Fernandez: A love worth declaring

FROM February 18 to 24, the country observes Adoption Consciousness Week. This observance sends out the message of love expressed through legal adoption.

The theme of this year’s celebration “Love Sees No Differences” underscores the importance of bringing love to children who are longing for familial care and affection.

In this issue, the Social Focus gives you the steps and the various processes involved in domestic adoption.

The process of adoption, which usually takes over a year, legally and socially binds both prospective adoptive parents and prospective adoptive child through a series of activities.

First, both parents and the child should fulfill requirements as prescribed by law. The local social welfare offices and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) offices take the lead in the adoption process and assist the public on the list of documentary necessities.

Prospective adoptive parents should attend adoption forums arranged by the DSWD offices nationwide after which they may file their applications at the nearest DSWD regional office.

Social workers, through interviews and home visits, then assess the prospective parents’ parenting capability to provide the best welfare of the child. The agency, based on recommendations of the social worker, then decides for the approval or disapproval of the application.

Once approved, the DSWD goes through a “matching” or family selection where social workers handling prospective adoptive children and prospective parents interact and talk about preferences. It is carried out with the Child Welfare Specialist Group (CWSG). This prevents ‘shopping’ for prospective parents as they are not allowed to select children.

After parents and children are “matched”, the social workers prepare the child for actual placement. Here, information about the child is shared with the prospective parents to help them appreciate the children’s background.

The social worker then facilitates the physical transfer of an adoptive child to the residence of the prospective parents who shall be responsible for his or her care and custody.

The process, however, does not stop on the placement of the child. A supervised trial custody for a period of at least six months in the home of the prospective parent is carried out as the social worker conducts regular visits. Post-placement reports are submitted to the DSWD by the social worker.

If the supervised trial custody is deemed satisfactory, the social worker shall recommend the issuance of the Consent to Adopt to be signed by a DSWD director. Here, the prospective parents will now be advised to hire a legal counsel who shall prepare the petition for adoption and who shall represent them in court proceedings.

The legal process now begins as the court shall evaluate the qualifications of the prospective parents together with reports from the DSWD. Once satisfied, the court issues the Adoption Decree which seals the adoption of the child. Adoptive parents will be given the Adoption Decree and the Certificate of Finality.

The court then forwards copies of these documents to the local civil registrar for the amendment of the child’s birth certificate. The amended birth certificate will now be given to the adoptive parents.

The DSWD shall be providing post-adoptive services if deemed necessary.

As we observe Adoption Consciousness Week, let us keep in mind that adoption is a manifestation of great love for children who have been deprived of a family; a love that is no different from the love given by parents to their biological children.

It should not be seen as a label to create stigma among adopted children but rather a gift that should be valued and appreciated by families and the society. It is a love that should not in any way discriminate from biological children.

Lastly, adoption is a form of love created between adoptive parents and children who are bound by their longing to be whole again – a love that creates families – a love that is worth declaring.
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