President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law that makes the process of adopting a child easier for Filipinos.

Republic Act No. 11642, also known as the Domestic Administrative Adoption and Alternative Child Care Act, was signed by the president on January 6, 2022, and released to reporters Thursday.

In signing the law, Duterte recognizes “the policy of the State to ensure that every child remains under the care and custody of parents and be provided with love, care, understanding, and security towards the full and harmonious development of the child’s personality.”

“The best interest of the child shall be the paramount consideration in the enactment of alternative care, custody, and adoption policies,” the new law read.

Under the law, the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB) will be reorganized to a one-stop quasi-judicial agency on alternative child care known as the National Authority for Child Care (NACC), attached to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“All duties, functions, and responsibilities of the ICAB, the DSWD, and those of other government agencies relating to alternative child care and adoption are hereby transferred to the NACC,” the law read.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM), in coordination with the ICAB and the DSWD, shall formulate a cohesive organizational structure with corresponding plantilla positions responsive to fulfill the functions and divisions of the NACC.

The NACC, the law said, shall ensure that the petitions and all other matters involving alternative child care, including the issuance of Certificate Declaring a Child Legally Available for Adoption (CDCLAA), and the process of domestic and inter-country adoption, foster care, kinship care, family-like care, or residential care are “simple, expeditious, and inexpensive, and will redound to the best interest of the child involved.”

The law also mandates the creation of a Regional Alternative Child Care Office (RACCO) for each region of the country which will be tasked to ensure a well-functioning system of receipt of local petitions for CDCLAA and adoption, and other requests regarding alternative placement and well-being of children.

It also sets specific periods which the NACC, the RACCOs, and other government offices should decide on petitions for adoption and facilitate documents.

The decision of the NACC shall be appealable to the Court of Appeals within 10 days from the receipt of the Order by the interested party.

To protect the welfare of the child to be adopted, the law requires a home study report or a written report prepared by an adoption social worker relative to the motivation and capacity of the prospective adoptive or foster parents to provide a home that meets the needs of a child.

RA 11642 penalizes exposing the child to be adopted to “danger, abuse, or exploitation” as well as “simulation of birth” or the fictitious registration of the birth of a child under the name of a person who is not the child’s biological parent.

This Act is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 1933 and House Bill No. 8998, which was passed by the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives on Sept. 28, and Sept. 29, 2021, respectively. (PNA)