Adopting Children from the Philippines: A Complex, But Rewarding Journey

Written by: Lisa Ann K. L. Barber, MSW
Adoption Program Supervisor II
Child and Family Service

Adoption is a unique way to fulfill one's dreams of parenthood and there are many children in need of loving homes. These children are both here in the United States and in other countries. Child and Family Service's International Adoption Program assists Hawaii families in adopting from the Philippines and China. Child and Family Service is a private, non-profit organization that was established in Hawaii in 1899. Our adoption program has been working with the Philippines since the 1980s.

Child and Family Service is an agency authorized to work with the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB) in the Philippines. The ICAB is the governing agency in the Philippines which, in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), determines which children may leave the Philippines for the purpose of adoption in another country. A family wishing to pursue the adoption of a child relative must consult not only with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, but also with the ICAB and the DSWD to ensure they meet all the requirements necessary to adopt. A child adopted domestically in the Philippines does not guarantee that immigration will approve a petition to bring the child over to the United States. It is best for a family in Hawaii considering adoption from the Philippines to consult with US Citizenship and Immigration Services and with the Child and Family Service International Adoption program first.

A family who wishes to adopt a relative child must consider the following before starting the adoption process. Is the child considered (by US immigration and DSWD standards) an eligible child for the inter-country adoption process? A child can be determined eligible if one or both of the birth parents are deceased. If there is one surviving parent, that parent must give up their parental rights to the child through the Philippines court. If both biological parents are still alive but they wish to have their child adopted by a family member, often times the answer is case specific. Our staff here at Child and Family Service can help you determine potential eligibility for Philippines Adoption.

If a child cannot be classified to be adopted through the inter-country process by the Philippines, the child will not meet the immigration requirements to come to the U.S. on through the petition I-800. Rather, the adoptive family will need to adopt domestically in the Philippines and fulfill the requirement of residing in the Philippines with the child for two years. They must show financial support of the child and be the primary care giver. After the two year commitment, the adoptive family may file an I-130 form with immigration. The I-130 is the petition to bring a relative to the United States.

The International Adoption Program at Child and Family Service can assist a prospective adoptive family if there is question that the child may or may not be considered eligible for inter-country adoption (i.e. abandonment, financial hardship) or if a family is unable to reside in the Philippines for the two year requirement. Our program works with the ICAB and the DSWD to help determine a child's eligibility status. If the child is considered eligible, our program will assist the family in gathering the necessary documents required by both U.S. Immigration and the Philippines government. There are fees involved to our agency, to U.S. Immigration, and to the ICAB in the Philippines. It is important to know that an adoption from the Philippines can take two years to complete.

Non-relative children are also available for adoption in the Philippines! These children range in age from 18 months to 5 years and are in good health. They reside in orphanages and wish to find loving homes with good parents. Our International Adoption Program can assist Hawaii families with this process as well.

As of July 2008, we started our recruitment for families willing and able to adopt children with special needs from the Philippines.

The process of adopting a child from the Philippines can be confusing and lengthy. Therefore, it is important to know the details of the legal process and what requirements are needed prior to starting any paperwork. Our adoption staff at Child and Family Service wishes to ensure that Hawaii families are well informed of this process. The end result is rewarding and worth the wait!

In an effort to help the Filipino community in Hawaii, our program invites you to a free informational consultation that will focus on the adoption process and the different routes a family may take to adopt a relative or non-relative child from the Philippines. They are held at the Child and Family Service office at 200 North Vineyard Blvd. Bldg. B in Honolulu.

Please call Lisa Barber, Program Supervisor, at 543-8426.


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Last Updated : 12/10/08