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30,000 children in Japan in institutions: adoption an opportunity to bless

Adoption at home

Our second child was adopted in Japan. Before getting married we had talked and prayed about adoption. We felt we had more love to give than for one child and that conceiving to become parents or adopting to become parents were equally special in God’s eyes. Embracing our precious, lively second son and seeing him grow in our family has continued to bring us immeasurable joy.

When a local friend came to visit just after we welcomed our baby, she had just learned she was pregnant with a third child. Three children is a large family in Japan. She thought she’d have to stop working, and another child seemed a significant trouble and financial burden. The previous week she’d been to a hospital to consult about abortion, but hadn’t fully decided what to do. When she held our one-month-old baby in her arms, her feelings settled. She knew it would be worth carrying her baby to birth. 

Now she has a beautiful little girl, she’s back at work, and is a very joyful mum. Later she shared, “Meeting your baby changed something in me. I had the strength to go through the pregnancy and am glad I did. When I was a student nurse, I used to volunteer at a children’s home. I used to think how good it would be to give a real home to them. I don’t know how I’d ever talk to my husband about such an idea, but we need families to adopt children in Japan.”

Adoption in Japan

The agency through which we met our son supports mothers in Japan in crisis and places babies in families for adoption in cooperation with local social services. “Special adoption” in Japan meant that we could eventually fully and legally become our child’s parents whereas “normal adoptions” leave some remaining rights with the birth mother. Japan only has about 500 special adoptions per year, and it must be completed before a child is six years old to be valid. It is very unusual for Japanese families to adopt or foster children. As bloodlines are culturally very important, sadly it is hard for the wider family, whose opinions matter, to think about accepting an adopted child.

Having experienced Japanese school for our older son, my heart aches when I think of the 30,000 or so children living in institutions in Japan, and those who come and go to school from there.^ I know how children here who are in any way different can be left out or talked about, and how important it is for a child to see his or her parent present at school events.

In April this year, the law changed, making it more difficult for non-Japanese families to adopt children in Japan. Another review of the law is under discussion, and it may become possible for Special Adoptions to be completed up to an older age, which is a good sign; but many more adoptive families are needed.

The Lord allowed our family to feel his heartbeat for the fatherless, the orphans, the struggling and marginalized single mothers. Through this, we’ve now got a new dimension in our prayers for Japan. Will you pray for Japan?

By Laura-Jane, an OMF missionary

^Estimates of how many children are in institutions vary. This article says around 30,000, others suggest the figure is closer to 40,000, for example, this one.

Updated 15 December, 2018.

Will you pray for Japan>

  • Pray that God’s kingdom will come for mums in crisis and children without families.
  • Pray the Lord will prepare Japanese young people, especially those who love him, to become adoptive parents, opening up the blessing of family and his love to children in need. 
  • Pray that churches will support Christians in adoption, and that this will be a witness and transforming influence on Japanese society as a whole for the glory of God.

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