Philippines

Last Updated: May 2014

Hague Adoption Convention Country?

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Hague Convention Information

The Philippines is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations, as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of the Philippines.

In September 2012, the Philippine Central Adoption Authority, the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB), instituted a new rule (also referred to as a “conditional moratorium”) limiting the number of new dossiers it will accept to petition to adopt a child without special needs. The rule does not apply to children in the Waiting Child Program or relative adoption cases. ICAB has stated that the rule is intended to help reduce wait-times for referrals from approximately two to three years to just 1.5 years. This rule replaced the former moratorium, instituted in December 2010, on new applications from prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a child under the age of two.

Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Read about Transition Cases.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS


To bring an adopted child to the United States from Philippines, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. law in order to immigrate to the United States on an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.

Who Can Adopt

In addition to the U.S. requirements, the Philippines obliges prospective adoptive parents to meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from the Philippines:

  • Residency: Requirements for U.S. Citizens Residing in the Philippines U.S. citizens interested in completing a full and final adoption of a Filipino child while living in the Philippines must be residents of the Philippines for at least three years prior to the filing of the adoption petition and maintain such residence until the adoption is finalized. U.S. citizens living in the Philippines do not need to possess a certificate of legal capacity to adopt, which is normally required by Philippine courts in domestic adoptions. Prospective adoptive parents can instead obtain a letter from the American Citizens Services section of U.S. Embassy Manila that states that the U.S. government does not issue certificates of legal capacity to adopt.  To request this letter, please contact U.S. Embassy Manila’s American Citizen Services section at: acsinfomanila@state.gov.

    Prospective adoptive parents who meet the residency requirements should a) file a petition for adoption with the Philippine court to begin the adoption process; and b) submit the letter from the American Citizen Services section in lieu of the certificate of legal capacity.

    The Philippine government may waive these requirements if a) the prospective adoptive parent(s) are former Filipino citizens who seeks to adopt a relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity, as defined by Philippine law; or b) the prospective adoptive parent seeks to adopt the legitimate child of his/her Filipino spouse.

    Requirements for U.S. Citizens Residing outside of the Philippines
    The three year residency requirement does not apply when U.S. prospective adoptive parents do not reside in the Philippines. In those cases, the prospective adoptive parents will pursue the Hague Adoption Convention process and gain legal custody of the child prior to the child receiving an immigrant visa. The prospective adoptive parents will finalize the adoption in the United States.

  • Age of Adopting Parents: Based on the Inter-Country Adoption Law of the Philippines (Republic Act No. 8043), the prospective adoptive parent must be at least 27 years of age and at least 16 years older than the child at the time of application, unless the adoptive parent is the biological parent of the child to be adopted or the spouse of such parent.  The maximum age gap between the prospective adoptive parent and the child to be adopted must not exceed 45 years.
  • Marriage: If prospective adoptive parents are married, they must have been married for at least three years. They must file jointly for adoption.  Applicants who have lived together in a common law relationship for several years must have been married for at least one year, although ICAB will take into account the stability of the relationship prior to the marriage. Single applicants are eligible to adopt children between six and 15 years old in the Waiting Child Program. For prospective adoptive parents with a history of divorce, ICAB will consider prospective adoptive parents who have a history of two or fewer divorces and assess the stability of the current marriage to evaluate the suitability of a placement.  Philippine law does not recognize same-sex marriage, but does not expressly forbid gay, bi-sexual, or transgendered individuals from applying to adopt individually.
  • Income: Prospective adoptive parents must have a minimum annual income of $40,000 USD.
  • Other: Prospective adoptive parents must not have ever been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.  They must be in a position to provide proper care and support and necessary moral values to all of their children, including the child to be adopted. The Philippine government will ascertain the prospective adoptive parents’ ability to provide necessary moral values from references from community or religious groups (priests, pastors, etc.), or from people who know the prospective adoptive parents and can testify that they have the capacity to care for the child.

    Prospective adoptive parents must have at least a high school diploma.  

    Obesity is an unacceptable medical condition for prospective adoptive parents.  ICAB previously defined obesity as a BMI of 35 or above.  A more recent addition to the list of unacceptable health conditions is “metabolic syndrome,” which is defined as a medical disorder that, when occurring together with a high BMI, increases a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  A prospective adoptive parent’s BMI is still taken into consideration along with other health and lifestyle factors.

Who Can Be Adopted

Because the Philippines is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from the Philippines must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of the Philippines have determined that placement of the child within the Philippines has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to the Philippines’ requirements, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee to be eligible for an immigrant visa that will allow you to bring him or her to the United States.

Note: The adoption of relatives is common in Philippine society.  Learn more about adopting a relative

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:


  • Relinquishment: In order for a child to be eligible for adoption, his or her birth parents must first relinquish her/him through a Deed of Voluntary Commitment. This document allows the birth parents to release the child to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for subsequent adoption.
  • Abandonment: In the event that the child has been abandoned and no parent is available to sign the Deed of Voluntary Commitment, a licensed and accredited child-placing agency or other acceptable entity can petition the Department of Social Welfare and Development to issue a certificate stating that the child is legally eligible for adoption. Other acceptable entities that can petition include: a licensed and accredited institution managed by the national government or local government unit; a non-governmental organization; or a provincial, city, or municipal Social Welfare Development Officer who has actual custody of the child.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: A child must be under 15 years of age.
  • Sibling Adoptions: In most circumstances, the Philippines strongly encourages siblings to stay together in adoption.  In some cases, teenage siblings may be adopted separately through the Waiting Child Program, which encourages the adoption of children with special circumstances or needs. See below for more information on the Waiting Child Program.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Children in the Waiting Child Programmust be older than 73 months or meet one of the following criteria:
    • Be in need of major surgery or have a major illness;
    • Have developmental delays;
    • Have a handicap;
    • Be part of a sibling group of older children; or
    • Have been sexually or physically abused.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: Prior to departing Philippines with the child, adoptive parents must complete a five-day bonding period in the country.
  • Other: None

How To Adopt

WARNING: The Philippines is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in the Philippines before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.

Philippines’ Adoption Authority
Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB), an agency attached to the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Note: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying Philippines as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or; 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. For more information, read about Transition Cases. Please contact adoptionusca@state.gov with the details of the case if this situation applies to you.

The Process


Because the Philippines is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from the Philippines must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

1. Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
2. Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
3. Be matched with a child by authorities in the Philippines
4. Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
5. Adopt (or gain legal custody) of the child in the Philippines
6. Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Philippines is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may provide adoption services between the United States and Philippines. The U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider will act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

Prospective adoptive parents are required to work with an adoption agency authorized by the Inter-Country Adoption Board. View this list of agencies.  

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt

After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to ICAB as part of your adoption dossier. ICAB will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Philippine law.

3. Be Matched with a Child in the Philippines

If both the United States and the Philippines determine that you are eligible to adopt, and if ICAB has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, ICAB may provide you with a referral for a child.  The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in the Philippines.  ICAB will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not.  Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates this information to ICAB.  Matching by the ICAB’s Inter-country Adoption Placement Committee is not required for intra-family adoption or special needs cases. Learn more about this critical decision.

4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption

After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.

After provisional approval of Form I-800, you or your adoption service provider will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila, which is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Philippines.  A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.

WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to ICAB in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from the Philippines where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform ICAB that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.

Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in the Philippines before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.

Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

5. Adopt (or Gain Legal Custody) of Child in the Philippines

Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Philippines, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in the Philippines.

The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in the Philippines generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: ICAB receives dossiers from adoption service providers, reviews and processes applications, and matches children with prospective adoptive parents. As a final step, it issues placement authority.

    The Inter-Country Adoption Placement Committee, part of ICAB, reviews the matching proposals during the matching conference. ICAB maintains two placement committees; each team is composed of the following: a child psychiatrist or psychologist, medical doctor, lawyer, registered social worker, and a representative of a non-governmental organization engaged in child welfare.

  • Role of Adoption Agencies: The adoption agency, or adoption service provider, facilitates the pre-adoption counseling, home study, submission of application for adoption, child assignment, application for the child's intercountry adoption through ICAB, and post-adoption/placement reporting.
  • Time Frame: Adoption processing depends upon many variables, including the availability of children to be matched with prospective adoptive parents, the number of prospective adoptive parents on the waiting list, and the caseloads of Philippine social service agencies and courts.
  • Adoption Application: To start the Philippine intercountry adoption process, prospective adoptive parent(s) or their authorized adoption service provider must file an application with ICAB.
  • Adoption Process:
    • Endorsement of child for intercountry adoption: The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) must administratively declare that a child is legally available for adoption as a prerequisite for adoption proceedings.  For intra-family or relative cases, the biological parent(s) execute a Deed of Voluntary Commitment, signed in the presence of DSWD Social Workers.
    • Matching: The Inter-Country Adoption Placement Committee matches the child with a prospective adoptive parent(s) and refers its proposal to ICAB for approval.  ICAB will then send a notice of a proposed match to the adoption service provider representing the prospective adoptive parents.  The prospective adoptive parent(s) notify their adoption service provider of their decision with respect to the matching proposal within 15 days of receipt. Note: ICAB prohibits contact between the prospective adoptive parents and the child's parents /guardians or custodians before the Committee matching proposal has been approved. Exceptions to this rule include adoptions of a relative or in cases where the child’s best interests as determined by ICAB are at stake.
    • Placement Authority: ICAB transmits the Placement Authority document to U.S. Embassy Manila within five working days of receipt of the prospective adoptive parents' acceptance of the matching proposal.
    • Application for immigrant visa: The child appears at the embassy for his/her preliminary immigrant visa interview, together with the social worker from ICAB. At this stage, prospective adoptive parents are not required to appear for the interview.
    • Issuance of Article 5 letter: Upon receipt of the Placement Authority from ICAB and U.S. Embassy Manila’s completion of the immigration review, U.S. Embassy Manila will provide ICAB with the Article 5 letter.
    • Convention Article 17(c) Certificate: Upon receipt of the Article 5 letter, ICAB will issue their Convention Article 17(c) Certificate, which transfers legal custody of the child to the prospective adoptive parents for the purposes of emigration and adoption abroad. U.S. Embassy Manila will then schedule the child for the final immigrant visa interview.  The adoptive parents do not need to be present for this interview.
    • Child travels to the United States: After finalizing the child’s immigrant visa issuance with U.S. Embassy Manila, the adoptive parent or parents must escort the child from the Philippines to the United States upon completion of a five day bonding period in country.
    • Post-placement period: Upon the child’s arrival to the United States, the adoptive parents enter a six-month post-placement period where the accredited adoption service provider in the United States monitors the child's welfare and reports back to ICAB every two months. This requirement also applies to intra-family (or relative) adoptions. ICAB then reaffirms its consent to adopt.
    • Petition for adoption in the United States: The adoptive parent(s) should then file a petition for adoption before the court in the United States.  In the majority of cases, this is required in order for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.
    • Final adoption decree: The adoption service provider should submit to ICAB the final U.S. adoption decree within a month of its issuance.  
  • Adoption Fees: Your adoption services contract with your adoption service provider should itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.

    Information on adoption fees required by ICAB is available on their website, in the FAQs section.

    When the prospective adoptive parent is a foreign national, the court petition to adopt costs 10,000 pesos (approximately $245).

  • Documents Required: The following documents must be written and officially translated into English. They are required as part of the application for adoption submitted to ICAB:
    • Home study;
    • Birth Certificate(s) of prospective adoptive parent(s);
    • Marriage Certificate or Decree of Absolute Divorce, if applicable;
    • Written consent of the prospective adoptive parents' biological or already adopted children who are ten years of age or over, witnessed by the Philippine social worker after proper counseling;
    • Physical and medical evaluation by a duly licensed physician;
    • Psychological evaluation by a psychologist;
    • Most recent income tax return or any other documents showing financial capability;
    • Clearance issued by the police of other proper government agency of the place of residence;
    • Character reference from the local church minister/priest, employer, or a non-relative member of the immediate community, who has known the prospective adoptive parents for at least five years;
    • Form I-800A Approval (proof that the prospective adoptive parent(s) are suitable and eligible to adopt under U.S. law);
    • Article 5 Letter, provided by U.S. Embassy Manila, which shows that the child to be adopted is allowed to enter the United States and reside permanently, once adopted; and
    • Recent postcard-sized pictures of the prospective adoptive parent(s) and all immediate family.

    Note: Additional documents may be requested.

  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic.  If so, the Department of State, Authentications office may be able to assist. Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents.

6. Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States.

Birth Certificate
If you have finalized the adoption in the Philippines, you will firstneed to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport. ICAB will help prospective adoptive parents acquire the birth certificate.

If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.

Philippine Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Philippines. ICAB will help prospective adoptive parents acquire a Philippine passport for their adopted child.

U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines. After the adoption (or grant of custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy in Manila for final review of the case, final approval of Form I-800, and issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, in order to obtain your child’s immigrant visa.  This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.

Read more about the Medical Examination.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States:  An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.

* If your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting. Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy.  The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to the Philippines
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.  To find information about obtaining a visa for the Philippines, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State.  Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary.  Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Philippines, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

After Adoption

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
According to Philippine law, after the adoptive parents assume custody of the child and escort him/her to the United States, they enter a six-month post-placement period where the adoption service provider in the United States conducts bi-monthly reviews of the child’s welfare and reports the information to ICAB.  After adoptive parents complete the post-placement period, the adoptive parent(s) should file a petition for adoption before the court in the United States.  The adoption service provider should submit the final U.S. adoption decree to ICAB within one month of its issuance.

We urge you to comply with the Philippines’ post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to the Philippines’ history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen parents.

Post-Adoption Resources
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption.  There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin.  Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Philippines
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Ermita, Metro Manila - 1000
Tel: (632) 301-2000 extension 5184 or 5185
Fax: (632) 301-2591
Email: IVManilaAdoptions@state.gov
Internet: manila.usembassy.gov

Philippine Adoption Authority
Inter-Country Adoption Board
P.O. Box 1622
#2 Chicago corner Ermin Garcia Streets
Barangay Pinagkaisahan
Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines
Tel: (632) 726-4551; 726-4568; 721-9781/82; 721-9711; 721-9770
Fax: (632) 725-6664
Email: adoption@icab.gov.ph
Internet: icab.gov.ph

Embassy of The Philippines
1600 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 467-9300
Fax: (202) 467-9417
Email: washington.pe@dfa.gov.ph; washingtonpe@philippinesusa.org;
washingtonpe2010@gmail.com
Internet: philippineembassy-usa.org

The Philippines also has consulates in Chicago, Guam, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, Northern Mariana Islands, and San Francisco.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI, SA-17A, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C.  20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
Email: AdoptionUSCA@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet: uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-800A or I-800 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email: NBC.Hague@uscis.dhs.gov