18th May 2017
1. What law governs the declaration of children as legally available for adoption?
- Republic Act No. 9523 (RA 9523) is the governing law. It requires the certification of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to declare a child legally available for adoption. It also amends certain provisions of RA 8552, otherwise known as the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998, RA 8043, otherwise known as the Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995 and Presidential Decree No. 603 or the Child and Youth Welfare Code. It is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 2391 and House Bill No. 10. Furthermore, it was signed into law by the President on 12 March 2009.
2. What are the salient features of RA 9523?
- The declaration or certification that a “child is legally available for adoption” is now issued by the DSWD through an administrative process. Formerly, this was done by courts through a judicial process.
- The Certification issued by the DSWD shall be the sole basis for the immediate issuance by the local civil registrar of a foundling certificate.
- The time period before a child is considered as abandoned or neglected has been shortened to 3 months from the former 6 months.
3. Who is an abandoned child?
- It refers to one who has no proper parental care or guardianship or whose parent(s) has deserted him/her for a period of at least three (3) continuous months, which includes a foundling.
4. Who is a neglected child?
- A neglected child is one whose basic needs have been deliberately unattended or inadequately attended within a period of 3 continuous months. Neglect may occur in two ways:
(a) There is a physical neglect when the child is malnourished, ill clad and without proper shelter. A child is unattended when left by himself without provisions for his needs and/or without proper supervision.
(b) Emotional neglect exists: when children are maltreated, raped or seduced; exploited, overworked or made to work under conditions not conducive to good health; or are made to beg in the streets or public places, or when children are in moral danger, or exposed to gambling, prostitution and other vices.
5. Who is a child legally available for adoption?
- It refers to a child in whose favor a certification was issued by the DSWD that he/she is legally available for adoption after the fact of abandonment or neglect has been proven through the submission of pertinent documents, or one who was voluntarily committed by his/her parents or legal guardian.
6. Who is a voluntarily Committed Child?
- It refers to a child whose parents or legal guardian knowingly and willingly relinquished parental authority to the DSWD or any duly accredited child placement or child-caring agency or institution.
7. What is the procedure in applying for the Certification that the child is legally available for adoption?
- A Petition must be filed by:
a. The head or executive director of a licensed or accredited child-caring or child-placement agency or institution managed by the LGU, NGO who has actual custody of the child; or
b. Provincial, city or municipal Social Welfare Development Officer who has actual custody of the child;
NOTE: If the child is under the custody of another individual, the consent of the child’s custodian must be secured by the said agency or institution.
- The Petition must be in the form of an affidavit, subscribed and sworn to and must allege facts necessary to establish the merits of the petition and the circumstances surrounding the neglect or abandonment.
- The Petition must be supported by the following documents:
a. Social Case Study Report made by the DSWD, LGU, licensed or accredited child-caring or child-placing agency or institution charged with the custody of the child;
b. Proof that efforts were made to locate the parent or any known relative of the child such as:
i. Written certification from a local or national radio or television station that the case was aired on 3 different occasions;
ii. Publication in 1 newspaper of general circulation;
iii. Police Report or barangay certification from the locality where the child was found or a certified copy of a tracing report issued by the PNRC, National Headquarters, Social Services Division, which states that despite due diligence, the child’s parents could not be found;
iv. Returned registered mail to the last known address of the parent or known relatives, if any.
c. Birth certificate, if available;
d. Recent photograph of the child and photograph of the child upon abandonment or admission to the agency or institution.
- The Petition shall be filed in the Regional Office of the DSWD where the child was found or abandoned.
- If found sufficient, the Regional Director of DSWD will authorize the posting of a notice of the petition in conspicuous places for 5 consecutive days in the locality where the child was found.
- After completion of posting, the Regional Director shall act on the same and render his recommendation not later than 5 working days
- He shall transmit his recommendation and the records to the Office of the Secretary within 48 hours
- If the Secretary finds merit, he shall issue the certification within 7 working days from date of receipt of the recommendation.
- The decision of the Secretary shall be appealable to the Court of Appeals within 5 days from receipt of the decision.
8. What is the function of the Certificate?
- It shall be the primary evidence that the child is legally available in a domestic adoption proceeding as well as for inter country adoption.
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