Best interest of the child

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison - The Philippine Star

Adoption is the process of giving a child, whether related or not to the adopter, the rights accorded to a legitimate child. Under the Civil Code, the husband and wife may jointly adopt and parental authority is exercised by them as if the child were their own by nature (Article 336). Any person may be adopted even if of age provided the adopter is 16 years older (Article 337). This age difference is required to insure the maturity on the part of the adopter. But may an elder sister adopt a younger brother? This is the issue resolved in this case of Amanda and Macoy.

Macoy and Amanda are husband and wife both Filipinos, 32 years old. Macoy is a lawyer with business interests in several companies, while Amanda is a nurse by profession. They do not have a child of their own blood. Amanda’s parents are June and Carmen who are also the parents of Angelo, four years old who was a sickly child. Due to Angelo’s   poor health, his parents entrusted him to Amanda and Macoy who reared and brought him up. Thus, a deep and profound love developed between the spouses and the child Angelo that induced them to file a Petition for the Adoption of Angelo before the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court (JDRC). The Petition was with the written consent and conformity of Carmen and June. Amanda and Macoy were then allowed to adduce their evidence because no opposition was filed against their petition.

The JDRC however dismissed their Petition on the ground that the adoption will result in an incongruous situation where Angelo, the legitimate brother of Amanda will also be her son. Said incongruity according to the court should prevent the adoption.

On appeal however, the Supreme Court (SC) set aside the JDRC decision and granted the adoption of Angelo. According to the SC there is no law that relatives by blood or consanguinity are prohibited from adopting one another. Article 335 of the Civil Code enumerates those persons who cannot adopt and petitioner herein are not among those prohibited from adopting. Only the following cannot adopt: those (1) who have legitimate, legitimated, acknowledged natural children or natural children by legal  fiction; (2) the guardian with respect to the ward before the final approval of his accounts: (3) a married person without the consent of the spouse; (4) non-resident aliens; (5) resident aliens with whose government the Philippines has broken diplomatic relations; and (6) any person convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude when the penalty imposed is  six months imprisonment or more. Article 338, on the other hand removes all doubts that adoption is not prohibited even in cases where there already exist a relationship of parent and child by nature. It does not preclude adoption among relatives no matter how far removed or in whatever degree that relationship might be. This is not the policy of the law. The interest and welfare of the child should be the paramount consideration. There is no provision of law that expressly prohibits adoption among relatives. They should not be prevented (In the matter of adoption of Edwin Villa, Luis E Santos Jr. and Edipola V. Santos, Petitoners-Appellants, vs Republic, Appellees G.R L-22523, September 28, 1967)

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