report (if appropriate as determined by the social worker)
  • NBI Clearance or Police Clearance
  • Latest Income Tax Return (ITR)
  • Three (3) letters of character reference
  • 3×5 inch size photos of the prospective adopter/s and his/her immediate family members
  • Other requirements as deemed appropriate

Additional requirements for foreign nationals (not applicable for Inter-Country Adoption):

  • Certification that the applicant has the legal capacity to adopt in his/her home country and the child to be adopted can enter his/her country and permanently reside therein as a legitimate child
  • Certificate of Residence in the Philippines issued by the Bureau of Immigration or Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
  • Two (2) character references from non-relatives
  • Police Clearance from all places of residence in the past years prior to residing in the Philippines

Additional requirements if you are filing a Rectification of Birth Records Through Administrative Adoption:

  • Copy of the simulated birth record of the child
  • Affidavit of admission, if the simulation was done by a third person
  • Certification by the Punong Barangay attesting that the applicant/s are bonafide residents of the Barangay and that the child has been living with them for three (3) years prior to March 29, 2019
  • Notarized Affidavits of Two (2) Disinterested Persons, who reside in the same Barangay attesting that the child has been living with the adopter/s for three years prior to March 29, 2019
  • Original copy of the CDLAA if the child is a non-relative
  • PSA-issued copy of Negative Certification of Birth, where applicable

4. Do you need the consent of the biological parents when adopting a child?

Yes, the written consent of the biological parents, if known, is required in adoption. In addition, the written consent of the following is also required:

  • The adoptee, if ten (10) years old or over
  • If parent/s is not known, the legal guardian, or the proper government agency who has custody of the child
  • Legitimate children of the adopter/s and adoptee, if ten years old or over, and illegitimate children if 10 years old and over and living with the adopter/s
  • The spouse of the adopter, or the person to be adopted, if any

5. What happens if you don’t like the child matched to you?

If you decline the proposed child, the DSWD will require you to submit a written explanation citing the reason for non-acceptance. If your reason is valid, your application will still be considered. If you refuse again for the second time, the matching is put on hold pending a reassessment of your case.

6. Can you choose the gender or age of the baby to be adopted?

The adopter’s preference as to the gender of the child may be considered. However, the adopter/s cannot choose the exact age of the child to be adopted. What will be considered are brackets. For example, you may select from ages 0.6 months – 2 years old, two and a half months old, more than three years old, etc. Your choice is always subject to deliberation by the matching committee.

7. Can a single person adopt a child in the Philippines?

 Yes, a single Filipino citizen, foreigner, or legal guardian may adopt a child in the Philippines provided he/she possesses all the qualifications of an adopter.

8. How much is the cost of adoption in the Philippines?

The adoption services of the DSWD are free. 

The bulk of the cost will come from payment for professional services of a lawyer who will assist you in drafting the petition for adoption, publication of the Order of Hearing, filing and court fees, securing of documents, and other related costs.

For inter-country adoption, the following are the fees to be paid to the ICAB:

  • Application Fee – US$200
  • Processing fee – US$2,000 for single placement, and US$3,000 for a sibling group of 2 or more
  • Pre-adoptive placement costs – vary from one child to another depending on where the child is coming from and going to.

The figures do not include ancillary costs such as visa processing fees, flight costs, the cost for securing travel documents, filing the petition for adoption in the country of residence, post-adoption services, among others.

9. How long is the adoption process in the Philippines?

For domestic adoption, the entire process will take approximately one and a half years to two years or even more depending on the circumstances. From the DSWD’s perspective, it will take approximately 15 months from the start of the assessment of the application of the adopter/s to the closure of the case.

Please note that in the judicial phase, the court will hear the petition for adoption only after the lapse of 6 months from the date of the Order of Hearing and will only issue the Decree of Adoption only after the lapse of 6 months from trial custody.

You should expect the adoption process to take longer than expected as several factors could affect the timeline, e.g. availability of the information or documents required for the application, the nature and complexities of the reports and studies to be conducted, the schedule of the court, and postponement of hearings due to unforeseen events, among others.

For inter-country adoption, the processing time from clearance of the child to the entrustment of the child to the adopter/s is approximately 163 – 442 working days. The processing time from the endorsement of the adopter’s dossier to placement of the child is 832 – 1457 working days. 

This period does not include the processing of travel documents, waiting period for visa notification, filing of the adoption case in the country of residence of the adopter/s, and post-adoption phase, among others.

For rectification of birth records through administrative adoption, the process should be shorter given the decision on the application is done entirely by the DSWD.

10. What is the least expensive way to adopt a child?

The adoption services of the DSWD are free. The bulk of the expenses will come from the professional services of a lawyer who will assist you in drafting the petition and providing legal advice on the process. To minimize the cost, you might want to look for NGOs or lawyer organizations providing free legal services.   

11. Can someone just give you their baby without going through the formal adoption process?

No. The government’s general policy is to ensure that every child remains under the care and custody of the parents. Any child placed with an unrelated person should be reported immediately to the DSWD or nearest Local Social Welfare Office for appropriate action. 

Please also note that simulation of birth (fictitious registration of the birth of the child under the name of the person who is not the child’s biological parent/s) is a criminal act punishable under the law.

If you want to keep the child, you may seek the assistance of the DSWD as the latter will assess whether the stay of the child with you  is for the child’s best interest. If you are qualified, the Department will assist you to legalize the adoption.

If you do not like to go through adoption, you may explore Guardianship (apply as the legal guardian of the child).

12. Can a gay or same-sex couple adopt in the Philippines?

Yes, a gay or any member of the LGBTQ community may be able to adopt in the Philipines as the law does not discriminate on the adopter’s’ sexual orientation or gender identity. As long as he/she possesses all the qualifications and will submit all the required documents, the petition may be granted. 

However, please note that regardless of whether the applicant is a female, male, couple, or member of the LGBTQ community, the guiding principle in adoption cases is always the best interest of the child. The DSWD and the court must first be satisfied that the separation of the child from his/her biological parents and transferring the parental authority to the prospective adopter is for the child’s benefit.

As to same-sex couples, adopting a child as a couple is not possible as same-sex marriage is still not allowed in the Philippines.

13. Can a biological father adopt his own child in the Philippines? 

Yes, a father adopting his child (presumably illegitimate) can be done in the Philippines. This is one of the scenarios contemplated by RA 8552 to raise the status of the child, thus, giving him/her the same benefits afforded to a legitimate child. 



  1. Kaiman, J., & De Leon, S. (2016). The Philippines has 1.8 million abandoned children. Here’s what keeps many from adoption. Retrieved 30 June 2021, from
  2. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Republic Act No. 8552 (Domestic Adoption Act of 1998). Manila, Philippines.
  3. Republic Act No. 8043 (The Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995).
  4. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Republic Act No. 11222 (Simulated Birth Rectification Act) (2019).
  5. Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Republic Act No. 11642 (Domestic Administrative Adoption and Alternative Child Care Act of 2022)
  6. Parrocha, A. (2022). Law simplifying adoption process for Filipino children inked. Retrieved 17 January 2022, from
  7. Department of Social Welfare and Development. (2020). Memorandum Circular No. 13 (p. 6).
  8. Department of Social Welfare and Development. (2020). Memorandum Circular No. 13 (p. 3).
  9. Department of Social Welfare and Development. (2020). Memorandum Circular No. 13 (Annex L, p. 3)
  10. Department of Social Welfare and Development. (2020). Memorandum Circular No. 13 (p. 4)
  11. Department of Social Welfare and Development. (2020). Memorandum Circular No. 13 (p. 5)
  12. Republic Act 8043 (The Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995), Section 10
  13. Castro vs. Gregorio, G.R. No. 188801 (Supreme Court of the Philippines 2014).
  14. In Re: Petition for Adoption of Michelle and Michael Jude P. Lim, G.R. Nos. 168992-93 (Supreme Court of the Philippines 2009).

Atty. Kareen Lucero

Kareen Lucero is a lawyer previously doing litigation before working for different agencies in the government and for a multinational corporation. She has traveled to 52+ countries including a 3-month solo backpacking in South East Asia and more than 1 year of solo traveling across four continents in the world. As part of giving back, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge of law and travel. She is currently doing consulting work for a government agency.

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