Adoption · Japan · Life · Miscarriage

Women and children first…

Today it’s raining quite heavily.  Although the weather forecast predicted such, I’m still surprised because the last three days have been so beautifully sunny and warm.  I can hide inside most of the day, but I have a freelance appointment later.  I’m not looking forward to it.

I spent the better part of the ride home from Company H yesterday in tears.  Recently, I’ve been talking to a woman from the adoption Facebook group I belong to.  She recommended an NPO that Mamoru and I had not yet contacted.  When Mamoru contacted them, they told him they have not decided how they will handle international couples once the law goes into effect in April.  It’s been my experience that not many Japanese couples are keen to adopt.  I don’t know if this law is meant to encourage more Japanese people to adopt.  So far the only thing it’s doing it killing my hopes left and right.  While I can understand a hesitation to work with a purely foreign couple, I think Mamoru and I should fall into the same category as Japanese.  We reside in Japan.  We work and pay taxes here.  We have no plan to leave.  We plan to raise our children in Japan.  We plan to send our children to school here.  How is that different from a Japanese couple?  Agencies may be hesitant to place a child with an entirely foreign couple fearing they may leave Japan at any give time.  Though my question is what does it matter?  Once the child is legally adopted by a family, what stock does Japan take in the child thereafter?  So who cares if a foreign couple adopts and takes the child out of Japan?  Perhaps Japan is worried about its shrinking population.

If we liken Japan to a sinking ship, the phrase “women and children first” would apply right?  The lives of children should be prioritized because they are the future and women hold the power to continue future generations.  However, Japan has made it known time and time again that women and children are dead last.  Here in Japan women are still stuck in the 1950s.  Her first job is wife, followed by mother.  If a woman wants to have a family in Japan, she generally gives up working (and I’ve even known some to give up working as soon as they get married).  If a woman chooses to return to work after childbirth, she if oftentimes bullied.  She is asked: What kind of mother are you?  This has forced women to prioritize career over family (since Japan says they can’t have both) thus resulting in a continually shrinking population.  And children?  Japan has one of the highest rates of institutionalized children of any developed nation (not to mention 25% of children who are fostered out of institutions are later returned).  Japan is a wealthy country.  They can afford to take care of their children.  They don’t.  Children are abused, neglected, and abandoned left in the care of institutions.  Meanwhile, the majority of the parents of these children don’t relinquish their parental rights leaving these children to fade into the system.  My solution for this (which I wrote in my report for our local institution) would be to sever the parental rights once physical custody is relinquished or the child is removed from difficult situation.  At Japan’s glacial speed, I doubt this will happen in the near future.

Meanwhile, Mamoru and I can provide a loving home for children in need of a family.  While we are not wealthy, we are stable.  We would be able to provide for children, take care of their needs and wants, but most of all we have love to give, so much love to give.  What’s more is we have support from both our families in favor of adoption (unlike many Japanese couples).  My heart breaks daily.  It breaks to think about children in need, abandoned by their parents and institutionalized.  It breaks to see happy families walking hand in hand.  It breaks to see pregnant women.  It breaks to see the pregnancy announcements, the ultrasound photos, and the baby pictures that litter my Facebook feed.  It breaks to listen to my neighbor’s children play next door.  In the book I just finished From Pain to Parenthood: A Journey Through Miscarriage to Adoption the author said they waited seven years told adopt their baby girl.  This means she counted her MCs as part of their journey and time spent waiting for their baby.  I count mine too.  Mamoru and I started our journey to parenthood in December 2015.  Two years and four months later we are still waiting for our babies.  That counts.  That’s two (soon to be 3 Mother’s Days and Father’s Days we’ve not been able to celebrate).  That’s two miscarriages and countless failed cycles.  That’s so many tears shed that I cannot count them all.  That’s many other families started and completed.  That’s two soon to be three birthdays passed.  That’s three Christmases and New Year’s.  That’s time we could be spending with our children.  Time we can’t ever get back.

However, there’s nothing more we can do than what we’re doing at this moment.  Work with as many NPOs as we can, attend seminars, send documents, apply online to adopt, and wait, and wait, and wait.  But we won’t get any younger.  Like so many others we won’t have the luxury of choosing when we can start our family.  Like women who are able to birth their own babies, I do not automatically get a baby handed to me after nine months.  I have to be deemed worthy which (in Japan) includes a scrutiny of my foreignness and how that affects my ability to rear a child.  While multiple MCs is the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced, I think adoption is the most difficult I’ve ever experienced (and this is coming from someone with advanced degrees who packed up her whole life and moved to a foreign country).  However, I will not give up.  I will try my best to remain hopeful, but I cannot promise that no future tears will be shed.  I will do everything in my power to have our children.  I will not give up on you, my future babies (from your mama-in-waiting).


5 thoughts on “Women and children first…

  1. Apart from the adoption stuff, Switzerland is quite similar to Japan. Most women stop working when they have kids, or only work part time (during school hours, of course). Maternity leave here is 16 weeks, which is why all day cares start from 3 months – if people are going to return to work, that’s the age they’ll need child care. Fathers get 1-2 days off when their child is born… provided their employer agrees. Of course, this is the country where women have only had the right to vote in federal elections since the ’70s and the final canton (state) allowed women to vote at canton level in 1990 – only because the federal court made them!


  2. All I can say is “oy vey” and a few choice profanities.

    Side story – I was having coffee with a new client yesterday and as the sharing began, found out that she had adopted…I was thinking, “ooh maybe she knows what this horrible wait is like and how it’s been to go through infertility”, and then, well…nope. They adopted because he didn’t want to get his vasectomy reversed, and ONE day after they finished their profile book they were matched with a birth mother, The End. I have been seeing too many “easy” adoption process stories (i.e., the “we were just about to go to an agency and bam! someone on Facebook knew a teen mum who was looking for a family to adopt the baby” or “we signed up with an agency last month and bam! now we have a kid”) – it’s reminding me of all the pregnancy announcements of IVFers that cause me to stop following blogs. Not that I want anyone to go through hell in trying to start a family, but dang the ones who seem to have babies handed to them on a silver platter, it’s hard stuff to digest at this point.


    1. I’ve heard those stories too and not to offend anyone but a lot of times they are associated with religious folks. Nothing beats church connections right? 🙄


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