By Diane Macedo
Published March 22, 2011
March 21, 2011: Children play with balloons at a shelter in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami-destroyed town of Minamisanriku, northern Japan.
Foreigners looking to adopt a Japanese child orphaned by the recent earthquake may be surprised to know their help, in that respect, is not wanted at the moment.
“I have been receiving many strange emails, from mostly U.S., and was asked, ‘I want girl, less than 6 months old, healthy child,’ Tazuru Ogaway, director of the Japanese adoption agency Across Japan, told FoxNews.com. “I honestly tell you such a kind of emails makes Japanese people very uncomfortable, because for us, sound like someone who are looking for ‘what I want’ from our terrible disaster.”
In the wake of the massive January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, countries around the world almost immediately began fast-tracking adoptions from the troubled country. The United States alone took in 1,090 Haitian children as part of a Special Humanitarian Parole granted immediately following the disaster, according to the State Department’s 2010 Annual Report in Intercountry Adoptions.
But Martha Osborne, spokeswoman for the adoption advocacy website RainbowKids.com, said Japan and Haiti couldn’t be more different when it comes to adoption.
“You see that in developing nations, there’s no outlet for these children and the people left in the wake of the disaster are completely impoverished and unable to care for them, and in that case even extended relatives often say that the best case for the child is to be adopted because there are no resources,” Osborne told FoxNews.com. “But in Japan that’s just not the case, it’s a fully developed nation that’s capable of caring for its own children.”
Osborne said a dwindling population, as well as strong family ties in the country, makes adoption fairly unnecessary, because children who can’t be cared for by their parents are usually taken in by other relatives.
“I don’t believe there’s going to be a true orphan situation in Japan in the wake of this disaster. I do not believe that there are going to be children without any ties to relatives…that extended family system is going to consider that child their child,” she said.
Tom Defilipo, president of Joint Council on International Children Services, said that stress on lineage also makes the Japanese society “very averse to adoptions.”
“Very few adoptions take place in Japan domestically and only about 30-34 last year internationally” despite having “about 400 children’s homes in the country and about 25,000 children approximately in those homes,” Defilipo told FoxNews.com. “Bloodlines are exceptionally important, so the whole idea of adopting or raising a child that’s not your own or isn’t part of your extended family is relatively unheard of.”
Still, Ogaway, Osborne, and Defilipo all agree that the children whose parents died in the earthquake will likely be absorbed into extended families. It is, they say, far too early for any of the children to be considered for adoption because Japanese authorities are still searching to find which children’s parents are just missing, which are confirmed dead and which of those children have other family to care for them.
“We can’t just place children without [verifying] she or he is a complete orphan,” Ogaway said.
Those looking to help Japan are instead directed to donate to organizations that are providing direct emergency relief there.
“We all want to help in whatever way we can,” Osborne said. “But Japan is very capable, unlike many undeveloped nations, of caring for its own.”