DSWD Adoption and Foster Care Program in the Philippines

In the heart of every child lies the fundamental need for love, security, and a place they can call home. Countless children in the Philippines have been given hope through the Adoption and Foster Care Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). This program isn’t just a policy; it’s a commitment to nurture the lives of the less fortunate children and to empower compassionate Filipinos to open their hearts and homes.

This project offers hope for children in need of a nurturing family. It provides a framework for individuals and families who want to make a meaningful impact through adoption or foster care. The program benefits both children and parents, ensuring their life and their best interests. DSWD’s policies prioritize matching children with suitable families in a systematic and caring way.

alternative care and adoption

What is the DSWD Adoption and Foster Care?

This is a legal process that allows qualified individuals to become parents to children whose biological parents are unable to care for them. 

Adoption provides these children with permanent homes, while foster care offers a temporary safe space until they can be reunited with their families or placed for adoption.


The legal basis for the adoption and foster care programs in the Philippines is primarily established under Republic Act No. 8552, otherwise known as the “Domestic Adoption Act of 1998”, and Republic Act No. 10165, known as the “Foster Care Act of 2012”.

  1. Republic Act No. 8552 provides the framework for the domestic adoption of Filipino children by Filipino citizens or aliens. It outlines the processes, requirements, and effects of adoption within the Philippines, ensuring that adoptions are made in the best interests of the child and that they preserve the child’s rights.
  2. Republic Act No. 10165, the Foster Care Act, sets the standards for the placement of children in foster homes as a planned, temporary alternative family care arrangement for a child, and outlines the qualifications and obligations of foster parents. It aims to provide a family-like environment for children who are temporarily unable to reside with their biological families, with the ultimate goal of reuniting them with their biological parents or, if that is not possible, to place them for adoption.
  3. Additionally, the creation of a Regional Alternative Child Care Office (RACCO) in every region of the Philippines is mandated by Republic Act No. 11642, known as the “Domestic Administrative Adoption and Alternative Child Care Act”. This act streamlines the process of declaring a child legally available for adoption and ensures a more efficient and systematic approach to the alternative child care system, including both adoption and foster care.

These laws ensure that every child in the adoption or foster care system is provided with a nurturing and loving environment and that the rights and welfare of the child are prioritized throughout the process.

what is adoption

Credits: DSWD / Facebook
legal basis
Credits: DSWD / Facebook


The benefits of this program extend beyond the children. It gives adoptive and foster parents the joy and fulfillment that come with nurturing a child. 

It also ensures the rights of the child are protected, and they are given the opportunity to grow up in a family environment, which is essential for their holistic development.

Eligibility / Qualifications

Who can adopt or become a foster parent? Here’s a summary of qualifications based on the DSWD guidelines:

  • For Adoption:
    • Filipino citizens who are at least 25 years old.
    • Possess a good moral character and have not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude.
    • Physically, emotionally, and psychologically capable of caring for children.
    • At least 16 years older than the adoptee.
  • For Foster Care:
    • The same qualifications apply as for adoption.
    • Additionally, temporary foster care can be provided by government officials stationed or deployed abroad.

Foreign nationals and Filipinos residing abroad who meet specific qualifications are also eligible to apply.

Credits: DSWD / Facebook


  • Application Form – This is the initial document that officially starts your adoption process. Ensure that all information provided is accurate and complete.
  • Birth Certificate – An official document that verifies your identity and age. You can request this from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
  • Marriage Certificate, Divorce Annulment, Declaration of Nullity of Legal Separation Documents (if any) – Provide proof of marital status. If applicable, include documents that prove the legal dissolution or separation from a previous marriage.
  • Written Consent to Adoption – This is a legal agreement from the biological parent(s) or guardian(s) allowing the adoption to proceed. It is essential this is duly signed and witnessed.
  • Medical Certificate Issued at Least 6 Months – A recent health certificate to confirm your physical and mental fitness to care for a child. It’s advisable to get this from a certified physician.
  • Latest Income Tax Return or Certificate of Employment – This document is used to assess your financial capability to support a child. Ensure that it is the most recent and reflects your current financial status.
  • National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance or Police Clearance Issued at Least One Year – A clearance to certify that you have no criminal record. The NBI or police clearance should be recent to reflect your current standing with the law.
  • Three (3) Letters of Character References – These should be from non-relatives who can vouch for your character and suitability as an adoptive parent. Choose individuals who know you well and can provide a comprehensive and honest reference.
  • 3×5 Inch Sized Whole Body Photos of the Applicant and, Where Applicable, His/Her Family Taken Within the Last Three (3) Months – Current photos that show you (and your family if applicable) which may be used for the home study and matching process. Ensure these are clear and presentable.
  • Certificate of Attendance to Adoption Forum – This certificate proves that you have completed the required seminar or forum on adoption. Keep this document safe as it’s a crucial part of your application.

A Home Study Report will be prepared by a social worker to evaluate the applicant’s suitability.

Credits: DSWD / Facebook

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Apply for Adoption Program

1. Attend a Pre-Adoption Forum/Seminar

This is an essential first step where you will learn about the adoption process, the legal implications, and the emotional aspects of taking in a child.

2. Application and Documentation

Fill out the application form and submit the required documents. This step includes an extensive check on your background, motivations, and living conditions.

3. Home Study Report

A social worker will visit your home to assess your living situation and discuss your readiness to adopt or foster a child.

4. Matching and Placement

If deemed suitable, you will be matched with a child. You’ll receive detailed information about the child’s background and needs to ensure a good fit.

5. Supervised Custody

Once matched, you’ll undergo a period of supervised custody, allowing you and the child to adjust and bond.

6. Finalization

The adoption is finalized in court, making you the legal parent(s) of the child.

how to
Credits: DSWD / Facebook
Credits: DSWD / Facebook
Credits: DSWD / Facebook

Success Stories / Recent Updates

Arugâ: An Alternative Child Care Conference Promotes Quality Care for All Children

The Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation, in collaboration with the National Authority for Child Care (NACC) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), hosted the highly anticipated Arugâ: An Alternative Child Care Conference last November 16 & 17, 2023. 

This two-day event brought together child caring and placing agencies, with the participation of esteemed Undersecretaries from NACC and DSWD.

During the conference, participants delved into crucial action points aimed at enhancing the quality of care provided to children. The shared goal was to ensure that every child, regardless of their circumstances, receives the same nurturing and loving care. The conference emphasized the importance of a collective understanding and commitment to providing an ideal quality of care for all children.

Arugâ served as a platform for stakeholders to identify concrete actions and strategies that will contribute to the well-being and development of children. The event fostered collaboration and knowledge-sharing among professionals in the field of child care, ultimately working towards a society where every child is raised in a nurturing and supportive environment—lahat ng bata, laki sa iisang arugâ.

Video: Gov’t announces faster legal adoption process in PH

The National Authority for Child Care (NACC) has recently announced significant changes to the adoption process, aimed at expediting the legal adoption of children. According to Imelda Ronda, a representative from NACC’s Domestic Adoption Unit, applicants will no longer be required to file a petition of adoption in court, a process that can often take up to a year. Instead, under Republic Act Number 11642, the filing process will now only last for six to nine months.

Administrative and ACC Under Secretary Janelle Ejercito Estrada emphasized the importance of not patronizing adoption through social media platforms like Facebook. This move aims to ensure that adoption procedures are conducted in a regulated and secure manner.

In a separate development, foster parent Arceli Ricafort, who has already adopted 23 children over a span of two decades, expressed her desire to continue adopting more children. Despite her significant contributions to providing a loving home for numerous children, Arceli remains committed to making a difference in the lives of even more children in need.

These recent changes in the adoption process and the dedication of individuals like Arceli Ricafort highlight the ongoing efforts to improve the welfare and future prospects of children in need of a loving and stable home.



The journey of adoption or fostering a child may be complex, but it’s a path filled with hope and love. It’s about giving a child a family that they can belong to and thrive in. Through the DSWD program, you can make a substantial difference in a child’s life and experience the profound joy of parenthood. The program is meticulously designed to ensure that every child’s best interests are at the forefront, and that every prospective parent is well-equipped for this life-changing endeavor.

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