Adoption open to singles–DSWDBy Leila B. Salaverria |Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Adopting a child is an option available not just to couples but also to singles or solo parents, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“In fact, we are supporting and giving assistance to solo parents now,” said Sally Dagulo, who heads the DSWD’s Alternative Care Division.
What is important, she said, is that the solo parent has the right motivation for adopting a child and can provide all the love and care the child needs.
The DSWD, which has just concluded Adoption Consciousness Week, said there were many misconceptions about adoption that it hoped to correct.
Aside from the idea that adoption is only for couples, another misconception is that it is a long, difficult and expensive process. The DSWD is meticulous, but the process is not that complex, according to Dagulo.
The DSWD is also pushing for legal adoption, which gives a child the same rights as a biological child of the adoptive parents, including the right to use their surname.
Gender, religion not factors
At present, there are 216 abandoned children housed at the DSWD Reception and Study Center for Children needing parental care.
In allowing solo parent adoption, Dagulo said the DSWD is gender-sensitive and does not judge the prospective parent based on his or her sexual orientation. As long as the applicant meets all the requirements and has shown the proper motivation for wanting to care for a child, he or she will be considered.
Religion is also not a factor in allowing someone to adopt, she said. Religion only comes into consideration when the child to be adopted is over 6 years old, when the child usually already practices a religion.
The DSWD has been getting and granting applications for solo parents, though there are far more applications from couples.
According to Dagulo, the DSWD’s primary consideration in choosing an adoptive parent is the capability to raise a child.
Supportive family members
The DSWD doesn’t require a specific income for the prospective parent but it should be adequate to support the child. It is also crucial that the prospective parent’s decision to adopt has the support of his or her family and relatives.
“It is very important that the adoption be accepted by the family so that the child would not be stigmatized and would feel that he or she belongs,” she said.
The adoptive parent or parents must also have the right reason for wanting to adopt. The welfare and well-being of the child should be their primary concern.
There must also be an affidavit of guardianship where the prospective parent’s family members or someone else agree to take care of the child should something happen to the parents.
Dagulo said couples or single people could even choose to take care of more than one child. When siblings are up for adoption, the DSWD actually requires that all of them go to one adoptive family because it aims for family conservation.
Prospective parents can also specify whether they prefer to adopt a girl or a boy, as well as the age of the child they want. But they cannot choose a specific child from among those up for adoption.
Parents who wish to adopt are first required to attend adoption forums to assess their motivation and to undergo counseling by a licensed social worker.
Six-month trial period
A social worker would then conduct a home study to assess the prospective parent’s capacity to care for the child. Once approved, there would be a matching or family selection, in which the applicant would get to meet the child.
Later, the prospective parents would be authorized to get physical custody of the child for a trial period of six months. If the trial produces satisfactory results, the DSWD will issue a consent of adoption. The adoptive parents would then need to file a court petition for the adoption to be finalized.
The last step is the issuance of an amended birth certificate showing the name of the child that the adoptive parents want him or her to take.
Dagulo said there were some people who take care of children who are simply handed over to them, and then have fake birth certificates made to pass off the child as their own. The DSWD is offering to help these parents legally adopt the children.