How to Recognize a Foreign Adoption on a Philippine Birth Certificate
Have you adopted a Filipino child in a foreign country?
Say you adopted the illegitimate child of your Filipina wife who was already in your country.
Or you may have adopted a distant relative of your Filipino spouse.
These circumstances are examples of situations where the adoption of the Filipino child was processed by a foreign country and not the Philippines.
As such, the child’s Philippine birth certificate papers will not have reflected the adoption.
I explain how to reflect this foreign adoption in the child’s Philippine birth certificate in a step by step manner.
How will the adoption be recognized?
Recognizing this foreign adoption is a 1 to 1.5 year Philippine court case.
Since the Philippines did not process the adoption (i.e. Not the ICAB), this court case is primarily to determine if the foreign adoption was validly obtained.
A validly obtained foreign adoption is when it is processed in accordance with that foreign country’s laws on adoption.
To do this, the Philippine court assesses the adoption law of the foreign country and the adoption papers. The court also hears testimony on how the adoption was obtained.
If all is in order, it then releases a Decision that can be used to amend the child’s Philippine birth certificate to reflect the foreign adoption.
What documents should you prepare?
- Foreign Adoption order
- Certified Copy of the foreign country’s Adoption Law
- Birth Certificate of the Child
- Birth Certificate/Passports of the Adoptive Parents
This is the minimum that you would need to recognize the foreign adoption.
The documents have to go through a process of authentication so that it can be used in Philippine courts.
For most documents, authentication means bringing them to the Philippine embassy for the authenticate process or “red-ribboning”.
For the Foreign Adoption law however, it is more complicated.
Retrieving the Foreign Adoption law must comply with strict requirements for Philippine Laws on Evidence. It is specific on a per country basis and can depends on particular personal situation.
This requires time and study on a per case basis.
What is the court process like?
Complete document gathering should be the first step.
After your attorney has instructed you on the correct way to gather and authenticate the documents, he will create a petition.
This petition will be filed at the court and raffled to a particular court branch.
Your lawyer will then comply with legal requirements.
This includes publication, notification and submission of evidence. These pre-hearing requirements can be extensive but must be complied with so that the case continues smoothly.
The next court hearing will require witness testimony as to the adoption. This is usually accomplished through a judicial affidavit where the testimony of the witness is written down. This judicial affidavit is the basis of the court’s cross examination.
A formal offer of evidence will be submitted at court for the court’s decision.
Can this be done while I am abroad?
If you are abroad, you can gather the foreign documents with ease after having been given thorough instructions by your lawyer.
Coordination can be done through email or messaging services.
The court testimony can be scheduled for when you are in the country.
If circumstances are such so that personal testimony is not possible, you and your lawyer can discuss who best can attest to the adoption.
How long does it take?
The Philippine courts have heavy caseloads.
Although there are relatively few, a court case can take anywhere from 1 – 1.5 years.
It will also depend on the particular circumstances of the court you are raffled to.
A retiring judge, a vacancy or an extraordinarily crowded court may cause delays.
On the other hand, an efficient judge can push it through the system much more swiftly than expected.
What are the costs involved?
Costs are composed of the following:
- Lawyer’s fees include an acceptance fee, a success fee, pleading and hearing fees.
- Court fees include court filing fees, service and the required publication costs which can vary depending on what the judge orders and where it is published. Publication fees can range from 25,000 to 45,000 and in some cases even more.
- Document fees such notarization, postal service and reproduction.
- Foreign document costs vary on a per country basis.