Adoption · Japan

Adoption in Japan…

I wanted to blog about my autumn leaves trip, but I’m still reeling from watching these documentaries about institutionalized children in Japan. Japan’s history of adoption isn’t a pretty one. According to the documentary most institutionalized children cannot be adopted because the parents refuse to relinquish their parental rights. In Japan 98% of all adoptions are of adults (primarily ages 20 – 30 years old). If you don’t know much about Japanese culture and are scratching your head read this. I won’t spend too much time of that because this is about children, so what that means is that 2% of adoptions in Japan are of children. Let’s do some simple math.

If 100 adoptions occur in Japan then 2 of those are children.

Okay that’s a low number. Let’s go a little higher.

If 1000 adoptions occur in Japan then 20 of those are children.

If 10,000 adoptions occur in Japan then 200 of those are children.

If 50,000 adoptions occur in Japan then 1000 of those are children.

Those last listed numbers (50,000/1000) are probably closest to Japan’s actual number of children of adopted each year albeit less than on the children side.

Compare that to the US number of 135,000 children adopted annually. Technically you can’t compare.

In 2014, 513 children were adopted in Japan.

Let’s use these numbers to do some more simple math (incidentally the only kind of math I can do).

The US population is approximately 323,000,000 which means 0.04% of the population is adopted.

The Japanese population is approximately 127,000,000 which means 0.0004% of the population is adopted.

The comparison is staggering.

The 513 article also mentions that they aim to place one third of Japan’s lost children into homes by 2029 (a little over ten years from now). If this is the case great, but I think Japan still needs to do better. I love this country, my own adopted home, but there are many things about this place that is unsettling for someone from a dramatically different culture. In fact, getting Mamoru to agree to an adoption took at least a year. Moreover, he has specific requirements for adopting a child which I’m hoping will become a little more flexible (and more like mine) over time. My requirements are any child pre-elementary school (which means a child from another country would be okay as well i.e. China, Vietnam, etc.). Mamoru is more rigid. Initially he only wanted a baby but I think after talking with お父さん he would be willing to adopt a child from infancy to under 2 years old. お父さん believes an older child will have less hidden health problems (as in any problems will be more evident in a older child). In addition, Mamoru absolutely will not adopt from China. I don’t know how open he’d be to adopting from another country, so at the moment we will focus on Japan. (FYI: Even though I am American, the US is out of question because there are more families in the US wanting to adopt than there are children available to adopt. Japan seems to be the opposite with unfortunately a good number of those children being unavailable for adoption due to the aforementioned parents unwilling to relinquish parental rights.

I hope this gives you some insight into the hurdles we face with adoption in Japan. Of course, we are hitting this hard. Mamoru is in change of communicating with NPOs (as it’s illegal to make a profit off adoption in Japan), and I’m in charge of educating myself both on general adoption as well as how it is in Japan. I appreciate any well wishes you wish to send our way. Be well.

(Note: Autumn leaves coming soon!)

5 thoughts on “Adoption in Japan…

  1. Is fostering a thing there? Not that I’m suggesting you should foster, just wondering if it would be possible for a family to take in a child even if their original family isn’t willing to relinquish their rights?

    All the best to you and your husband!


    1. Yes and there’s also the foster-to-adopt program which can take kids out of institutions and if they are able to be adopted can be done after 6 months of fostering.


  2. The parental rights issue burns me up so bad. How can parents do that to their children? If you don’t want to raise them, then how can you be so selfish can keep them from ever having a family? It just makes me tremble with anger when I think about it.

    Even though the workers care about the children, it’s just there aren’t enough of them for the number of children.

    I’m glad you’re husband is turning around on the adoption issue. My husband has slowly been as well. He’s not ready to fully consider it until IVF is no longer an option for us. My eggs are running out fast so we probably only have a couple more years to try anyway.

    We’re thinking about that option as well, but it is tough. I hope they change the laws on indefinite custodial rights. It doesn’t seem fair to the children.

    Liked by 1 person

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