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The Salient Features of Administrative Adoption

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The Salient Features of Administrative Adoption

By Atty. Jonathan de Guzman.

 

On 13 March 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte signed RA 11222, ‘an act allowing the rectification of simulated birth records and prescribing administrative adoption proceedings for the purpose.’

Essentially, the law grants amnesty to all those involved with the simulation of birth certification – i.e. the falsifying of the civil registry to make it appear that a child was born to someone other than its biological mother – and provides for rectification of the records of those whose birth certificate was simulated before the enactment of the law. It will excuse from civil, criminal, and administrative liability those who simulated the birth certificate of a child prior to the effectivity of the Act, provided the petition for administrative adoption AND application to rectify the birth certificate are filed within ten years of the effectivity of the Act.

According to its principal sponsor and co-author, Senator Risa Hontiveros, it is hoped that this law will encourage more Filipino families to adopt children. Previously, many were wary of doing this for varying reasons. Some were fearful of the cost; others were afraid that once a child was reported as abandoned and free for adoption, social workers would simply take it away.

However, some would-be-adopters fail to appreciate the legal consequences of adopting a child without going through proper proceedings, as the ‘adoptee’ might  not be entitled to any share in the inheritance should the ‘adopter’ die, or vice versa. They might also be considered as strangers in any insurance claim if the ‘adoptee’ is not affiliated with the ‘adopter’ by blood. These are only some of the repercussions of not going through the proper procedure.

This law is intended to afford an opportunity of adoption to those who genuinely care for the well-being of a child and to expedite the adoption process for those would-be-parents who have been taking care of a potential adoptee for a considerable time.

It should be kept in mind that most adoption cases require certification from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that the child is legally available for adoption, except in cases where the adoptee has already attained the age of majority. Certification is also not needed when the adopter is within the 4th civil degree from the adopter – for example, when the adopter is an uncle or aunt.

The administrative adoption proceeding essentially has the same requirements as the domestic adoption, in addition to which the adopter has to show proof that the adoptee was living with him/her for at least three (3) years before the law took effect. The advantage of the administrative adoption proceeding is its simplicity, in that it does not entail tedious court proceedings.

What must the petition contain? What documents need to be attached?

The petition must contain the facts surrounding the simulation of the birth of the child and the reason why it is in the best interest of the child to proceed with the administrative adoption. The following documents must also be attached:

  1. Copy of the simulated birth certificate;

  2. Affidavit by the third person admitting the simulation of birth, if such simulation was done by a third person;

  3. Certification by the Barangay Captain where the child is residing that the adoptee has been living with the adopter for at least three (3) years before the law has taken effect;

  4. Affidavit of two (2) disinterested person residing in the same barangay where the adoptee is residing to attest to the fact that the adoptee has been living with the adopter for at least three (3) years before the law has taken effect;

  5. Certificate to declare the child available for adoption (unless it falls under the exception as mentioned above); and

  6. The photograph of the adoptee with the adopter taken at least three (3) months before filing the petition.

What is the procedure for the administrative adoption?

The petition must be filed before the Office of the Social Welfare and Development Officer (SWDO) of the place where the child is residing. If the petition is not sufficient, it will be returned stating the deficiency. If the petition is sufficient in form, the documents shall be forwarded to the Regional Director. Basically, in order for the petition to be sufficient in form and in substance, the facts surrounding the simulation of birth must be present AND all the documents must be presented before the SWDO.

The director will then send it to the Department Secretary to decide and act upon the petition. If the Director finds that the adoption is in the best interest of the child, the order of adoption shall be issued and it will retroact to the date that it was filed before the SWDO.

 

What effect will it have if the administrative adoption is granted?

  1. The simulated record of birth shall be cancelled

  2. Issuance of rectified birth record with the names of the biological parents or issuance of foundling certificate

  3. Issuance of new birth certificate.

The cancellation and the issuance of the birth certificate shall all be recorded in the Local Civil Registry where the adoptee is residing.

Grounds for rescission

The adoptee, with the assistance of SWDO/DSWD or by him/herself, can file the petition to rescind the adoption. The grounds for rescission are the same as with the Domestic Adoption with an additional catch-all provision for rescission.

    1. Repeated physical or verbal maltreatment

    2. Attempt on the life of the adoptee

    3. Sexual assault or violence

  • Abandonment and failure to comply with parental obligations(those under the family code such as providing for support)

  • Other acts that are detrimental to the psychological and emotional development of the adoptee. (emphasis supplied)

The process for rescission shall have the same process for filing the petition for administrative adoption.

Successive governments have been consistent in their role of protecting the welfare of children. The Family Code always favors legitimacy over illegitimacy, for example where it provides that children conceived and born during the subsistence of a marriage shall be presumed legitimate (Article 164 ). Now, the new, simplified, and therefore less costly, administrative adoption process eliminates the nuances of prolonged litigation in order to secure adoption papers. And though it is limited in scope, since this law only covers those whose birth certificate was simulated, it provides an opportunity for  more children to be given the status and benefits of legally adopted sons and daughters.

    Atty. Jonathan de Guzman. April 30, 2019. LINK: The Simulated Birth Rectification Act. RA11222.

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