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 babt 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.

You’ll need to 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.

  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.

  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.


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