NACC Celebrates Adoption & Alternative Child Care Awareness towards a New Beginning of Every Child Matters
Adoption and foster care are never easy, but they change lives for generations to come. This was incredibly clear in the celebration that the National Authority for Child Care (NACC) held for Adoption & Alternative Child Care Awareness Week. More than the celebration, the stories reinforced for the audience that when our community and nation come together, we can change the lives of children and the families they become part of or build as their own.
The Celebration for Adoption & Alternative Child Care Awareness Week 2023, hosted by the National Authority for Child Care (NACC), was held at the Gloria Maris Restaurant in Greenhills and online Via zoom.
The NACC proactively declares that "Every Child Matters" to acknowledge the progress towards ending the orphan crisis. It is a call to arms for awareness and action to protect Filipino children from violence and ensure that every child finds a loving home.
Our National Authority for Child Care, Child Caring Agencies (CCA), Child Placement Agencies (CPA), Safe Havens, NACC ambassadors, adoptive families, aged-out individuals, and advocates celebrated how the adoption space has grown in the past year and how each organization and community is bringing awareness to the orphan crisis in the Philippines.
The leaders of the NACC showed their support, namely the Under Secretary. Hon. Janella Ejercito Estrada, Assistant Secretary. of NACC Arezu Jam, ASEC. Relova, and other representatives.
Celebrating the past year
Moreover, The community celebrated NACC's achievements in the past year and months which highlighted the signing of the Inter-Agency Against Child Trafficking on Implementing Rules and Regulations (IACAT IRR) — NACC lauded the signing of the IRR of R.A. 11930 or the Anti-online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) and Anti-child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials (CSAEM) Act*, along with the Launch of the Domestic Administrative Adoption and Alternative Child Care Act R.A. 11642.
Other triumphs for NACC: 5,053 children were processed and determined to be eligible for adoption, 657 were declared legally available for adoption, and 56 were matched for domestic adoption from Jan to May 2023. We are thrilled to hear that more children will soon be legally eligible to be welcomed home by caring families.
USEC Ejercito shared that the new Act has made the adoption process faster by 4-9 months. She reiterated the pursuit of meeting every child's best interests, saying, “Mobility restriction or any reason was never an excuse to set aside the determination for our child's future.”
Stories from the community
After celebrating these amazing updates, people from every side of the orphan crisis shared their stories. Not all stories had the endings we might hope for, but all of them showed hope for the future we can make together.
The long-time adoptive parent and active advocate Gil Perez spoke about his journey in adopting first Rafa and then Rafa's sibling, Angel, who would have been separated from her brother through inter-country adoption. Inter-country adoption may seem like a more promising future for a child; however, it separates families, whether the waiting child has a sibling or known biological parents. He honored the DWSD and Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF) for their hard work in reuniting Rafa and Angel through adoption into his loving family home.
This story was followed by another touching story of newly adoptive parents, Pastor Jeck and Mrs. Levi Rota, who adopted Lucas into their home. In their story, their spiritual adoption into God's family was what had individually implanted their desire to adopt. We were both surprised and delighted to discover that it was a previous consultation with Generations—Home (still just an advocacy at the time) that helped them explore the concept and process of adoption before they continued it with KBF. They are happy and grateful that the new law makes the process of future parents much less costly.
“Despite the legal fees financially, and being adoptive parents has brought a lot of fear and anxieties…the RA 11642 was passed as [part of] our answered prayer,” says Mrs. Levi Rota.
Even testimonies on foster care were shared. Arceli Ricafort shared that over a span of 40 years, she fostered 23 children just because one KBF worker asked her to take care of one child, and she chose to say yes, which shows how a small impact can bring a big change to a child’s life even if through foster care. For Arceli, Fostering children can be a challenge in the long run, but every child she fostered brought immense joy and heart to care for the children of KBF.
However, not all the testimonies shared had what we would call an “ideal” ending. The reality of the orphan crisis is that lack of action can deprive children of families.
A police officer named Randy is currently assigned to Dasmariñas City Jail in Cavite. He had been raised in foster care for 17 years and was never able to find a permanent family. With deep emotion, he expressed his gratitude towards all foster parents, particularly his own foster family, for giving him the opportunity to experience love. He stressed the significance of a child being nurtured by a family and concluded his story by sharing his firm belief that every child deserves a caring and loving family. As of 2021, there are only 1,275 licensed foster parents in the Philippines (DSWD).
25-year-old Connie Geraldine Dela Cruz was taken care of by the family her mother worked for. As part of their effort to find a solution, the family reached out to the DSWD and eventually decided that Connie would live independently of them. Connie did not allow this turn of events to dictate her future, and she bravely took the opportunity for a second chance at life. She was fortunate to finish a college degree through the help of KBF, and is now an IT coordinator at a small private company.
With a grateful heart, she said, "mas maswerte pa ako kasi hindi ko mararanasan na manlimos sa kalsada.” (I am more fortunate because I never had to experience begging on the streets.) She finished with a statement, “Hindi hadlang ang nakaraan para makapagtapos ang mga bata, kaya libre lang mangarap.” (The past does not need to hinder a child's ability to finish their education, which is why they should freely dream.)
These success stories were made possible because of the hard work invested by our social workers and childcare agencies that give hope to Filipino children. It gives the present waiting children hope that with so many advocates and organizations standing with them, they too may be welcomed into a loving and forever family.
Signing of the Covenant Wall
At the end of the event, a Covenant Wall was signed by representatives from NACC, including USEC Janella Ejercito Estrada, ASEC of Operations Arezu Jam, and ASEC of Finances and Administration Glenda Relova. Other signatories included Imelda R. Ronda, Head Division Adoption at NACC, Mely V. Reluya, Executive Director of White Cross Inc., Gina Escalante, Division Chief of Alternative Child Care Division, and Irene S. Fagayan of Intercountry Division. Child Placement Committee (CPC) members, such as Dr. Joseph Regalado, Dr. Nina Sy, and Atty. Fina Tantuico, and KBF Director Glady Bunao. NACC ambassadors like Arelene Mulach and Ricky Davao, and other notable guests, including CCA and CPAs also added their signatures and wrote short messages.
Our Executive Director of Generations—Home, Chrina Henson, and Director for Advocacy and Partnerships, Jasmine Buen, also signed, sharing their support at this occasion and for years to come.
A premiere of two short films directed by Enzo Williams, Last Game and New Hero, were shown, which portrayed the realities and challenges of adoption from both the children's and parents’ points of view. At the same time, the films gave the audience a glimpse of the heart of adoption. You can see the public viewing from last June 18.
The last segment held a Q&A on laws regarding the change in adoption and the adoption process. For the full segment, you may want to view the NACC's Adoption & Alternative Child Care Week Facebook live stream.
To develop more adoptive and foster families for the waiting children, USEC. Ejercito proudly announced that NACC Forums would be held monthly to fight to raise awareness unceasingly. This celebration highlighted that the NACC’s achievements have given hope to our Filipino children and families that as we continue our efforts, it is not in vain until we bring every child into a family. We look forward to more children being welcomed home into loving families and to a definite end to the orphan crisis.
Isabel Constantino is an intern under the advocacy aeam at Generations—Home. She is a 3rd Year student majoring in International Studies at Miriam College.
She chose to intern at Generations—Home because she wants to take part in carrying the burden to end the orphan crisis by bringing children a step closer to a forever home, even through this short internship.