Senate OKs bill seeking simpler, shorter, inexpensive adoption process
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Tuesday approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to simplify the process of adoption in the country.
Voting 22-0-0, senators approved Senate Bill No. 1933 or the proposed Domestic Administration Adoption Act.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, said the bill aims to dispense with the “lengthy process associated with judicial adoption by allowing domestic adoptions via an administrative process.”
“This bill will abbreviate the waiting time of adoptive parents to six to nine months. Instead of years, the waiting time will now only be as long as a pregnancy of a mother,” the senator, who also authored and sponsored the bill, said.
“This way, we will encourage more parents to adopt children who need loving homes and caring families, ” she added.
The measure mandates a simpler and less costly administrative process of adoption, to be managed by a new government body, the National Authority for Child Care (NACC), as per an amendment introduced by Senator Pia Cayetano.
Under the bill, the NACC will be tasked with handling all applications, petitions and all other matters involving alternative child care, in a manner that is “simple, expeditious, inexpensive, and will redound to the best interest of the child.”
To ensure a speedy process of administrative domestic adoption, the bill sets specific periods of time on which the NACC, the Regional Alternative Child Care Offices (RACCOs), and other government offices should decide on petitions for adoption and facilitate documents.
Decisions of the NACC may be later appealed to the Court of Appeals, according to the measure.
Procedural safeguards are also included in the bill to protect the child’s welfare, such as the requirement of a home study and case study by a social worker for each application for adoption.
The bill also penalizes abuse and exploitation of children as well as “simulation of birth” or the fictitious registration of the birth of a child under a person not their biological parent.
Instead of the current average of two to three years, the reforms sought under the bill will shorten the adoption process to six to nine months, according to Hontiveros.
“According to statistics, only 60% of adoption cases in the country are finalized within one year to three years. Some cases take up to four years or longer. Families end up spending hundreds of thousands of pesos in these lengthy proceedings,” she said.
But since the adoption process under the bill will no longer be “tedious and expensive,” Hontiveros expressed hopes that parents will no longer be discouraged from undergoing the legal process of adopting a child and will no longer undertake informal adoptions, which offer little protection to adopted children.
Senator Pia Cayetano, who has an adopted son, said the bill will also cover the “gaps and the flaws” in the current system of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), including its “undermanned and overworked” workforce.
“We acknowledge their hard work here; we have always seen that they have the true intent of helping these children and their families. But again, as I repeat, the DSWD personnel who have been handling adoption cases are also pulled out time and again for all the other functions in DSWD,” she said.
Due to the lack of personnel, the DSWD is only able to process 200 children for adoption each year, Cayetano said, citing records.
“So we will never be able to help out the children, the estimate is close to a million children, who need homes, whether temporarily in foster care, or adoption,” the senator said.
“And this is really sad…Imagine those growing up years spent in children’s homes, not with families, simply because we have not been efficient in handling the paperwork to get them adopted, to get them into the loving homes that are there waiting for them,” she added.
The approved adoption measure is a consolidation of two bills authored by Senators Grace Poe and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
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