“My husband and I unfortunately cannot have children. A distant relative from the province has 7 children, the two youngest children are aged 11 months and new born baby about 2 weeks old. Due to financial constraints, she offered for us to adopt her two youngest children. We took the children home after we executed an Adoption Agreement and had the same notarized. I would like to have our children bear my husband’s name to formalize their status. How do we go about this?”
First things first, a mere adoption agreement executed between the parents and prospective adoptive parents is not valid. This is because adoption proceedings are judicial in nature. The signing of the Adoption Agreement does not ipso facto did not sever the parental authority of the parents over their two children and vest the same with the adoptive parents. Jurisprudence provides that to establish the relation, the statutory requirements must be strictly carried out, otherwise, the adoption is an absolute nullity.
Domestic Adoption is governed by Republic Act 8552, which provides for guidelines in requirements and procedures in adopting a child.
Who may adopt?
1) Any Filipino citizen who is of legal age, possessing full civil capacity and legal rights, of good moral character, has not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude, emotionally and psychologically capable of caring for children, at least sixteen years older than the person to be adopted, and who is in a position to support and care for his/her children in keeping with the means of the family;
2) Any alien who possesses the same qualifications above stated for Filipino nationals, provided:
a) The alien’s country has diplomatic relations with the Republic of the Philippines;
b) The alien has been living in the Philippines for at least three (3) continuous years prior to the filing of the application for adopted and maintains such residence until the adoption decree is entered;
c) The alien has been certified by the diplomatic or consular office or any appropriate government agency that he/she has legal capacity to adopt in his/her country;
d) That the alien’s government allows the adoptee to enter the alien’s country as his/her son or daughter.
Who may be adopted?
(a) Any person below eighteen (18) years of age who has been administratively or judicially declared available for adoption;
(b) The legitimate son/daughter of one spouse by the other spouse;
(c) An illegitimate son/daughter by a qualified adopter to improve his/her status to that of legitimacy;
(d) A person of legal age if, prior to the adoption, said person has been consistently considered and treated by the adopter(s) as his/her own child since minority;
(e) A child whose adoption has been previously rescinded; or
(f) A child whose biological or adoptive parent(s) has died: Provided, that no proceedings shall be initiated within six (6) months from the time of death of said parent(s).
Who is a child declared available for adoption?
A child who has been voluntarily or involuntarily committed to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or to a duly licensed and accredited child-placing or child-caring agency, freed of the parental authority of his/her biological parents or guardian or adopters in case of rescission of adoption.
“I am financially stable and unmarried. Can I adopt on my own?”
Yes. Under RA 8552, the husband and wife must adopt jointly, except in the following cases:
(1) When one spouse seeks to adopt his own illegitimate child; or
(2) When one spouse seeks to adopt the legitimate child of the other; or
(3) When the spouses are legally separated.
Likewise, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) allows individual to adopt a child if they can prove to be capable of adopting a child. So 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. A prospective solo adoptive parent shall also go through the same process of adoption by couples.
What is the procedure for domestic adoption?
Prospective parents or solo parents who wish to adopt are first required to attend adoption forums by the DSWD to assess their motivation and to undergo counseling by a licensed social worker.
A petition shall be filed at the Regional Trial Court of the province or city where the prospective adoptive parents reside. Thereafter, an Order shall be issued by the Court that includes a directive for the publication of the Petition on a newspaper of general circulation and a directive for the court social worker to conduct a home study report.
Thereafter, the Court-appointed social worker shall conduct the home study and submit the report. If the report is approved, there would be a matching process or family selection, where the petitioner meets the prospective adoptee. During the hearing, the petitioner and the adoptee must personally appear and the former must testify before the presiding judge of the court.
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 final step would be the issuance of an amended birth certificate which will indicate the name of the child that the adoptive parents want him or her to take.
For more information about this topic, you may contact Atty. Joyce Felisa B. Domingo-Dapat at (+63) 917 548 8045. Atty. Joyce is the founding partner of Domingo-Munsayac and Associates. Her practice areas include intellectual property law, family law, real estate transactions, corporate law, immigration, taxation and litigation. She also specializes in estate planning and handles judicial and extrajudicial settlement of estates.
 Rule 99, Rules of Court
 Lazatin v. Campos, 92 SCRA 250