Special report: Abandonment and adoption

THIRTY-FIVE-year-old Jhuner, who prefers to stay anonymous, is accommodating clients through phone calls and online. He has been working in one of the influential companies under the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) here in Davao City for two years now.

“My foster parents didn’t mention anything about them (his biological parents). Gipasabot lang ko nila na dili ko nila tinuod na anak (They just explained to me that I am not their offspring). I don’t know what to feel that time, pero wala man pud ko na suko (I didn't get angry). I tried to look for my mom and dad, but I failed,” Jhuner said.

Jhuner is grateful that he is alive and that he had great foster parents who, unfortunately, already passed away. He grew up in a good family, he said, although he still wants to meet his biological mother and father.

“I got a lot of maybes in my mind when I was in the mid-20 until such time I just stopped thinking about it. I stopped looking for them. But I still hope to meet them one day. Usahay man gud pag ginapangita di jud makita, pero if di na pangitaon, basin makita (Sometimes we find what we're looking for when we stop searching),” he jested.

Jhuner, who completed a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 2005, could not help but wonder where his biological parents are. He does not have any idea about his biological parents.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Davao Region at present is taking care 45 children in their Reception and Study Center for Children (RSCC) at the moment, with ages ranging from one month to 17 years. They have various cases.

In a data obtained from DSWD-Davao, 11 of the 45 children were abandoned, eight are foundling, three are orphaned, 12 were surrendered, 10 are dependent/neglected, and one physical abused. RSCC also recorded 12 children have been discharged last 2017.

RSCC head Lolita I. Roble said abandoned cases are those children left by their parents/mothers in hospitals, school, church and other place, while neglected are those who have parents but are not capable to take care of their child, and must undergo counseling. She said the agency has three social workers and 17 caregivers who look after the welfare of the child inside the RSCC.

She added that children aged 5–up will be enrolled at Dumanlas Elementary School until they will be returned to their respective biological parents or ready for adoption.

The department also noted 384 children issued with Certification Declaring that the Child is Legally Available for Adoption (CDCLAA), 383 eligible children issued with Prospective Adoptive Parents (Papa), or cleared for Inter-Country Adoption (ICA), and 30 eligible children placed under foster.

Roble said there are cases wherein adopted children would inquire about their biological parents. She added that some of these children who still seek for their biological parents/mothers are already professionals and some are married who inquire about their roots.

“There are really cases na mahihirapan tayo i-trace yung roots lalo na kung ang foster parents hindi dumaan sa legal procedure on adoption. A lot of things should be done, but we can help. For overseas cases, we were informed by the ICA Board. We will be advised to contact and/or locate the biological parents,” Roble said.

But it depends on the situation, Roble said, adding that it is really essential for them to middle when children wish see or find their biological parents as there was an instance that a mother is not interested or ready to see the child she abandoned, because it will only remind her on how she was a victim of abuse and/or rape.

So far, she said, the department has not received any complaints against adoptive parents from the adopted children because they assured the parents’ capability to provide children their physical and emotional needs, aside from the basic needs.

According to DSWD, a person can adopt a child if he or she:

• Is of legal age.
• Is at least 16 years older than adoptee, except when the adopter is the biological parent.
• Has the capacity to act and assume all the rights and duties incident to the exercise of parental authority.
• Is of good moral character and has not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude.
• Is in a good position to support, educate and care for his/her legitimate and illegitimate children and the child to be adopted.
• Has undergone the pre-adoption services.
• An alien may adopt if he/she has diplomatic relations with the Philippines, has been certified by his/her diplomatic or consular office or any appropriated agency that he/she is qualified to adopt in his country, and that his/her government will allow the adoption.
• An alien has been living in the Philippines for at least three straight years prior to the filing of the application for adoption and maintains such residence until the adoption decree is entered. Meanwhile someone is qualified for adoption if he or she is:
• Any person below 18 who has been administratively or judicially declared available for adoption.
• Legitimate son/daughter of one spouse by the other spouse.
• An illegitimate son/daughter by a qualified adopter/s to improve his/her status to that of legitimacy.
• A person of legal age if, prior to the adoption, said person has been consistently considered and treated by the adopter/s as his/her own child since minority.
• A child whose adoption has been previously rescinded.
• A child whose biological parent/s has died provided that no proceedings shall be initiated within 6 months from the time of death of the said parent/s.

Roble said the agency is continuously advocating for legal adoption for the protection and welfare of the child.

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