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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Notice Regarding Time Frames

We just received this email from the Philippines program director at Holt. It definitely isn't encouraging news as we liked the email informing us that the wait time had decreased some for the last few families that had received referrals. We are hoping that we are one of the earlier families on the list since we were put on the official waiting list before the new year. However, this portion "ICAB does give preference to those adoptive applicants where one or both are of Philippine heritage. Childless couples are also given some preference for referral of a child." is disheartening as we don't fit into either of those categories.

"Dear Philippine program families,

Please find attached an email we recently received from the new Executive Director of the Inter-country Adoption Board (ICAB) in the Philippines.

As you can see, due to a recent dramatic increase in applications, ICAB currently estimates a time frame increase to about 2 years for the match of a child for those families newest to this program. There is probably one main explanation for this. As other countries' adoption programs have either closed, lengthened, become less stable, or become more costly, an increasing number of families have begun turning to the Philippine program.

Due to the Philippines' smaller size and population, there are not nearly as many children who become eligible for adoption as there are from some of the larger countries and programs. We still believe the Philippine program to be a very good option. Many of you may have already noted that there are no longer very many country options for families wanting to adopt young children within a short time frame.

ICAB does give preference to those adoptive applicants where one or both are of Philippine heritage. Childless couples are also given some preference for referral of a child. Families who meet this description will likely wait a lesser period of time for a child to be matched with them. However, it isn't possible to say by how much - i.e. would it still be about 2 years, or a lesser time frame?

In light of the above, we recommend doing/thinking about the following:

1) Get your dossiers completed and sent in to us ASAP. The sooner we send your dossiers for ICAB approval, the better. If you have any questions about the dossier, please give us a call. We'd be happy to assist you in any way we can to expedite this.

2) ICAB's letter also indicated that children a little older and/or children with a special need would be matched with adoptive families more quickly. Considering this, if you wish to stay firm with the age and health parameters you originally noted in your application and dossier, it is perfectly fine. However, if you would like to expand the age range and/or health parameters you wish to consider, please let us know that as well. Please note that we do not intend to pressure you to change your current wishes, only to make you aware of this should you wish to consider it.

3) We will send an email out to everyone quarterly with an update as to what the average time frames are that families are experiencing for the referral of a child by ICAB. This way you'll have an idea how this time frame changes over time and thus how it might impact the amount of time you could possibly wait for a child to be matched with you. We are not able to give time frame expectations for individual cases at this time.

ICAB's letter also mentioned a new law they are trying to pass. Most children available for adoption in the Philippines have either been legally relinquished by a birth mother or declared abandoned in the court system. When a birth parent legally relinquishes a child, the clock starts and six months later the child is determined to be legally free for adoption. However, when a child has been abandoned, the process to declare the child abandoned in the Philippine court system will often take three or more years. By that time the child's increased age decreases his/her opportunity for placement because the older a child is the fewer families there are ready and able to adopt him/her. It's for this reason they want this law to pass - to change the process so that an abandoned child could become legally free for adoption at a faster pace.

We will keep you updated at least quarterly about the time frames and how they change over time. Thank you in advance for your understanding and patience with these changes and feel free to call us with any questions you might have."

This is a letter that Holt received from the ICAB in the Philippines.

Dear Partners:

For the 1st quarter of 2008, we have noted the increase in the number of adoption applications. Although we are pleased that many of your families would want to adopt a child from our country, we are also concerned because we currently have very few children available for inter-country adoption. This would mean that there will be a longer waiting period for child placement.

ICAB and DSWD are exerting efforts to lobby for the passage of the law that will make the procedure of abandonment an administrative process which is one way to fast track the movement of children for inter-country adoption. However, until such time, we are concerned that families will have to wait for a longer period of time (perhaps from two years and longer) before they receive a child proposal from our country. Again, we emphasize the need to encourage your adoptive families to be more open in accepting children with some medical conditions and "with no background information" so that the waiting period for a child placement will be shortened. Kindly share this concern with your adoptive families.

Thank you.

Very truly yours,
Bernadette B. Abejo
Executive Director

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