Manila, Feb. 1, 2003 - The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) called on Filipino families yesterday to be more open to adoption and accept Filipino children who are in need of alternative wholesome family environment.

The call was made as the DSWD spearheads the celebration of Adoption Consciousness Day today with the theme "Pag-Aampon: Pamilyang Pinoy: Para sa Batang Pinoy."

The theme is anchored on the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998 (Republic Act 8552) which encourages local adoption so as to preserve the child’s identity and culture.

Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that there is a growing number of orphaned, abandoned and neglected Filipino children in need of parental care and family environment.

In 2001 alone, the DSWD served a total of 3,270 abandoned and neglected children vis-à-vis the number of children placed for adoption pegged at 1,247 for local adoption and 316 for inter-country adoption.

Soliman explained that if local adoption is not possible, inter-country adoption or adoption of Filipino children by foreign families may also be considered but only as a last resort.

She added that the continuing cultural biases and misconceptions of Filipino couples, like the unfounded fear for inferior genetic anatomy of children being placed for adoption, discourage them to adopt.

Adoption is a socio-legal process which enables a child who cannot be reared by his biological parents to acquire legal status wherein he/she can benefit from new relationship with a permanent family.

Meanwhile, Soliman stressed that RA 8552 sets the deadline of the amnesty for rectification of simulated birth until March 2003.

She urged couples who resorted to simulation of birth to avail of the amnesty and legalize their acts of adoption.

Simulation of birth is the tampering of the civil registry making it appear in the birth records that a certain child was born to a person who is not his/her biological mother, causing such child to lose his/her true identity.

The offense carries with it the punishment of six years and one day to 12 years imprisonment and a fine not exceeding P50,000.

From 1998-2001, a total of 359 applications for rectification of simulated birth were received and processed by the DSWD.

Concerned parties may go to the nearest DSWD Field Office in their area and seek assistance regarding the amnesty and the adoption process

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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