Top Ten Factors to Consider When Adopting from the Philippines

Top 10 Factors to consider when adopting from the Philippines. Info about parental requirements, available children, costs, and process.
Top 10 Factors to consider when adopting from the Philippines. Info about parental requirements, available children, costs, and process.

1. The Parents

Applicants who wish to adopt from the Philippines must be at least 27 years old and at least 16 years older than the child being adopted. The oldest parent in the home should not be more than 45 years older than the adopted child. Prospective parents must be married for at least three years, with no more than two divorces between them.

Single women are only eligible to adopt children ages 9-15 years old from the Special Home Finding Program (special needs/Waiting Children program), as are prospective parents who are over 50 years old. Philippine law does not recognize same-sex marriage, but it does not expressly forbid LGBTQ individuals from applying to adopt individually. Please speak to your placing agency about the specifics of your situation. Hopeful applicants must not have ever been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. Special preference is given to childless applicants or prospective parents of Filipino descent.

Prospective adoptive parents must have a minimum of a high school diploma, and the minimum family income requirement is $40,000 annually. The family should be actively practicing some form of religion to which they will expose their child. Prospective parents must be in generally good health. If any of the following medical conditions apply to a prospective parent (married or single), they are ineligible to adopt:

  • Severe diabetes, diabetic mellitus
  • Obesity (BMI should be 35 or below)
  • Cancer
  • Major organ transplant (heart, lung, kidney, liver)
  • Pacemaker/stroke/myocardial infarction
  • Multiple sclerosis and/or other degenerative muscular disorder
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Hepatitis C
  • Any risk factors that will impede the care of a child (a parent who is blind, deaf, wheelchair-bound, etc.)
  • Psychiatric disorders or psychological issues such as mood disorders/major depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, sexual disorders

2. The Family

In general, the Philippines program prefers smaller families. Prospective adoptive families can already have up to 3 children in the home if they apply to the Traditional Program (details below). However, if a family has four children and is open to an older child or a child with special needs, they may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please speak with your placing agency about your family’s situation. Parents must wait 12 months after the birth or adoption of their youngest child before applying to adopt again from the Philippines programs.

3. The Kids

The children waiting for adoption live in both public and private care institutions. Typically, they have come to the orphanages from relinquishment or abandonment due to medical needs, poverty, or stigmas around single motherhood. In 2022, 57% of the children placed were male, and 43% female. Most of those children were five to 12 years old.

4. The Process

Hague-accredited agencies work with the Philippine Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB) to identify qualified, home study-approved families for the legally available children.

Once you have applied and been approved by your chosen placing agency, they will guide you through the dossier and home study process to meet all the Hague Convention requirements. The dossier is then sent to the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB) for formal approval.

The Philippine Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB) offers three tracks for receiving a referral:

  1. The Special Home Finding Program is for children 6-15 years old, including sibling groups and children with more moderate to severe physical or medical needs and delays. Families interested in adopting from the Special Home Finding program can apply for a specific child from monthly lists that ICAB issues and submit a request for that child. If approved, ICAB will invite the family to submit a dossier. If the dossier is approved, the family will be sent a proposal to accept the child.
  2.  The Traditional Program operates on a quota system. Placing agencies are given an annual limit to the number of dossiers they can submit for adoptive families each year. Families who choose this program must submit their dossier to ICAB in that calendar year. Once ICAB approves a dossier, the family is placed on the ‘Roster of Approved Families’.  Families in the Traditional Program do not request a specific child but rather receive a child referral from ICAB based on the parameters they are approved for in their home study and immigration approval. The wait time for a referral from ICAB is 3-5 years after a family is included in the ‘Roster of Approved Families’.   Hopeful families who wish to adopt from the Traditional Program must meet all the program specifications, with no waivers approved by ICAB. As stated previously, preference is offered to families of Filipino descent. Prospective parents who are not Filipino Americans typically wait longer for a referral. Single women and parents aged 50 years old and above are not eligible to adopt from the Traditional Program.
  3. The Relative Program.  The Philippines also allows families who meet specific requirements to apply for the adoption of relative children within the 4th degree who have been cleared for inter-country adoption. Please talk with your placing agency to learn more about this process.

Referral files from the Philippines will include photos of the child, a background study, a health and medical profile, and a psychological evaluation as available. The files are usually quite detailed and reliable, and the children enjoy good medical care and emotional support while in care.

Children are of Asian, Malay, and Spanish descent and range from 4 to 15 years old and represent both genders. Some sibling groups are available. Children older than five years, with special needs, up to 15 years are typically part of the special needs program, called the Special Home Finding Program. Children 4 and older with more minor medical needs and/or developmental delays are typically part of the Traditional Program. It is rare for a child under 4 to be available from the Philippines.

5. The Travel

Once a family accepts a child referral and the match between the child and adoptive parent(s) is approved by ICAB and US Immigration, your agency will assist you in making travel plans. Parents take one trip, approximately seven days long. Only one parent is required to travel, but it is strongly recommended that both parents make the trip.

While in-country, parents typically visit the orphanage to meet their child and partake in an Entrustment Ceremony. Parents must also meet with the ICAB for a pre-departure visit and are provided with all the necessary documents to return to the US with their new child. 

6. The Program

The Philippines’ programs are small but stable and predictable. As a party to the Hague Convention, the ICAB focuses on placing Waiting Children in approved homes. In 2022, The Philippines placed 67 children. This compares to 68 in 2021, 39 in 2020, and 94 in 2019.

7. The Cost

The Median Adoption Service Provider Convention Fee for 2022 was $33,075.00, according to the State Department’s FYE 2022 Annual Report. This does not include documentation fees and notarizations required for the dossier, education fees, or in-country travel. Families should expect their total cost to range from $30,000 to $50,000.

8. The Needs

The most common needs of the waiting child program are sibling groups and a variety of minor to moderate medical conditions (such as but not limited to cleft lip/palate, visual impairment, hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, etc.) or developmental delays (of language/speech, motor skills, etc.). There are not enough referrals annually to get a consensus from international adoption clinics on the prevalence of FAS/FASD.

9. The Post-Adoption Reports

The child’s adoption is finalized in the family’s state of residence once the parents arrive home with the child. There is a required post-placement period (of about seven months), where the home study social worker will visit with the family and submit reports to the placing agency (if different), who will provide them to ICAB. They describe how the transition progresses and how the family and child are attaching.

After that period, if ICAB is satisfied, they will issue a Consent to Adopt letter that the adoptive parents must take to court to finalize their adoption in the U.S. The final U.S. adoption decree should then be submitted to the ICAB within one month of receipt. The family must then apply for the child’s Certificate of Citizenship.

Creating a Family always urges families to comply with post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your cooperation contributes to the program’s stability and The Philippines’ history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen parents.

10. The Additional Resources

This information is current as of September 2023 and represents our best estimates and approximations only. Depending upon your individual circumstances, even the widest ranges can vary greatly. Please always refer back to your chosen adoption service provider for specifics regarding your process.

This information is subject to change; therefore, check with an agency approved to place from this country for the most current information.

© Creating a Family

Image Credits: Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ - (Title) and (2)