Relatives by adoption: Breaking exclusivity rule (1)

While still restricted compared to a natural legitimate child, it significantly abates the internal caste and discrimination against the adoptee inside his own adoptive family.

Republic Act 11642, known as the Domestic Administrative Adoption and Alternative Child Care Act, breaks new ground in the Philippine adoption landscape. Beyond the procedural uncomplicatedness through the implementation of an administrative adoption process to supplant the tedious judicial adoption route, the new adoption law has finally resisted the age-old rule of exclusivity in adoption which had beleaguered our adoption laws for decades.

Under the rule of exclusivity, adoption creates a legitimate relationship of parent and child between the adopter and the adoptee, but it is limited to both of them. In other words, the filial relationship does not extend to the relatives of the adopter because our laws and jurisprudence had consistently recognized that adoption is a personal relationship and that there are no collateral relatives by virtue of adoption.

The advent of the Domestic Administrative Adoption and Alternative Child Care Act pushes our adoption laws forward in considerable stride, as it now guarantees that the adopted child is not left without relatives. Section 41 of RA 11642 provides that “(T)he legitimate filiation that is created between the adopter and the adoptee shall be extended to the adopter’s parents, adopter’s legitimate siblings, and legitimate descendants.”

Taken with the unequivocal pronouncement of the law that the adoptee “shall be considered the legitimate child of the adopter for all intents and purposes and as such is entitled to all the rights and obligations provided by law to legitimate children born to them without discrimination of any kind,” there can be no doubt that the new adoption law has engendered relatives for the adopted child, however, limited it may be.

By a stroke of this legal fiat, therefore, the adoptee gains relatives beyond a parent, as he or she now becomes a grandchild, a legitimate nephew or niece, a legitimate brother or sister, or even an aunt or uncle to the adopter’s other descendants.

Consequently, the new adoption law brings about a family, not merely a parent, for the adoptee, and embraces him or her in an extended familial environment. While still restricted compared to a natural legitimate child, it significantly abates the internal caste and discrimination against the adoptee inside his own adoptive family.

If we closely examine the legal effects of recognizing adoptive relatives for the adoptee, the benefit to the adopted child is encompassing. The law commands that the adopted child shall be entitled to love, guidance, and support in keeping with the means of the family. Given that the adopted child now has relatives, support may come not only from the adopter, as a parent, but should likewise be demandable from the adoptee’s other relatives in accordance with Article 195 of the Family Code.

Equally, by establishing the relationship of the adoptee with the adopter’s legitimate descendants where the adoptee becomes a brother or sister to the adopter’s legitimate children, the adopted child is legally included within the definition of family relations under Article 150 of the Family Code. Therefore, any suit between the adoptee and the legitimate children of the adopter should be compulsorily preceded by earnest efforts towards a compromise following Article 151 of the Family Code under the penalty of dismissal of a suit between family members.

On the matter of parental authority, the new adoption law grants full parental authority to the adopter over the adoptee, unless the biological parent is the spouse of the adopter.

If the spouses adopted jointly it follows that parental authority belongs to both. What is interesting is the extension of the legitimate filiation of adoption to the adopter’s parents where the adoptee is now considered the legitimate grandchild of the adopter’s parents.

With this, there is a sufficient legal basis to conclude that substitute parental authority may be exercised by the adopter’s parents over the adoptee in the absence of the adopter.

This legal perspective formerly had no underpinning under the archaic rule of exclusivity in adoption, given the personal and limited relationship that the then-adoption law provided. Republic Act 11642 now shines new light on this rule, in keeping with the thrust to protect and promote the best interests of the adopted child.

For more of Dean Nilo Divina’s legal tidbits, please visit www.divinalaw.com. For comments and questions, please send an email to [email protected]


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