Rules for Philippine Adoption


Adoption between the United States and the Philippines is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention.  Therefore to adopt from the Philippines, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government.  The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, The Philippines also has the following requirements for adoptive parents:

•    RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS:  U.S. citizens interested in completing a full and final adoption of a Filipino child while they are living in The Philippines must be residents of The Philippines for at least three years prior to the filing of the adoption petition, maintain such residence until the adoption is finalized, and posses a certificate of legal capacity to adopt issued by the appropriate agency from the state of residence.  Prospective adoptive parents who meet these requirements should file a petition for adoption with the Philippines Court to begin the adoption process. 

The Philippines Government may waive these requirements if the prospective adoptive parent is a former Filipino citizen who seeks to adopt a relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity as defined by Philippines law, or the prospective adoptive parent is a person who seeks to adopt the legitimate child of his/her Filipino spouse.

   U.S. citizens not meeting these residency requirements will have to adopt through the Inter-Country Adoption Board procedures. This involves gaining legal custody for the purpose of adoption and completing a full and final adoption in the U.S. after a six-month trial period. This process is explained below.

 Based on the Inter-Country Adoption Law of the Philippines (Republic Act No. 8043), the adoptive parent must be at least 27 years of age and at least 16 years older than the child to be adopted at the time of application, unless the adopter/adoptive parent is the biological parent of the child to be adopted or the spouse of such parent. 

  If prospective adoptive parents are married, they must file jointly for adoption.

•    INCOME REQUIREMENTS:  There are no minimum income requirements set by The Philippines.  Prospective Adoptive Parents must prove financial stability.

•    OTHER REQUIREMENTS:  Prospective adoptive parents must not have ever been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. Parents must be in a position to provide proper care and support and to give necessary moral values and example to all his/her children, including the child to be adopted.  Prospective adoptive parents agree to uphold the basic rights of the child as embodied under The Philippines laws and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.


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 Convention requires that the Philippines attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption.  In addition to the Philippine’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.

Note:  The adoption of relatives is common in Philippine culture. 


•    Relinquishment Requirements:  A child is “committed” by way of the “Deed of Voluntary Commitment,” a document used by DSWD asking for signature from the biological parents prior to matching the child with a prospective adoptive parent.  The document is essentially the consent of the parent(s), releasing the child to DSWD for subsequent adoption.  In the event that the child is abandoned or neglected and no parent is available to sign the “Deed of Voluntary Commitment,” the DSWD instead obtains a commitment order from the court.  This endorsement certifies that intercountry adoption is in the best interests of the child.



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.

NOTE:  If you filed your I-600a with The Philippines before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption.  Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. 

1.    Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
2.    Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
3.    Be Matched with a Child
4.    Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States 5. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in the Philippines
5.    Bring your Child Home

1.)  Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:   

The first step in adopting a child from The Philippines is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited.   Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and The Philippines.  Learn more.

Please note: Prospective adoptive parents are required to work with an adoption agency that has also been approved by the Philippine Government.  A non-government foreign adoption agency (FAA) intending to process the application of a Filipino child must be accredited by ICAB.  Philippine approved agencies can be found on the website for ICAB at

2.)  Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:   

After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).     

Once the U.S. Government determines that you are “eligible” and “suitable” to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in The Philippines.  The Philippines’ adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Philippino law.


3.)  Be Matched with a Child:  

If both the United States and the Philippines determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in the Philippines may provide you with a referral for a child.  The Philippine’s Central Authority prepares a report that determines that: the child is adoptable, the envisaged placement is in the best interest of the child, the birth parent or legal custodian has freely consented in writing to the adoption, and no payment has been made to obtain the consent necessary for the adoption to be completed. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.

4.)  Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:  

After you accept a referral to a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800).  USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. 

After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy.  The Consular Officer will review the child’s information and evaluate the child for possible visa inelegibilities.  If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify the Philippines’ adoption authority (Article 5 letter).  For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place.  Learn more.  

Remember:  The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.  

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

Remember:  Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in The 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 purpose of adoption in The Philippines.  

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

•    ROLE OF THE COURT: The Regional Trial Courts are responsible for domestic adoptions in The Philippines.  This is where prospective adoptive parents file adoption petitions.
•    ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES:  The adoption agency facilitates the pre-adoption counseling, submission of application for adoption, home study, child assignment, and application for child’s overseas adoption to the Philippine Government.
•    ADOPTION APPLICATION: To start the Philippine adoption process, prospective adoptive parents or their accredited FAA must contact the Philippine Inter-country Adoption Board (ICAB).

•    1)     Application:  The prospective adoptive parents file an application with the ICAB through a United States adoption agency.

•    2)     Endorsement of Child for Inter-Country Adoption: The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should endorse to the ICAB a child who has been previously committed to the Philippine Government.  See “Relinquishment of the Child” for a description of “committed.”
•    3)     Matching:  The Inter-Country Adoption Placement Committee matches the child with a person or couple interested in adopting and refers its proposal to ICAB for approval.  If the match is approved, the concerned adoption agency in the United States shall be sent a notice of matching proposal. 
•    4)     The prospective adoptive parents shall notify the adoption agency in the United States of his/her decision within 15 days of receipt of the matching proposal.  Note: The Philippine Inter-Country Adoption Act prohibits contact between the prospective adoptive parents and child’s parents /guardians or custodians.
•    5)     Placement Authority:  The ICAB shall issue the Placement Authority within five working days upon receipt of the prospective adoptive parents’ acceptance of the matching proposal.
•    6)     Application for Immigrant Visa: The child appears at the Embassy for his/her immigrant visa interview.
•    7)     Child travels to the United States: The adoptive parents must escort the child from The Philippines to the United States.
•    8)     Supervision of Trial Custody:  Upon assuming custody of the child, the adoptive parents enter a six-month trial period where the accredited adoption agency in the United States monitors the child’s welfare.

•    9)     Petition for Adoption: After completion of the trial custody period, the adoptive parent should file a petition for adoption before the court in the United States.
•    10)  Final Adoption Decree. The final U.S. adoption decree should be submitted to ICAB within a month after its issuance. 

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 caseload of social service agencies and the courts.

 In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.

The following documents, which must be written and officially translated into English, shall accompany the prospective adoptive parents’ application for adoption:
•    Family and Home Study Reports on the family and home of the prospective adoptive parents;
•    Birth Certificates of prospective adoptive parents;
•    Marriage certificate or Decree of Absolute divorce, if applicable;
•    Written consent of the prospective adoptive parents’ biological or adopted children who are ten years of age or over,
•    witnessed by the social worker after proper counseling;
•    Physical and medical evaluation by a duly licensed physician and psychological evaluation by a psychologist
•    Latest 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 have known the prospective adoptive parents for at least five (5) years;
•    Certification from the U.S. Department of Justice or other appropriate Government agency that the prospective adoptive parents are qualified to adopt under their national law and that the child to be adopted is allowed to enter the country for trial custody and reside permanently once adopted; and
•    Recent postcard-size pictures of the prospective adoptive parents and all immediate family.

NOTE:  Additional documents may be requested. You will be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic.

6.)  Bringing Your Child Home

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

Birth Certificate

You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport.  Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

Philippines Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Philippines.

U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child.  After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child’s I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child.  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.

On October 1, 2007, the U.S. Embassy Manila’s panel physicians began using the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2007 Tuberculosis Technical Instructions (TB TIs) for the TB medical screening for all immigrant visa applicants from Kenya, including adopted children.  The 2007 TB TIs include new requirements that affect the pace at which some adoption cases can be concluded.
Child Citizenship Act 

For adoptions finalized abroad:  The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.

For adoptions finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when the court in the United States issues the final adoption decree.

*Please be aware that 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.


What does The Philippines require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?

According to Philippine law, after the adoptive parents escort the child to the United States and assume custody of the child, they enter a six-month trial period where the accredited adoption agency in the United States monitors the child’s welfare.  After adoptive parents complete the trial custody period, the adoptive parent should file a petition for adoption before the court in the U.S.  The final U.S. adoption decree should be submitted to the ICAB within a month after its issuance.

*Updated May 2009