Legal adoption is a gift to both the child and the parents.

This was the message during the recently held Adoption Forum led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in celebration of the 2016 Adoption Consciousness Week on February 15-21. Adoption Consciousness Week is observed yearly as per Presidential Proclamation No. 72 signed on February 03, 1999 by then President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

With the theme “Legal na Ampon Ako: Anak na Totoo (A Child Finds Worth in Legal Adoption)”, the Adoption Forum tackled the various adoption laws in the Philippines and featured testimonies of adoptive parents.

Adoption is a blessing

“Adoption is a gift to us parents, not only to the children,” said Erlene Villamora, an adoptive mother of two children, Carmel and Cade.

The Villamora family had a biological son when they adopted Carmel. They wanted to give their son a sister, thus, they applied for the legal adoption of Carmel.

Erlene shared that the journey to legal adoption was a bit tedious at first, but they did not want any other option. They wanted a child to call their own legally. Hence, they patiently underwent the process.

She said they did not want any complications which could arise if they did not follow the legal process, like those portrayed in movies and dramas wherein other biological parents can claim their child in the future.

Erlene also addressed the usual perception that it is still better to have your own child as the lineage of the adopted child is unknown.

She said that adopting a child is a risk, the same is true about raising biological children.  But for the Villarama family, it was a risk worth taking.

Erlene added that she and her husband can attest that “The feelings for their biological child and adopted child are the same.”

Legal adoption protects the child

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman stressed that every child should belong to a family.

“Presently, there are still many children available for adoption who are still waiting to be matched with prospective adoptive parents. The longer they stay in centers, the smaller their chance of getting adopted,” Sec. Soliman stressed.

Despite this, the Secretary further emphasized that legal adoption is the only option to protect the welfare of the child.

“Only legal adoption provides the child the right to a name and family,” Sec. Soliman said.

The Secretary added that DSWD does not charge any fee for adoption. Expenses are normally incurred in the filing for the petition of adoption in courts. The prospective adoptive parents will have to get the services of a lawyer and spend for appearances in court.

The prospective parents may also course their application or adoption through accredited child placing agencies like the Kaisahang Bahay Foundation (KBF) and Norfil Foundation. As for the fees, the prospective parents may inquire directly from accredited child placing agencies.

Push forward

Because adoption is for the future of the children, there is a need for all sectors to support the advocacy for legal adoption.

As Erlene said, “We have to talk about adoption more so that it becomes a normal discussion. We, as parents, would like to share how blessed we feel as parents.”

She recommends that continuous education in schools among teachers and students should be done. The different sectors in society should pitch in and help raise awareness on legal adoption, so that more will consider the process a gift.

From 2009 to 2015, a total of 4,860 children have been issued a certification declaring them legally available for adoption, with 2,533 children still waiting to be adopted.

Sec. Soliman appealed to more families to open their homes for abandoned, neglected children. ###