Philippine Adoption Primer (Overview, Process, Costs)

by | May 25, 2018 | Family Law, Adoption

A baby being given to a happy couple.

Adoption makes you a parent in every sense of the word.

Although domestic adoption is a lengthy and costly process, understanding the process helps a lot.

It’s simpler to adopt rather than simulating birth (which has criminal consequences) or risk having the child taken away.

Below are listed requirements, documents and the adoption process itself.

There are 2 parts to the process.

  1. DSWD process to match and place your child.
  2. Court process to ensure your legal rights over the child.

Details as to the cost and timeline are also part of the post.

Why should you legally adopt?

An child in front of a badge indicating how adopted children have protected rights before the law.

An adopted child has several legal and monetary benefits.

Adoption is the best route for anyone who raises and cares for a child because it protects the legal interests of the child.

Legally adopting a child has benefits for both:

  • You can claim benefits given to dependents (medical, government, insurance, etc.)
  • You can protect your right as a parent
  • You can protect the child
  • Your child is entitled to your estate

These have practical and monetary effects.

Medical bills can be lower and she is covered by your company or state-provided benefits.

In addition, travel is easier. You’ll never worry that your right as a parent will be questioned.

Although it can be a tedious and time-consuming process, it has so many beneficial effects to your child’s life that it is more than worth it.

Can you adopt?

Outstretched hands waiting to receive a sleeping baby. All adoptors must fulfill several requirements first.

There are several requirements to adopt.

Adoption is limited to people who the state believes can care for the child.

To that end, you must fulfill the below requirements:

  • Of legal age
  • Possess full civil and legal rights
  • Of good moral character
  • Have not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude
  • Is physically, financially and psychologically capable of caring for children
  • Are at least 16 years old than the child except if you are the biological parent or the spouse of the adoptee’s parent.

You can also adopt if you are a foreigner but you’ll need to possess all of the above and the below additional 3 requirements:

  • Your country has diplomatic relations with the Philippines
  • You have lived in the Philippines for 3 consecutive years and will continue to live there until the adoption decree is final
  • You are capable to adopt and have been certified by your own country and that the child can enter your country

Immediately, you’ll notice the 3-year residency requirement.

This actually can be waived if you are trying to adopt someone related to you up to the or related to your Filipino spouse up to the 4th degree of consanguinity. This is also waived if you are adopted your Filipino spouse’s child.

Oh, and note that if you are married both of you must adopt the child. There are some exceptions to this but it holds true for the majority of cases.

Step 1: DSWD process to find and match you to your child.

A match between adoptive parents and an available child takes time.

Finding the perfect baby match takes time!

There are 2 types of adoption in the Philippines.

One is when you adopt a relative. The other is when you adopt a stranger through an agency.

There are 2 accredited Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Agencies:

  1. Norfil Foundation
  2. Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF)

Most adoptions need to go through these agencies to start the process.

While there are several parts to this first stage, it is generally composed of an application process, matching the child to the correct family and then a transferring the child.

Below is an overview of the process:

  • Call the agency to clarify the steps for your particular case
  • Attend the adoption seminar
  • Submit an application form with several attachments
  • Be interviewed for the Home Study report
  • Be matched
  • Assess your match by visiting and reading the child’s information
  • Prepare an acceptance letter you accept the match
  • DSWD prepares the Pre-Adoption Placement Authority and the Affidavit of Consent for Adoption.
  • The Childcare agency schedules the transfer of the child after these above documents are presented
  • Transfer of the child
  • File the petition with the court

There’s a lot of paperwork that you are going to have to do.

A women with several documents floating around her to indicate that a lot of paperwork is needed.

You’ll need to gather several documents to adopt

The application form needs to be filled up and has several attachments:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage Contract and other documents that affect your civil status such as Annulment, Legal Separation, Divorce, etc.
  • NBI/Police clearance
  • Health Certificate
  • Psychological Evaluation, when required
  • Latest income tax return and other documents showing you can support the child
  • Certificate of employment with compensation
  • 3 character references from the local church, employer, or non-relative who’ve known you for at least 3 years
  • Affidavit of consent of all your adopted and biological children if over 10, including illegitimate children if living with you
  • Affidavit of guardianship
  • 3x5 pictures of yourself, your spouse and your children taken in the last 3 months
  • Certificate of attendance to pre-adoption seminars
Foreigners have a few more certifications and documents to adopt

Foreigners must complete additional adoption documents

Additional requirements for foreigners would be:

  • Certificate from your country/embassy that you are qualified to adopt and that the child can migrate to your home country
  • Certificate of Residence from the Bureau of Immigration or Department of Foreign Affairs
  • 2 character references from non-relatives who are citizens of your previous country of residence who’ve known you for at least 2 years
  • Police clearance of all places you’ve resided in for the last 2 years

SPECIAL NOTE: As of 2018, the agency I spoke with said that foreign nationals cannot go through domestic adoption. There was some difficulty with the legal requirements and her agency wanted to clear that up before processing others.

In a call to clarify this, the social worker said that the confusion was around who would be authorized to give the Certificate that the Foreign National was Qualified to Adopt.

Inter-country adoption may still be an option for foreigners.

As you go through the rest of the process, other documents may be asked.

In general, there is a lot of coordination during this phase.

This first step often takes 6 months.

It can take longer if you cannot be matched.

Step 2: Court process to ensure your legal rights over the child

A ringing clock and a courtroom to indicate court processes take time

Court can take 2 years or more as there are several hearings.

The second part of the process is filing at court.

This is important in that it finalizes the adoption and ensures you have full parental rights over the child.

If you’ve successfully completed the first step and have all your documents, proceedings can be much faster.

Still, delays can still be caused by clogged courts, inability of witnesses to appear and additional documents/social work needed.

In a call with KBF, the social worker noted that court often more than 2 years.

She mentioned that there are frequent re-settings and that there are a lot of witnesses:

  • DSWD regional officers who prepared the Pre-Adoption Placement Authority and the Affidavit of Consent for Adoption.
  • DSWD Central officer who created the Declaration of Abandonment.
  • Social workers who created the Child Study, the Home Study and 6-month trial period report.
  • The adopter his spouse and the child must appear.

Court can also take some time since adoption cases are often the last one to be called to preserve some privacy.

A list of completed steps to show that several steps are taken.

Court is composed of several steps.

The process is straightforward:

  • Create your Petition and attach all documents
  • File at the Family Court
  • Publish your Petition in a newspaper once a week for 3 consecutive weeks (additional time restrictions occur when you also want to change the child’s name)
  • Court-appointed social worker will start the 6-month trial period.
  • Go to court to testify.
  • Wait for all other witnesses to testify.
  • Receive the court decision and register it in the Civil Registry.

Several documents that are needed at court are part of the DSWD submission but I’ll reproduce all the requirements so you can have a checklist.

  • Birth, baptismal or foundling certificate
  • Affidavit of consent of the child you want to adopt if 10 or older
  • Affidavit of biological parents
  • Affidavit of your adopted and biological children if 10 or older
  • Affidavit of your illegitimate children if 10 or older who live with you
  • Affidavit of your spouse
  • Child Study report of the child you want to adopt
  • Home Study report on you. If you are foreign or live abroad, this can be done by any Inter-Country Adoption Board accredited foreign adoption agency.
  • Any document that has changed your civil status such as your marriage, divorce, legal separation, annulment decree etc. This is also applicable for the biological parents of the child.
  • If you are foreign, your government must certify that you can adopt based on your laws and that your adopted child can move to your home country.

Important Considerations (Cost, Timeline, Etc)

A wallet with cash to indicate financial preparation is needed.

Prepare financially for adoption.

You should consider the cost of obtaining the needed documents since it adds up.

In addition, the agency will often charge for some of the work done which reaches about Php 17,700.

  • The Pre-Adoption Forum Cost and Application Php 1,500 for a couple
  • Adoption Home Study Php 5,000
  • Issuance of Pre-Adoption Placement Authority Php 7,500
  • Child Case Study Php 3,700

The cost for the court process varies depending on the lawyer you engage and so are left blank.

Court fees are composed of:

  • Acceptance varies
  • Filing Fees Php 10,000
  • Publication Requirement Php 15,000 to 30,000
  • Pleadings varies
  • Court Appearance varies
  • Success Fee varies

In addition, some adoption cases can be quite involved. The total process can take years.

Some are particularly lucky and can go through the entire process in 3 years, but that is rare.

However, the process itself provides security of mind that is very crucial to parents and should seriously be considered.


  1. menandro pineda jr

    Sir, theoretically, what can I do if i know a family who “adopted” a child without undergoing the proper channels?

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      That’s an awfully broad question whose answer very much depends on the facts.

    • rosie

      Subrang nagugugluhan po ako sa aming adoption case po. Meron po ako anak nuon dalaga pa ako pero ever since pinanganak ko anak ko eh wala talagang ngpapakitang tatay. Ngayon married na po ako for 7 yrs. Dati pa po namin na process yung adoption ng anak ko kasi gusto ng husbnd ko maging legal na anak sya kasi since 8 months sya si husband ko na tumatayong tatay. Ang problema ko kasi ang dating tumanggap ng case namin ngwithdraw sa paghandle ng case kasi maaasign sya sa ibang lugar kaya tinatransfer kmi ng bagong attorney. Akala nmain tpos na kmi full pay sa adoption eh ngayon ngpapabayad ng 10k bagong attorney. Eh ang problema na ngayon ayaw na mgbayad husband ko kasi tapos na nga kmi ngbayad dati para matapos yung adoption. Anu po gagawin namin?

      • Lawyers in the Philippines

        Hi Rosie:

        In general, charges will occur throughout the adoption case unless you have otherwise agreed with your lawyer.

        It is truly up to you whether to continue the case or not.

  2. Pete D.

    I have a daughter from my previous relationship (live in partner) who’s 7 y.o right now, who carries my surname. We have just broke up and I wanted to know if I can get full custody of my daughter. I have learned from a common friend and from my uncle that my ex is pregnant with her other man. And is planning to get married with the other man. I am a bit concern since mejo magulo ang fam ng ex q at baka kukunin nila ang daughter q sa akin. Btw, after our broke up I left Bacolod with my daughter and lived somewhere else. Is there a chance na makukuha niya ang anak namin? My daughter would not want to stay with my ex. She was traumatized with what my ex did to me and her. Wherein my daughter felt neglected during the time na nag cheat cya with the guy na pakakasalan nya ngayon. Ang akin lang is security na sa akin ang anak namin. What would be the best legal way to secure my daughter’s custody. Thanks po sa makakasagot.

    Pete ^_^

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      By law, a child not born of a marriage is under the parental authority of the mother. However, you can choose to file a Petition for Custody at the Family Court (Regional Trial Court) if you can prove that it is in your daughter’s best interest for you to have her legal custody.

  3. Anonymous

    I was 5 years old back in 1990 ng nagpakasal mother ko and my british step father. My mom was never married to my biological father and my stepfather is single eversince before their marriage. Nagkaroon din ng isang anak ang mother ko with my stepfather. Now I’m 34 and this year, my stepfather decided to finally adopt me because he heard its still possible when he read about our domestic adoption law. Pano po kaya yung process, requirements and how long it will take? I am very much willing to be adopted by him because eversince sya na talaga yung nagraise sakin. Please help. Thank you in advance.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent you an email.

      • Maricel

        Hello, attorney! I have a daughter that is outside my marriage. And now Im married now and gusto nmin ng husband ko ma legal na yung daughter ko. Tanong ko how to start and how much would it cost.

      • Lawyers in the Philippines

        Hi Maricel:

        I sent you an email.

  4. Chery

    Hi i have a 13 year old son i got married 2 years ago live in kami mga 10 years po siguro. Pumayag yjng biological father na ipaadopt na sa asawa ko yung anak ko may pinirmahan na sya. Kaso lang i need to know how much uung magagastos namin and gaano katagal 1st year high school na yjng anak ko and i am currently pregnant. Gusto ko sana mapalitan na din last name nya please help po kasi nag tatankbg na din yung anak ko regarding his surname ang nag palaki sakanya yjn asawa ko po.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent you an email.

  5. AllAn ARDALES

    Hi attorney, good day vusto ko lang po sana mag tanong about adoption.. Gusto po sana namen i adopt na yung apo ng asawa ko sa pamangkin nya. Kami na ang ag alaga dun sa bata simula nung 1mos.old pa lang.. Mag aapat na taon na samen yung bata at kami narin ang kinikilala na magulang.. Magkano po ba ang magagastos in prepreparation sa adoptions

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Will send you an email.

  6. Raymond Olores Dizon

    Hi attorney,

    My mother would like to adopt my illegitimate child. The mother of the illegitimate child will give her consent on this matter. How much will be the cost?


    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      I have sent you an email.

  7. Annie bendita

    Hello po attorney good day..ask q lng po Kasi my daughter dn aq from my previous relationship 8yrs old na sya ngaun.dala Niya ung surname ng biological father Nia,ngaun my asawa na po aq pero pumayag ung ex q na iadopt ng asawa q anak nmin.mgkano po kya mgagastos nun pwde po kya aq mgpatulong sa public attorney lng po?mtagal po kaya process ng adoption?

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      I sent you an email.

  8. Anrosh

    (Adopt a Relative) I have 2 nieces ages 18 and 19 years old. We have been providing foster care since they were 14 and 15 years old. We, as a couple, are based in Canada (Canadian/Filipino (Dual) Citizen), want to adopt our nieces (of legal age). Is this possible? Do you help with adult adoption in the Philippines? What are the requirements?

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Hi Anrosh:

      The children are too old to be adopted as 15 years old is the cut-off for inter-country adoption. In fact, the Philippine Inter-Country Adoption Board recommends that the process start at 12 to ensure that all requirements are completed by the time the child turns 15.

      It is best to discuss with a Canadian immigration lawyer if there are other ways the children can be sent to you.

  9. Anonymous

    Hello po, i’ll be seeking help and opinions po. May 4 na anak po ang kuya ko, tatlo sa kanila nasa pangangalaga ko yung isa ioinamigay nila ng hindi namin alam. since yung father and mother nila nakulong dahil sa drugs. 2nd time na nakulong ng kuya ko dahil sa drugs 1st is june2017 and 2nd is march2018 kasabay ang asawa nya. Gusto ko sanang i-llegally adoot yung bunso nila since kahit lumabas sila pinapabayaan lang nila anak nila. Ngayon po nakalaya na yung nanay nila at wala nang balak ang family namin na pagsamahin sila since ang hirap din kasama ng nanay nila dahil nagwawala ito pag nagalit at palaging minumura ang mga anak nila.

    Ano po ba ang proseso at paano ko ma-legally adopt ang pamangkin ko? Sana po may makasagot sakin. Maraming salamat

    • Lawyers in the Philippines


      It is possible to adopt but you will need to go through all the steps identified above to do so.

      In addition, it is important to get the consent of the child’s biological parents.

  10. Elija

    Hi attorney. I hope you are having a great weekend. I would like to seek assistance as my husband would like to adopt my 12 year old son. Ako po ay nagkaanak sa aking ex partner but I am now married for 4 years. I am not getting any child support sa father ng anak ko and we dont know his whereabouts eversince naghiwalay kami. Matagal na po interested yung husband ko na i-adopt ung son ko. My problem is, gamit ng anak ko yung last name ng ex ko and nakalagay sa birth certificate ng son ko na married ako sa father nya Which is not true because hindi naman ako kinasal sa father ng anak ko. Gusto namin namalan kung paano mag proceed sa adoption given na ganito ang sitwasyon. I hope to hear from you soon.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Several legal issues would have to be addressed.

      I will send you an email.

  11. Jac

    We would like to adopt the grandson of our nanny. The boy has been with our family for 3 years now. His mother died as a single mother. The father is not known. The grandmother is the legal guardian, but since she has no means to provide, she leff her grandson with us, and only visits once or twice a year. Now the boy is with my parents in the Philippines. My husband and I would like to adopt him legally, but we are based here in Saudi Arabia. My husband is an OFW and we ars staying here as his dependents. Please let us know how can we go about the process.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      I will send you an email.

  12. Ricardo

    Hi atty. Good day. Need advice on how to go with it. My wife has a daughter with her previous relationship. When we got married gusto ko na sana i adopt yung daughter niya. Her daughter is now 11 years old. Thank you.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent you an email.

  13. Vangie

    Hi! My partner would like to adopt my son. What’s the process and how much doesnit cost? Thanks

  14. rolando

    Dear Sir / Ma’am,

    I have an illegitimate son out of wedlock with already deceased man years ago. Then, he is using my maiden’s name. I am now married with two children.

    Now, my husband wants to adopt my son so he can also use his surname. He loved my illegitimate son and he said that he does not want my son to be teased because his surname will be different from ours. How is it possible? what’s the best process, and how long it be the process because my husband is now an ofw. Is it costly and do we need an attorney?. Please give us legal advice because this is our a long time dream question to be answered.

    Thanks and God bless you all.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Hi –

      I have sent you an email.

      Note we are not the PAO.

  15. Ruth

    Hi Attorney! I’ve read your article and the directions are very clear. But it looks like it’s for married couples or family with married couples.

    I currently foster a child for 2 years now. She’s 4 years old when she was given to me. She is not a relative, her family was introduced to me by a friend. I am single and I want to adopt the child legally.

    I already inquired from DSWD but both staff I asked answered that they need to inquire from the higher ups as my case is quite different.

    What would I do? How am I going to start?

    Thank you in advance for your response.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Dear Ruth:

      As a single person, you can adopt.

      I will send you an email.

  16. Mae

    Hi, I have son who’s surname is his biological father and now I’m married since our marriage my son is with us and now we want to change his surname to my husband surname. How’s the process and how much it will cost for us?

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent an email.

  17. Desperate Moves

    I’m having the same situation like most of the people leaving their comments in here..if you could send me an email and recommend a firm/lawyer that could help me start the process 😊 Thank You!

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent you an email.

  18. Mark J

    My Lady and I are looking to get married. she wants a child but I had a vasectomy long time ago. We are looking into ICI or IUI. I am a foreigner and have lived in the Philippines for more than the required time. I would want to adopt the child so it could get citizenship in the USA. Is this possible?

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Dear Mark:

      As far as Philippine law is concerned, a child born to your wife during the marriage is your child.

      However, your country if your country requires DNA tests for immigration, you may run into problems if you use a sperm donor.

  19. Venice

    Hi atty. Good day. Need advice on how to go with it and how much would it cost. I have a daughter with my previous relationship. When I got married gusto na sana i adopt ng husband ko yung daughter ko . My daughter is now 10 years old going 11 on September. Thank you.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent you an email.

  20. Joan almarez

    I have a son who is 3 years old and using my surname when i was single and without middle name and now i got married and my husband want to adopt and give him his name,how to start the process and how much it cost? Thank you

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent you an email.

  21. Jameiah Maria

    Hi Atty! May I know the process, requirements and cost we need to settle when we change my daughter’s last name into my husband’s surname. She’s bearing her biological father’s family name.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent an email.

  22. john

    hello po,

    may question lang po ako,
    30 years old na po ako
    ngyun tanong ko lang kung pwwede pako maadopt nung mga nag alaga sakin. kasal na po ako ngaun.
    di ko po kilala yung mga biological parents ko -yung nakalagay po sa birth certificate na mama ko hindi ko po nakilala – i tried to look for her po pero di kio po siya makita

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent an email.

  23. arghie

    Hello po Atty.

    Meron po ako application for US under EB3 category. My daughter is 19 years old but she has already 1 year old son out of marriage po. Under custody namin yong bata. Since 19 palang po yong anak ko, it means na kasama xa sa application ko. Kaso ung grandson kopo, sabi ng agency eh hndi dw pwde isama dahil not legally under our guardianship po as per USCIS. Dapat dw po adopted namin xa within 2years. So gusto kopo sanang i adopt ung apo ko at maisama xa sa application ko para magkakasama padin kmi sa US. Any advised po? and and quote for the fee and processing time? 18-24months daw po kasi ang processing ng EB3 now so sana maihabol ko xa sa application ko. Salamat po

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent you an email.

  24. winie

    Hello po Atty.

    Need your advice po.
    may bingay po sa akin isang bata, may kasulatan kami ng biological mother na di na sya maghahabol. Right after she gave birth po kinuha ko na yung bata. niregister ko kaagad under may name, may asawa ako and di ko lang nilagay name ng asawa ko as the father for some reasons po.
    gusto po ng asawa ko to legally adopt him para madala namin sya dito sa Singapore. ano po dapat gawin.

    thank you and God Bless po.

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent an email.

  25. Gene

    Good day Dearest Attorneys,

    My wife had a daughter of 8 months old way back 2007 – not mine, which she introduces me during my courting stage. From that day on i stood up as a father (a real one) & now i wanted my surname for her to take. Q: is adoption the only way to legalize my surname to my “daughter?” if so, would like to ask your help, steps on adoption & it may cost. Also, please include estimated months/years it would materialized. Btw, we’re married now (since 2017) & my “daughter” is now 12 years old & my purpose of this is to settle her personal documents, entitlements & feelings (she is questioning her surname why she & her younger brother is diff.) mainly the reason why i wanted this to end & for her to feel that she really is my daughter. Hoping for your cordial support. thank you in advance…


    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent an email.

  26. Ali

    Good day po!

    I have a nephew whom I’ve taken care of ever since birth. Now, I want to adopt him so I could put him in all of my government mandated benefits. Do I still have to undergo the same process even if he is a relative? He’s turning seven this year.

    Looking forward to your reply.

    Thank you!

    • Lawyers in the Philippines

      Sent an email.


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