I want to adopt my fiancee’s child. What should I do? Is it really necessary to get the father’s consent? The father has long abandoned the child. In fact, after signing the birth certificate, he was never seen again and has never given a single centavo for the support of my fiancee’s child.
You did not indicate in your letter whether the child you are planning to adopt is the legitimate or illegitimate child of your fiancee. Nonetheless, Section 7 of Republic Act (RA) 8552 or the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998 provides that husband and wife shall jointly adopt, except when (1) one spouse seeks to adopt the legitimate son/daughter of the other, or (2) one spouse seeks to adopt his/her own illegitimate son/daughter or (3) the spouses are legally separated from each other. Therefore, if both of you are seeking to legitimize the status of your fiancee’s child, then both of you must file a Petition for Adoption. On the other hand, if you are only seeking to adopt your fiancee’s legitimate child, then you can file a Petition for Adoption on your own.
You must also be qualified under the same Section 7 of RA 8552. The law states that if you are a Filipino citizen, you must be of legal age, in possession of full civil capacity and legal rights, of good moral character, have not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude, emotionally and psychologically capable of caring for children, at least sixteen years older than the adoptee and is in a position to support and care for the child in keeping with the means of the family. The age requirement of sixteen (16) years may be waived when the adopter is the biological parent of the adoptee or is the spouse of the adoptee’s parent.
Section 9(d) of RA 8552 also provides that the biological parent(s) of the child, if known, must give his/her/their written consent to the adoption. The Supreme Court, however, has consistently ruled that the consent of the biological parents may be dispensed with when the parent whose consent is being requested has abandoned the adoptee. The Supreme Court in Cang vs. Court of Appeals ruled that consent is unnecessary when the parent has abandoned the child (296 SCRA 128). Abandonment in adoption cases “connotes any conduct on the part of the parent to forego parental duties and relinquish parental claims to the child, or the neglect or refusal to perform the natural and legal obligations which parents owe their children (Santos vs. Ananzanso, 16 SCRA 344).
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org