Choosing Japan and the Process
There are an estimated 147 million orphans in the world. Most people see the need of the people living in China and India because of the gendercide against girls. Or in African countries that suffer from war, civil unrest, and famine. But most do not think of Japan as a country where there is a need for international adoption. So some may be wondering why we chose Japan. The simple answer goes back to my last post...we feel drawn there, because that is where our child is. The longer more detailed answer is that there is a need in Japan, even if it doesn't seem so.
Japan is a stunningly beautiful country. It is rich in culture and history, and the Japanese people are helpful, thoughtful, smart, and kind. Unfortunately, the historical practices of Japan are still very much in tact. In a sense, culturally, they have not left the times of the early 1900s.
Blood relations and the purity of women are still thought to be extremely important in the Japanese culture. Many Japanese people just do not understand why anyone would want to adopt a child who is not a relative; therefore, a staggering number of children spend their entire childhood in an orphanage or institution. Japan has an extremely low number of foster homes and people willing to adopt domestically. Thousands of kids never know what it is like to have a family. At the age of 18 they are allowed to leave the institution, but there is nobody there to guide them through life. Many never go to college, and very few hold a steady job.
Then there is the stigma that surrounds a woman who has a child out of wedlock in Japan. She is thought to have brought shame to her entire family. Because of this, many women and girls have abortions or move away until they have the baby, which is then left at an orphanage. It's not that they don't love their babies; it's actually the complete opposite, but they have very few other options. These women may never have the support of their families, and will never have a future, so the mindset is that the baby will have a better life in the safe environment of an orphanage. In Japan, once a woman has a baby, it becomes difficult for a woman to find a husband because they are now considered shameful or ruined.
There are organizations present in Japan that are trying to change these decades old practices and beliefs, but like everything, change takes time. One such organization is called Baby Life. They provide counseling for expectant mothers who do not want to have an abortion. Baby Life provides housing for the expectant mothers, health care for the mother and the baby, and then helps the mother make a plan for her baby. The first priority is to help the mother keep her baby, the next option is to help find a relative or other family in Japan willing to adopt the baby, and the final option is international adoption. This is to help keep children out of orphanages, so they have the best chance at a happy, successful life.
Baby Life works with Faith International Adoption Agency, which is our agency here in America. If they have a mother who wants her child adopted here in America, Faith International has a list of waiting families. The birth mother actually has the opportunity to meet the adoptive family and learn more about them. This is such a unique and amazing opportunity for both the birth mother and the adoptive parents.
The Japan program is very unique. Once we get a referral (which should be in the next twelve months), we travel within two to three weeks. Our baby will most likely be between four to eight weeks old at the time we bring him or her home. As the adoptive parents, we have the privilege of meeting the birth mother while in Japan and getting to know the background of the birth parents, including medical history and just basic likes and dislikes of the birth mother and her family. We will be in Japan for approximately one week and the adoption is finalized here in Ohio approximately six months after returning home.
There are many other details I could share about Japan and the reasons why international adoption is needed, but it's not my story to tell. We are just one piece of the puzzle. I stand by the belief that Japan is an amazing country filled with amazing people. There culture is what makes their country so beautiful and ironically, also what makes international adoption necessary. My hope is that in the coming years, the need for international adoption will diminish and that more children in Japan will stay with their biological families, but until that day comes, many people will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. There will soon be one less orphan in Japan.