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How Long Is The Adoption Journey In The Philippines?

While adoption can be truly a special journey for many families, the reality is that it can take a painfully long time. What may be some causes of the delays?

Through adoption, families open their hearts to a child and provide them with the love and support they need. As one of our Prospective Adoptive Parents puts it:

“Adoption is primarily about the child who needs a family simply because he or she is a human being who deserves one, regardless of the circumstances into which he or she was innocently born.”

But the adoption journey is far from perfect. It undeniably also has a fair share of hardships that can test the spirits of those involved in this journey. Because it takes time, many people become hesitant about adopting. In this article, we will delve into why adoption might take longer than expected and what families can do while waiting for their adoption journey to be completed.

This article is created in collaboration with the children's home Kids With Purpose International.

Many families waiting, even more children waiting

Many ask:

“If there are so many children who are waiting to be adopted, why does it seem that there are fewer children and too many waiting families?”

One reason is that many waiting Filipino children in institutional care still need a Certificate Declaring a Child Legally Available for Adoption (CDCLAA). For a child to be legally adopted by any family, they must first have their CDCLAA.

Issuing a CDCLAA requires a fair share of due diligence on the end of social workers handling the cases of waiting children. Social workers must make sure that children in orphanages or foster homes have no biological relative who can or is willing to take care of the child.

Without the CDCLAA, children cannot begin their adoption journeys.

What might add to the length of the process?

In our experience serving families at Generations—Home, we identified some factors that tend to lengthen the adoption journey for Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs). Every case is different, and there may be factors that lengthen the process specific to certain situations.

1. Securing documents

Like any government process, the adoption process has a fair share of documents that need to be submitted to the social worker handling a case. The documents include birth certificates, marriage certificates, and a Certificate of No Marriage Record (CENOMAR) for those who are single. These documents need to be completed to be approved as adoptive parents.

To learn more about the requirements to start your adoption journey, click here to attend our online Adoption and Foster Care Forum.

Once this approval is issued, PAPs can officially start the adoption process. Sometimes, PAPs can have their complete documents in a span of two weeks such as Issa Tica—an active advocate and volunteer at Generations—Home.

However, most PAPs go beyond this mark, due to work, travel, and financial or situational considerations. Some PAPs are still in the process of compiling their complete documentary requirements after a year as they make the best decisions for themselves and their future family.

Here are some important things to consider with the lead time in completing documentary requirements:

  • Personal time devoted to managing securing documents alongside other commitments;

  • The commitment to adoption, which also entails the commitment and understanding of loved ones;

  • The availability of individuals you need to tap (i.e. doctors, psychologists, friends, and/or family) to help you comply with certain requirements such as medical evaluations and recommendation letters.

Ultimately, the duration of securing the required documents varies on a case-to-case basis. The journey can be long, but the ball is in the family’s court.

2. Matching

Matching is the phase in the adoption journey in which PAPs are asked what their preferences are in terms of the child’s sex, age, and special situations. The list of special situations may include special needs, sibling groups, and more.

Families with complete documents and children with CDCLAAs are lined up for matching and attend a matching conference. These regional conferences are facilitated by the Regional Alternative Child Care Office (RACCO), the regional arm of the NACC tasked to monitor and process adoption cases of a particular region.

The regional level

Matching starts at the regional level wherein children in the matching pool are matched with PAPs from the same region. For instance, children in the National Capital Region (NCR) are matched with PAPs who come from NCR. Regional matching conferences happen every two weeks.

The interregional level

If there is no match at the regional level, parents then are matched with other children from other regions. This is what is called interregional matching. Interregional matching conferences happen once every month.

International matching

The last resort for the children is inter-country matching. A child is only elevated to inter-country matching when all other options have been exhausted. This tends to happen for older children or children with special needs, as they are rarely if ever considered “adoptable” in the Philippines.

3. Managing preferences

However, the children in the matching pools at the moment may be different than the PAPs’ preferences. Because of this, PAPs wait for succeeding matching conferences to be matched.

One way that PAPs can manage this step would be to consider flexibility in their preferences. These can be gradual changes such as increasing the preferred age range for their child, which some PAPs have actually done. This may shorten the waiting time, for the parents as well as for the child.

What to do while waiting

We know that waiting for a child is an agonizing matter because of the uncertainties it comes with. Families are still waiting for children to be welcomed into their homes. Many children continue to hope that they will soon experience the loving care of a family. Countless social workers across the Philippines are tirelessly working to ensure that the children in their care become a part of families who will love and care for them.

At the same time, we hope that waiting can also be a meaningful experience. The season of waiting is a time when PAPs realize that they can wait for a long time but still give so much love. As one of the waiting parents puts it:

“I discovered that I could be patient and understanding, even though half a year has passed since our first matching conference and almost a year since we started processing our documents. We are still waiting.”

While waiting, here are some things you can do:

  • Equip yourself and others around you with basic knowledge about adoption and our new law, the Domestic Administrative Adoption and Childcare Act (RA 11642). At Generations—Home, we have equipping sessions for adoptive and foster parents called Stronger Generations where we discuss how to raise our children in safe, loving, and trauma-informed homes.

  • Advocate for adoption and foster care in your communities and social circles. If you feel safe, we invite you to share your own story and heart for your family. We also host an event called Family is the Answer, where we share how families and communities can build a culture that can celebrate adoption and foster care.

  • Pray for the different sectors involved in the adoption journey.

    • Pray for waiting families that they may be given the strength to see the process through

    • Pray for the children waiting for matching to not lose hope that they will soon experience the loving warmth of a family

    • Pray for the social workers involved in adoption cases to be guided and given strength as they work on the cases of many children

  • Visit children’s homes to understand the work of the often unsung heroes in the adoption journey — our social workers. It also is a perfect time to raise any questions or concerns you may have about adoption. Visiting these homes also allows you to have a deeper understanding of the reality of waiting children.

We also invite you to tune in to our Family is the Answer podcast episode where our Executive Director, Chrina Cuna-Henson, talks about why adoption can take long in the Philippines. You may also follow our social media pages to contact us and stay updated on our upcoming events.

Together, let’s end the orphan crisis and bring generations home!


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