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Pearl S. Buck Newsletter: 9th Global Consultation on Child Welfare Services “Adoption: Opening Windows for Development

Posted by FAN Admin in International/Adoption Philippines, News on 09 10th, 2007

9th Global Consultation on Child Welfare Services “Adoption: Opening Windows for Development”
By Heather Carter

In September, I attended the 9th Global Consultation in Tagaytay City, Philippines.  The Global, as it’s called, is a biennial conference hosted by the Intercountry Adoption Board (ICAB) and the Association of Child Caring Agencies of the Philippines (ACCAP).  Attendees include adoption professionals from the Philippines, staff and directors of child caring agencies (aka orphanages), and adoption professionals from around the globe.  The Global provides a time for people to come together to receive updates on the status of adoption in the Philippines, to share ideas about how best to serve children needing families, and to network with other people invested in finding permanency for children.

One of the most frequent topics of discussion was how children become eligible for international adoption.  Right now 75% of the children awaiting families became eligible for adoption because their birth parents voluntarily relinquished their parental rights by signing a Deed of Voluntary Commitment (DVC).  The remaining 25% of children became eligible for adoption through abandonment.  However, the child caring agencies (CCAs) were reporting that there is a much higher percentage of children that are abandoned.  Because the process of declaring a child abandoned must go through the judicial system, it can take a few months to a few years for a child to be declared abandoned.  The amount of time it takes varies widely due to the attitudes, procedures, and workload of the district judges.  If a judge is negative about adoption or has a full docket already, it can easily take over a year for the child to be declared abandoned.

ICAB, ACCAP, and other interested professionals have proposed new legislation that would make the declaration of abandonment an administrative process rather than a judicial one.  This would require that the Department of Social Welfare and Development and/or the child caring agency search for the birth parents for a period of time.  If the birth parents were not found within that time, the child could be deemed abandoned without going before a judge.  People have been advocating for this change for a number of years already and it seems this advocacy is gaining momentum.  While the conference was in session the Manila Times published a wonderful opinion piece by Attorney Eric Mallonga, a member of ICAB, around this issue. You can find the text of that article here –

Ultimately, I came back from the conference invigorated and excited about finding families for Filipino children.  In visiting two child caring agencies, we saw the love and care that the children receive.  Although many of the child caring agencies don’t have the level of resources and support that they need or want, they give the children the best care they can.  I also came back with a better understanding of the children that need families.  While there are some young children (i.e. under 2 years old) waiting for families, there are also many school-age children waiting. There are also sibling groups, mostly of 3 children and more, who are also waiting for families.  Some of the children have special needs while some of the children are healthy, normally developing children who’s only “special need” is that they are not an infant or toddler.  I look forward to helping find families for these children!!

Program status and time frames:
We currently have 9 families in our Philippines program.  Two families are awaiting finalization, one family is waiting for travel, three families are waiting for referrals, and three families are completing their application/home study/dossier.

Of the three families waiting for referrals, the family waiting the longest has been waiting 9 months.  The family most recently matched received a referral 15 months after their dossier was approved by ICAB.  Although ICAB is trying to match children more quickly, it is currently taking about 18 months from dossier approval to referral.

Waiting Children
We currently do not have any waiting children from the Philippines.  We are waiting for ICAB to assign us our next group of waiting children.  Stay tuned to future newsletters for more information!