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Adoption in Japan

Japan With Kids - Forums: General Discussions: Adoption in Japan
By Marybeth Stock on Thursday, August 19, 1999 - 11:06 pm:

Are there any adoptive parents of Japanese children out there who have gone through the Japanese adoption system recently?

By Cornelia on Wednesday, March 15, 2000 - 3:30 pm:

The following is copied from the Association & Clubs Forum.

A group in Tokyo called Adoptive Families of Tokyo (AFT) includes about 50 member families from near and far (not just Tokyo)considering adoption or who have adopted domestically and internationally, while living in Japan.

Meetings are generally held once per month, at 7 p.m on the last Thursday at Saint Alban's church across from Tokyo Tower, but sometimes they are held elsewhere.

Those who live too far away communicate via email. Caren Hoffman-Smith produces a newsletter each month that is sent via email or fax, which trys to include items regarding getting homestudies in Japan, selecting agencies that will assist adoptive parents while living outside the US and so on. The topic of adopting Japanese children while living in Japan is also covered, and she has a list of contact information for agencies that can help if you are interested in a domestic adoption.

"Feel free to give me a call (03-3280-4338), or to ask any specific questions, and if I cannot help, maybe I can put you in touch with someone who can.
Caren Hoffman-Smith"

By Anna on Saturday, October 14, 2000 - 6:27 am:

I read these bits and pieces in the plane from various magazines earlier this year and thought it would be interesting information for parents who are trying to adopt. These are not my words and I did not think to write down my sources at the time:

Cindy and John McCain (presidential hopeful at the time) adopted Bridget from Bangladesh ten or so years ago. It took two years after bringing her from Bangladesh to finalize the adoption!

Each year Americans adopt about 127,000 children domestically and 11,000 internationally. Yet about 110,000 foster children in the US and millions of kids around the world are waiting for parents.

In the USA, an adoption through a public agency can cost under $1000 for lawyer fees, but this is a very slow way to go. Private agencies and adoption lawyers do the majority of the adoptions for fees ranging from $7000 to $20,000. International adoptions also involve additional costs in flights, hotel accommodation and other expenses.

More recently I heard about a case where a couple had adopted a very young boy from Brazil, but never completed his naturalization papers. Recently he got into a little bit of trouble as a teenager when caught with some marijuana for personal use. Because he was not an American on paper, the Immigration and Naturalization people deported him for breaking the law (aliens do not have the same rights as citizens). The Brazilian government was so shocked (this teenager speaks no Brazilian and has absolutely no ties to Brazil) that they refused entry, and the fellow remains in a detention cell somewhere in the USA. The article did not say what the final outcome was or will be. This reminds us to make sure that our internationally adopted children are properly naturalized. If anyone read about this and has the clipping or the internet link, I'd love to see it here.

By A.K. on Friday, May 11, 2001 - 5:57 pm:

Are you a U.S.A. citizen?

This US State Department site covers important aspects of intercountry adoption as applies to US citizens including those living abroad:

There are also country specific adoption flyers which contain among other things some adoption statistics (orphan visas issued by the INS) for about 85 countries.
is a summary of what a US citizen can (and should?) do prior to adopting an orphan and the legal definition of orphan.

By Admin on Tuesday, March 19, 2002 - 10:08 am:

Here is a site worth checking out:

By Natasha on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 10:23 am:

I've been getting all sorts of conflicting information on how to go about setting up adoption within Japan. Some people say that I must go through the social welfare section of the government and some people are telling me that it is better to build a relationship with an orphanage (such as doing some sort of regular activity with the children, like teaching an English lesson or setting up games and parties every couple of months). Does anyone have any input on this. It also seems that not all orphanages are directly under the auspices of the government?

List of six orphanages in and around Tokyo ・
Aijino Ie, Seibi Home, Shisei Gakuen, Red Cross Children's Home, Futaba Gakuen and Tokyo Sarageo Gakuen.

By Renko Yamazaki on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 4:24 pm:

Yes. Not all orphanages are under the auspices of the govt. I think you should contact the social welfare of your ward or Tokyo-to office. Because strangers/volunteers are not welcomed by some orphanages.

By Cornelia on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 4:25 pm:

If it's any help, here is a list of adoption agencies in Japan that was sent to me by the US Embassy.

Agency to Rescue Children
Diapalace #206, 1-4-8, Minami Kashiwa, Kashiwa-shi, Chiba-ken 277-0855
Tel: 0471 45 6580
(Mrs Utako KIKUCHI)

The Association for International Adoption of Babies
2-19-18 Fukumen Ohno-cho, Saiki-gun, Hiroshima-ken 739-0401
Tel: 082 956 2665
(Ms. Kiyoko KAGEYAMA ・President)

Crown Child Placement International
2-19-9 Hikawadai, Higashikurume-shi, Tokyo 203-0004
Tel: 0424 77 6746, Fax: 0424 765 3545
(Ms. Josina BOSWELL - Adoption Counselor)

Japan International Social Services
Nishimura Building Room 601, 3-6-18 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0051
Tel: 03 3760 3471, Fax: 03 3760 3474
(Ms Yaeko OTSUKI ・General Director)

The list also includes:

Ai No Kesshin
10-15 Hinode-chi, Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka-ken 420-0837
Tel: 054 250 0217
(Ms Sarah GORDON --
but email seems to go un-answered and the website disappeared. Also they preferred to place within Japanese Christian families.

There seems to be some doubling up on: HOME STUDIES AGENCIES
This list is also provided by the US Embassy.

Crown Child Placement International
2-19-9 Hikawadai, Higashikurume-shi, Tokyo 203-0004
Tel. 0424 77 6746, Fax 0424 765 3545
(Ms. Josina BOSWELL - Adoption Counselor)

Dr Tadashi ISHIMARU - US ARMY Retired
2-3-5 Yoko-dai, Sagamihara-shi, Kanagawa-ken 229-0026
Tel. 042 733 6583, Fax 042 733 6583
e-mail address:

Japan International Social Services
Nishimura Building Room 601, 3-6-18 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0051
Tel. 03 3760 3471, Fax 03 3760 3474
(Ms Yaeko OTSUKI ・General Director)

By Sandy Cox on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 11:16 am:

Gov't-subsidized homes full of abused children

Sawako Obara

Monday, April 14, 2003
TOKYO ・Despite Japan's declining birthrate, privately run but government-subsidized homes for children who cannot live with their parents for various reasons are almost full, chiefly because of an increase in the number of mistreated children entering them.

Making matters worse is that employees are deserting such facilities in great numbers because of the heavy burdens placed on them with the sharp increases in children who are hard to take care of, welfare sources said.

"Facilities everywhere are full, and we will have to find those in other prefectures which can accept children," said an administrator in the Kanto area, which has Tokyo as its center.

There are some 550 juvenile nursing facilities across the country, housing about 33,000 children. Most of them are run privately but government-subsidized and the number of publicly run homes is small.

About 10 years ago, there were many children's homes with an occupancy rate of 80%, but according to a survey by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the rate topped 90% on average as of the end of March 2002.

Another ministry survey as of October 2001 showed the rate was 100% in the Hokkaido capital, Sapporo, 99% in Fukuoka in Kyushu, 96% in Sendai, northeastern Japan, 94% in Tokyo, and 92% in Nagoya, central Japan, and Kyoto, western Japan. The survey indicates that children's homes in big cities are the most hard-pressed.

The National Council of Homes for Children said the high occupancy rate was due to more children entering facilities after being abused by their relatives, and such children accounted for 53% of newcomers in fiscal 2001.

"In the last five years, the number of children entering the facilities with emotional wounds inflicted by abuse has risen sharply," said Kazuo Fukushima, head of a juvenile nursing home and president of the council.

"These children usually tend to reproduce abuse they suffered with acts of violence against employees and friends," Fukushima said.

What should not be overlooked is changes in the consciousness of parents, he said.

"Some abusive parents make inquiries about whether their children can be accepted by the institutions," and there are even parents who talk about the abandonment of parental authority, Fukushima said.

"The facilities are becoming like a dump for unwanted children," he said.

Meanwhile, the burden on facility employees is becoming unbearable, he said. Despite the sharp rise in the number of children hard to take care of, the state's standard for staffing levels has remained unchanged in the past 20 years ・one employee per six children.

There are not a few employees who quit facilities with their nerves frayed as they cannot cope with the strain of paying attention to the children's mental care, Fukukshima said.

In addition, cutbacks in welfare spending are causing many buildings at such institutions to become dilapidated, and there is a severe shortage of air conditioners, for example.

No preferential treatment is given to the construction of children's homes. "Even if we call on social welfare associations to build new homes, they are quite reluctant to do so," the administrator said. (Kyodo News)

By Giraldo Cardona on Sunday, July 23, 2006 - 8:43 pm:

we are trying to adopt a child in japan. (neither of us is japanese and we don't have any kids).
i read in a web site of yahoo groups that there are some gynecologist that put in contact the birth mother with the possible adoptive parents.
does any one could help us with this information?
Also i read about other couple who with the help of a missionare in tokyo found their child.
I have been trying to contact the persons that post this info, but for some reason i cant reach them.
The adoption is a hard process and we need some help
thanks for any help

By Sandy Cox on Sunday, April 8, 2007 - 6:55 pm:

The Japan Times
Friday, April 6, 2007
City gives hospital 'baby hatch' OK

KUMAMOTO (Kyodo) Kumamoto Mayor Seishi Koyama announced Thursday that the city will allow a local hospital to set up Japan's first "baby hatch," a receptacle that allows infants whose parents cannot care for them to be dropped off anonymously.

Jikei Hospital has said it plans to begin installing the hatch once it receives city permission and to have it working by year's end to save babies who would otherwise be abandoned or left to die.

Baby hatches are common in Europe, most notably Germany, where they are called "babyklappe" (baby hatches) or "babyfenster" (baby windows). However, the hospital's plan stirred up controversy and opposition from people who argued it might encourage parents to abandon their babies.

The hospital asked the Kumamoto public health center for permission to install the baby hatch, part of its reform plan, in December.

City officials said the legal aspects of the baby hatch, including Article 218 of the Penal Code, which imposes penalties on those who neglect to perform their duties to protect the elderly, infants, and disabled or sick people, had been studied.

The city also consulted the central government, but no legal obstacles were found, they said.

Jikei Hospital said the baby hatch, to be called the "konotori no yurikago" (stork cradle), will take the form of a box that is accessible from outside via a window. The box will be equipped with the same interior conditions as an incubator.

By Kurz on Friday, October 28, 2011 - 11:06 am:

I've been going through the adoption process to adopt a Japanese child with the help of:

Japan International Social Services
Nishimura Building Room 601, 3-6-18 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0051
Tel. 03 3760 3471, Fax 03 3760 3474
They have a sliding fee depending on income, so it is possible to complete an adoption even if you are not making a lot of money. It is hard to find a newborn, but if you are willing to take an older child, then you may not wait as long. They have social workers who speak English well, which is a BIG bonus.

Their process is essentially based on the system used in the USA. That means that there are many meetings, document gathering, home visit, coordination with Japanese systems (both the Family Court system and the institutions where the children are cared for), adjustment period, follow-up visits and assessments, and so on. Shockingly there is even a point when the child might be removed from my care, and the adoption deemed unsuccessful. I don't dwell on that, and am just hoping for the best.

This all takes time! They do not go on to Step 2 until after Step 1 is completed. You can't do the steps simultaneously. If you think you are interested in adoption, you might go ahead and get notarized copies of any deeds (to assets) while on vacation back in your home country, for example, so you don't have to try to get it done later by mail from a distance. The US Embassy notarizes documents for $50 USD EACH. If you can do this in the USA, you can generally get notarizations free at a bank where you keep your money, much faster than going to the Embassy in Japan (which is by appointment system).

The good thing is that I feel like I'm in very good hands at ISSJ. They are really looking out for the kids, and ask a lot of questions that will help them match a child to a family. They do not match children to families in the order that the families completed the preliminary process because of course each family specifies what sort of child they are willing to adopt.

They also understand the requirements of the US Immigration laws. They prepare for the successful conclusion of the adoption based on the nationality of the adopting parents.

If you can adopt directly from a pregnant woman or new mother in Japan (which is not easy to find), then you might be able to avoid some of the process used by an agency like ISSJ, however, you will still have to learn and complete the requirements of your home country. The obvious obstacle is language. My Japanese is horrible, and I depend on ISSJ to take care of communication issues for me.

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