Can You Adopt a Child from Philippines After Typhoon Haiyan

Dawn Davenport


Is it possible to adopt a child from the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan

Our natural instinct makes us want to reach out and help these children in any way we can. Adoption is not one of those ways–at least right now.

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.

Adoptions from Philippines to U.S. for Last Five Years
2012 124 adoptions
2011 229
2010 216
2009 281
2008 291

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“)

14/11/2013 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 29 Comments

29 Responses to Can You Adopt a Child from Philippines After Typhoon Haiyan

  1. Avatar dora says:

    And on top of all the paperwork costs between $30,000 up this is outrageous.
    People don’t want to buy children, people want to raise the children as their own.
    Disgrace full to all governments and their contridictions in saving children,they themselves are the ones profiting on life itself.
    Corrupt all round.

  2. Avatar dora says:

    I agree to disagree with 3/5 year waiting process of adopting children from the devasting traumatized country of the Philippines.
    These children need a safety net even as a temporary place to call home with families whom are willing to save the children from extreme harsh living conditions they are in present.
    Need we forget there
    pedofiles out there as well as corrupt people dressed in sheep’s clothing eager to snatch these angels.

    People from a cross the globe would’ve gone through avenues checked by governments on wheather right to adopt or not criminal checks would be obviously done before hand.

    THis is a humanitarian plee of saving the children and for them to be placed immideatly in homes now. Feed house clothe and school the children.

    Governments get off your fat asses.

    The best interest of children is to save them period!

  3. Avatar Misty Mapes says:

    Kyle & Mandy, I admire your willingness to answer God’s calling. We don’t have quite the same circumstances, as we have 2 biological children and we started the adoption process last January, when we knew almost nothing about the Philippines (it’s embarrassing to admit now). God’s calling for us had never (NEVER) been clearer. God’s amazing this way, eh? His timing is incredible. Some of your comment could have been straight from my heart. In fact, I had a dream last night that it was 2 days ’til Christmas and we still hadn’t gotten gifts for parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews. We were in a bit of a panic for last-minute shopping, when we received THE phone call–a referral for two children (a brother and sister) from the Philippines. So for Christmas, we decided to photoshop the children into a family picture and frame it for each of the families. It was really cool. I wish I could remember the dream better–so I could remember what the kids looked like. I don’t think it’s a premonition or prophesy, but I do believe it’s a blessing that God has given me to help me to bide my time. I didn’t realize I was so anxious, but apparently I have some children on my mind….

  4. Avatar Misty Mapes says:

    Amen. Prayer and money can help these families rebuild and reunite. You said it eloquently. And this is coming from a family in the process of adopting older siblings from the Philippines. It’s about God’s will and God’s timing. It is our privilege to be blessed enough to be able to help orphans, widows, the impoverished, the oppressed, the lost–in every way we can. Thank you, God, for blessing me with a beautiful life. Please give me the wisdom and ability to give to others as You have so graciously given to me.

  5. Avatar Josephine says:

    We love to adopt baby girl from philippines

  6. Avatar emy says:

    i would really love to adopt one or more so i can give them love and home if they bring over here in u.s

  7. Avatar emelia says:

    i would really love to adopt one or more so i can give them love and home if they bring over here in u.s

  8. Avatar Stefanie says:

    Hello to all,
    a friend of my was years ago in Haiti, when the orkan was there and everything was destroid, like now in the filipins. They take two little Babys out to Germany. They only have had the papers, that the parents are dead. Years later they have done the legal adoptacion. without them, i supose the Babys are not alive. There is a way to adopt children, if you can show that the Family is died.

  9. Avatar Cheryl says:

    It is all so sad as it is the children who suffer because of the adults not following the rules. There is trouble in the adoption world also because of adults not sending in post placement reports as they PROMISED to do after the adoptions. IT lopks bad on parents when they don’t follow through.

  10. Avatar Lisa says:

    Hague is not the problem. It’s the politicking, some using Hague to cloak anti adoption agenda, and lack of clear timelines on preference of order on solutions that is the problem. In the case of the Philippines there is no time or resources for fantasyland here they need all their attention on looking for survivors and feeding people etc they have trouble getting emergency services in so they have zero resources to deal at detail level with adoption. And I hate UNICEF so I am not trying to defend them here.

  11. Avatar Selma says:

    Please tell more about adoption this children from Filipino .

  12. Avatar Kyle & Mandy (Future Filipino Parents) says:

    Dawn Davenport, my wife and I enrolled to adopt from the Philippines in mid October, before Typhoon Haiyan hit. We have been childless for eight years and have undergone countless fertility tests and medical procedures with no luck of conception. God placed people in our lives with strong connections to the Philippines. We knew that adopting from this country was the right thing to do. We saw the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan as a sign of confirmation that we were doing the right thing. I see the points you are trying to make, and I feel that you are trying to be an advocate for the Filipino people. However, I have a hard time with the concept of sitting on my hands, doing nothing while my child is just sitting over there suffering. You stated, “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.” If given the choice, I have a hard time believing that a child would rather live alone in the current hazardous conditions than be adopted by a loving, American family. Whether you are a Christian or not, to reach out and help a broken world is just the humane thing to do.
    Quite frankly, I find your article offensive and in bad taste. To have a family has been a dream of ours that has been unable to come true, and I’m certain that there are other families out there in similar situations. Statements like this one show little compassion for families like mine: “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.” To be honest, I won’t lose any sleep at night worried about a stressed government official. They live in nice homes and have a big salary that keeps them warm at night. I do lose sleep thinking about my child, whom you believe would be better off drinking water contaminated by dead bodies floating nearby than with me. Please do families like mine a favor and think about the entire demographic when you write garbage like this.

    • Kyle and Mandy, I can hear your frustration and do see your point. In fact, since you applied to adopt before the typhoon, you will likely be matched with a child that was waiting for a family before the typhoon hit, not a child that may be temporarily separated from their parents or extended family. I’m sure we would both agree that you would not want to adopt a child who was accidentally separated from a loving family by this disaster.

      It remains to be seen how adoptions from the Philippines will be affected by the typhoon. Unlike in Haiti after the earthquake, much of the national government is still functioning. Only the regional government on the affected islands have been disrupted. These local governments ar focusing, as they should, on the more urgent needs of feeding, housing, and reunifying families impacted by this disaster.

      Unless the child that you would have been matched with is from one of these islands, your adoption may proceed with only a slight slowdown. Again, I have little info on what is happening on the ground in the Philippines. I hope for your sake and your child’s sake that he/she will soon be home.

  13. Avatar Jane says:

    Sandy, Any idea why there are so few arrests/convictions if as you say there were so “many, many bad actors?” I thought the USCIS/DOS could issue notices to deny adoptions if any irregularities appear. How many of those notices to deny were issues for those countries? Isn’t that one of the tools of the Hague treaty to prevent baby buying and selling? It just seems that rumors and documented cases seem very far apart. And like many things in the adoption community it’s difficult to understand exactly what is going on.

  14. Avatar Jane says:

    My understanding of Cambodia situation is that their was one bad actor that was arrested and convicted. There are still numerous questions as to why INS/DOS shutdown the country since China has had several bad actors that have been arrested and convicted. I’m not aware of any arrests/convictions in the Vietnam shutdown. I’m also not aware of China ever being shutdown over the arrests/convictions. Cambodia/Vietnam/DRC/Guatemala have all tried to reopen international adoptions and all have been denied under Hague because they cannot meet the treaty requirements. I don’t understand why the differences between the way Hague treats different countries. I don’t have a problem with shutting down a country if their is convincing evidence of baby selling. I definitely don’t want to buy a child, but would like the opportunity to adopt a child and the drop in international adoptions seems odd. I have a difficult time that the INS/DOS does not believe any of the adoptions from Cambodia/Vietnam/Guatemala were adopted illegally from these countries, but there are news articles stating that there are illegal adoption from China. I’m a bit confused.

  15. Avatar Jane says:

    Sandy, Cambodia, Vietnam, Congo, and Russia were the countries we attended information meetings and were told they were closed due to the Hague treaty. Haiti, Guatemala, Taiwan, and Japan were countries where we attended information meeting and were told they were closing due to Hague requirements. We were also told that the Hague treaty increased China wait times. Again, these facts seem to be supported by the DOS press releases and various adoption agencies we contacted. I will also state that some agencies still say it somehow possible to work with these countries, but I don’t consider a program open if the wait time is five years or longer or you have to hold dual passports like Romania. I would agree with you that adoption needs to be easier and less bureaucratic. I also don’t like that some couples are easily able to adopt and other are shut out of the process because they don’t have the right connections.

  16. Avatar Jane says:

    Dawn Davenport, it appears that many of Anon Childless Couple’s comments have a ring of truth in them. It appears that the Hague treaty’s unintended consequences is to prevent adoption and prevent orphans from finding permanent homes. What can be done to fix the Hague treaty and the fact that it is shutting down international adoption (only 9,000 last year?) I know we looked at five different countries only to be told that they are closing due to the issues surrounding the Hague treaty. I’ve been told that most of these issues have to do with implementing the treaty itself, not with corruption or fraud. I’m not sure what the real story is, but given lack of adoption opportunities and the escalating costs of international adoption, almost all the adoption professionals I speak with point to the Hague treaty as the cause. I would hope that we don’t have childless couples and orphans suffering due to needless bureaucracy stopping up the process needlessly.

  17. Ditto what Kimberly said.

  18. Avatar Kimberly says:

    I work for an adoption agency with an established adoption program in the Philippines (we began there nearly 40 years ago). The Philippines is a Hague country with a very solid adoption program that is very child centered meaning they work hard to find families to adopt a child before reaching out to domestic adoption possibilities and as a last resort to international adoption. They currently have many many international families hoping to adopt children under the age of 6. The real need is for families able, qualified, and hoping to adopt children over 6 years old, or with significant special needs or who are a part of a sibling group of three or more. None of these children are those who were newly orphaned during the typhoon. As many others have stated it is unbelievably too soon for those children as no one can be certain of their family’s status and there is a rigorous social work and legal process that each child must go through to find their family and later be declared as needing a family if their biological family is not found or able to care for them. The people of the affected areas will not likely have those kinds of systems in place for quite some time as they work on basic survival and rebuilding. Please consider donating to a reputable aide agency in order to help the children affected by the typhoon.

  19. Avatar John says:

    Thank you, Dawn, for sharing this.

  20. Avatar Vera says:

    This reminds me of the Earthquake in Haiti-right after it happened there was a lot of interest in adopting the children. We adopted our son from the Philippines in 2011 and we have a strong connection to his country and his orphanage however I do agree that if people want to adopt they should go through the proper channels which unfortunately will take a while. The best thing we can do now is to donate aide and supplies.

    Marie, my heart breaks for your country! I pray that if you have any family there that they are safe

  21. Avatar Annon Childless Couple says:

    I completely understand. There are millions of childless couples in the US suffering in silence. UNICEF worked for years to pass the Hague treaty to ensure that their are million of orphans (babies/children) that cannot be adopted or cared for by these childless couples.

    End results we have millions and millions of childless couples and millions and millions of orphans suffering.

    Seems like the UNICEF’s plan is working. The tragedy that had befalling the Filipino people is terrible, the bureaucracy that is trying to NOT help them is truly horrid.

  22. Avatar Marie says:

    Thanks for this. There has been talk going around of people wanting to bring Filipino babies over to the states to adopt them and now really isn’t the time for that. Not only that, but as a Filipino, I know that the culture tries hard to place babies/children with other relatives or family friends first. It concerns me that some of these people who mean well aren’t thinking that there are people, whether parents or other relatives, who want to care for these kids. It just so happens that the nation has been caught at a vulnerable time and it would be in good taste for these people interested in adoption to wait and really go through the proper channels.

  23. Avatar Kari plaster says:

    Thanks for the information here. My heart sunk tonight as I have been looking at the tragic news. My sister was a Peace Corps volunteer in Cebu for 3.5 years. All the family she stayed with and knew there luckily we’re positioned on the top of a fairly good sized hill on the island when the storm was at its worst. I am thankful for their safety and horrified for others. I wanted to open our home as we’ll for an entire family potentially. I wonder if that will become a possibility. These people have nothing. My business gave money already which will be matched by the Canadian government, but the likelihood of those people actually receiving it seems very low given corruption problems. Again I pray that those who need aid will receive it and very very soon!

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