With the passage in the Philippines of the Foster Care Act (FCA) in 2012, children suited for adoption now have a chance at finding a family atmosphere faster. Before FCA, adoption is filed in court and as we all know, court proceedings take years before completion. This is true despite the fact that 90% of adoption proceedings are non-adversarial. The FCA authorized the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to recruit foster parents, submit home study reports, issue foster care licenses and supervise foster placements after the matching is done by its accredited agencies. There is no need to go through the courts.
The FCA is a welcome development for prospective adopters and adoptees. The process is quicker and there is less pressure on the part of the foster parent to confer legal rights to the foster child. When one legally adopts, the adopted child enjoys the rights and privileges of a legitimate child, such as full entitlement to the parents’ inheritance. No such legal rights are conferred on the foster child. The foster child, however, is protected against corporal punishment and enjoys the rights of a child to parental assistance, proper care and nutrition, a home, love and care, and opportunities for growth and development, albeit temporarily.
The most radical reaction to the passage of the FCA came from eager prospective adopters whose goal is to have a child he or she could call his or her own. There is no need to fret. Article VI of the FCA provided for the right of the foster parent to apply for a Long-Term Foster Placement Authority (LTFPA), provided the child has been under the care of a foster parent for a period of at least seven (7) years. Other conditions for the grant of the LTFPA are as follows: (1) the child’s return to his biological parents or placement in an adoptive family is not imminent; (2) the foster parent continues to possess the qualifications required under this Act and a valid foster family care license for the entire duration of the foster care.; (3) the child, if ten (10) years of over, duly assisted by a social worker, gives written consent for long-term stay with the foster parent; and (4) aside from the regular monitoring visits, the DSWD shall reassess and re-evaluate the foster home situation every three (3) years, to determine whether it is in the best interest of the child to continue living in the foster home on a long-term basis (Section 15, FCA).
Moreover, the foster parent is not barred from adopting the child should he or she wish to do so. In such a case, the procedures for adoption shall be governed by the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998 or the Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995, whichever is applicable.
Certain incentives were also provided for in the law to encourage those who may want to become foster parents. The foster child will enjoy financial subsidy from the DSWD unless the same is waived by the foster parents. The foster parents will also enjoy tax exemptions such as the 25,000 Pesos exemption for dependents. Further, agencies are exempt from income tax and its donors are allowed to deduct the amount donate to its gross income and may further claim exemption from donor’s tax.