MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a new law that seeks to simplify the process of adoption, as thousands of children remained under government care awaiting permanent homes.
Republic Act 11642, which Duterte signed on Jan. 6, "shall provide for and allow simpler and inexpensive domestic administrative adoption proceedings and shall streamline services for alternative child care."
Also known as the Domestic Administrative Adoption and Child Care Act, the law shall create the National Authority for Child Care.
Its functions will include "declaring a child legally available for both domestic administrative adoption and inter-country adoption, foster care, kinship care, family-like care, or residential care."
The law sets specific periods of time on which the NACC, the Regional Alternative Child Care Offices (RACCOs), and other government offices should decide on petitions for adoption and facilitate documents. Decisions of the NACC may be later appealed to the Court of Appeals.
Safeguards for the child's welfare under the law include the requirement of a home study by a social worker for each application and post-adoption monitoring, among others.
The bill also penalizes abuse and exploitation of children, as well as simulation of birth or the fictitious registration of the birth of a child under a person who is not their biological parent.
Through these reforms, Sen. Risa Hontiveros earlier said the average adoption process will take only 6 to 9 months, instead of the current average of 2 to 3 years.
"According to statistics, only 60 percent of adoption cases in the country are finalized within 1 year to 3 years. Some cases take up to 4 years or longer. Families end up spending hundreds of thousands of pesos in these lengthy proceedings," Hontiveros said in August.
A faster adoption process will declog the courts and help at least 4,943 Filipino children under the care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) "who are still waiting for a permanent home", said Sen. Grace Poe.
"An act of goodness done in the legally correct way does not have to be so prohibitive and expensive. Every child is important. Every child needs a home," Hontiveros added.