Read Tagalog Translation of the page.

If you have a relative who is a child, age 14 or younger, in the Philippines, you may be eligible to adopt that child under certain circumstances. Americans who are relatives within four degrees can adopt their relatives, age 16 or younger. Due to the length of process set by the U.S. Citizenship and  Immigration Services (USCIS), the process must be started when the child is no older than 14.

Children, eligible for adoption, include those who are orphaned, half-orphaned and/or in sibling groups. If both the child’s parents are still alive, extenuating circumstances must justify the need for adoptive placement. Poverty is often not a strong enough justification.

Contact Hawaii International Child’s Philippine Programs Director Mary Jane Abe at 808.380.1128 for expert assistance in English or Tagalog.

Ways to adopt

When you adopt through the intercountry process with Hawaii International Child (HIC), the family and the child’s paperwork are completed and evaluated through HIC and the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB) in Manila. If both the family and the child are eligible for adoption services, the family must travel to the Philippines for an expected stay of seven to 10 days and is given permission to bring the child to the U.S.  After a six-month monitoring period, the family can proceed with the legal adoption process in the U.S. courts.

HIC is an ICAB-partner agency and works directly with the Philippine government to facilitate the adoption process. HIC families can relax and rest assured that the necessary paperwork and procedures will be handled efficiently and professionally.

Adoptions cannot be completed by an attorney.

Adoption requirements

U.S. citizenship & marriage

At least one of the prospective adoptive parents must be a U.S. citizen.

The Philippines requires that prospective adoptive parents must be defined as a man and woman who have been married for at least three (3) years. If either is divorced (no more than two (2) divorces), they must be married for at least five (5) years before applying for adoption. Single women are eligible to adopt a child who is age nine (9) or older.


Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 27 years-old. The age difference between prospective parents and the adoptive child(ren) can be no less than 16 years and no more than 45 years unless considering a sibling group.

Physical health

Both husband and wife must be physically and mentally fit and free of the following medical conditions: complicated diabetes and/or metabolic syndrome, obesity (BMI of prospective adoptive parents may not exceed 35), a history of cancer, a kidney transplant or any other major transplant (heart, lung, liver), a pacemaker, a history of stroke or myocardial infarction, multiple sclerosis or other degenerative muscular disorders, autoimmune disorders, hepatitis C, or any other risk factors that would impede care for the child (e.g. blindness, deafness, or confinement to a wheelchair).

Employment & Education

Prospective parents must have stable employment or have sufficient finances to justify unemployment, and satisfy the U.S. federal poverty guidelines. Both prospective adoptive parents must be high school graduates or have vocational training equivalent.

Religious Affiliation

Prospective adoptive parents must be and have been members of a church for at least five (5) years with an official letter that attests to the couple’s faith and moral character.

Other Children in the Home

There can be no more than two (2) children in the family under the age of 18 years. Preference will be given to childless couples.

Psychological Evaluation

Prospective adoptive parents may not have disorders that affect mood, depression, abuse, anxiety and/or sexual issues. Both prospective adoptive parents must have a favorable psychological evaluation from a competent practitioner who employs a reasonable combination of assessment processes – clinical interview, evaluation of collateral information and psychological testing among others.

Criminal History

Neither prospective parent may have a criminal history; they must behave honorably, with good moral character, and be law-abiding. Neither should have any of the following histories: a. Domestic violence, sex abuse, abandonment or abuse of children (even if they are not consequently arrested or convicted); b. Use of narcotics, use of opium, morphine, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, etc., or any medication for mental illness; c. If they have a history of alcohol abuse they must show they have been sober for at least ten years. Adoption applications from persons with past criminal violations will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Length of adoption process

Relative adoptions can vary between 10 months to two (2) years to complete, depending on the child’s location in the Philippines, the ease of securing documentation within the region, and paperwork completion of the adoptive family. Once approved to bring the child to the U.S., adoptive parents can expect to spend about seven to ten days in the Philippines. The legal adoption occurs in the U.S. The prospective adoptive parents make clear in their adoption application letter their willingness to allow post follow-ups and provide post reports and photos as required.