Shortly after our newspapers and TVs began showing the tragic pictures of devastation in the Philippines from Typhoon Haiyan, the emails began to arrive from people interested in adopting a Pilipino child “orphaned” by this tragedy.
“When we saw the crisis in the Philippines with the typhoon–it touched our hearts and we would like more information on how we can adopt a child from that area.”
“We can’t go to the Philippines to help all those suffering, but we can open our home to a child and provide a lifetime of love by adopting an orphaned child.”
Why Not Adopt from the Philippines Right Now
I understand this desire to rescue—this desire to help a child in any way we can. Unfortunately helping in the form of adopting is seldom the best approach immediately after a disaster.
- In the aftermath of a natural disaster, it is surprisingly hard to determine if a child is truly an orphan or just temporarily separated from his family. The government and relief organizations must move slowly to allow immediate and extended family members to find each other.
- Once a child is determined to be an orphan, the first step is to try to find members of his extended family or community to adopt him. This effort takes time. Literally and figuratively, the dust needs to settle and the mud needs to be cleared.
- From a practical standpoint, the Philippine’s government is stressed to the max just coping with the immediate needs of its people. The last thing they need on their plate right now is the slow and arduous process of adoptions. And the last thing any of us want is another fiasco of fraudulent international adoptions.
- Travel to Philippines is not safe right now, and the limited supplies available there need to be used for Filipinos, not foreigners traveling to adopt children or try to rescue them in some way.
- Orphans of a natural disaster have been traumatized, and moving to a new home, with new parents, new language, and a new culture may not be in the child’s best interest even if they cannot be adopted in their birth country.
- International adoptions are a long, often drawn out process, and don’t lend themselves to the hurried atmosphere immediately following a natural disaster.
Adoption From the Philippines After the Dust Settles
The Philippines has an active, although small and relatively slow, international adoption program. Only 124 children were adopted from the Philippines to the US in 2012.
Domestic adoptions within the Philippines are increasing which means a longer wait for young “healthy” children for international adoptions. Adoptions from the Philippines take about two to three years for a child without special needs, although it can be considerably faster for a child with special needs, an older child, or sibling groups. Check out the Creating a Family chart for adoption from the Philippines. Children under two years are not currently being placed.
It is too early to tell how Typhoon Haiyan will affect adoptions from the Philippines, but my gut feel is that it will not have a significant impact other than a slow down while the government copes with this disaster. I do not anticipate a dramatic increase in the number of children available for adoption.
P.S. If you want to help a child affected by this tragedy in the Philippines donate to a reputable organization. Check out this CNN list of such organizations providing relief.
Image credit: CNN News (from a good article titled “Typhoon survivors fight to protect kids as security deteriorates“)