Adoption of children in Japan

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In most countries it is allowed to carry out the adoption process even for children from other foreigners.

In Japan in 2011 alone, 430 children were adopted. But, according to BBC News, Japanese government data show that there are roughly 39,000 children in foster care. 

Among developed countries, Japan has the lowest adoption rate. Let's better understand the reason, rules and history about the process.

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Adoção de crianças no japão
Adoção de crianças no japão

How did adoption come about in Japan?

The Japanese began to practice adoption in the Nara period (710-794). During this period, adoption was marked by social rules and concepts that consisted of a preference for male children.

This was because the reason for adopting was in order to benefit those who adopt to continue the services of the house and care for the family that can only be done by the male child. In the absence of blood children, adoption was chosen.

Another reason for parents to resort to adoptive children was when the legitimate child could not be more suitable for family succession.

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Adoção de crianças no japão
Adoção de crianças no japão

In the Nara period, adoption was also used as a mechanism for creating alliances. In other words, children could be adopted between families. However, it was in the Kamakura period (1185-1333) that family alliances began, in which it was common to adopt male children even though the family already had blood children.

During this period, even the father-in-law could adopt his sons-in-law in the absence of a child, he would have the family name of his wife. But the condition must be that the adoptee has one more sibling to continue the birth family line. 

In 1948 there were revisions to the civil code for the benefit of adoptees and not just for these purposes. But in Japan the adoption in most cases is done by own relatives

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Adoção de crianças no japão - image 14

The Japanese View on Adoption

Unlike other countries, in Japan this adoption process becomes even more complicated because the child's bond with the biological family is allowed. According to the law even if the child is removed from the care of the biological parents, they will still have custody of him and can decide his future.

That's why many children left in orphanages from babies end up kept in the institution until they turn eighteen years old.

Unfortunately adoption is not well accepted in Japan, as they are so closely linked to blood ties. Adopting can be seen as an act of shame. But when someone happens to adopt the family, they even move to another city to present the child as a son of blood.

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But it is not so simple to hide this information because of the Japanese family register called Koseki (戸籍). This record must contain all the family information, including the adoptee's data, which in addition to the adoptive family name must have the biological family names. 

Despite these challenging situations there are small changes being made in this regard. Fukuda Hospital located in Kumamoto is the first Japanese hospital with a Special Adoption Service. Children under the age of six can be put up for adoption at the hospital itself.

The special adoption service is legalized and approved by the Ministry of Health and the Medical Association of Japan. In order to participate, adoptive parents cannot offer money to the institution. Those interested in the adoption must hire a lawyer for the adoption process.

After being approved, the child will completely break the link with the biological family. It will have the surname of the adoptive parents and Koseki will show the child as a legitimate child, there is no need to register that he was adopted.

Adoção de crianças no japão

Can foreigners adopt Japanese children?

If the adoption is already complicated by the Japanese themselves, imagine with the outsiders! The adoption of children by foreigners is only allowed as a last resort because generally the priority is relatives. But it is possible to adopt as long as the foreigner resides in Japan.

As we have seen, the Japanese are very fond of the lineage and by adopting it, it is broken. But because it is a developed country, the Japanese government has no problem in ''taking care'' of these children financially.

One of the possibilities for those interested in adopting is to see the telephone and address list on the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare website (it's in Japanese). Or contact Fukuda Hospital.

For a foreigner to adopt is not impossible, but patience is required as it is a lengthy process. 

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Adoção de crianças no japão

Another possibility of simpler adoption because there is not so much bureaucracy is when the child goes to live with a family without being legally adopted. In 2008 there were only 3,611 children living in foster homes under this regime. This amount is small compared to the number of children living in orphanages.

 In the case of legal adoption, there are two types: regular and special. The most common is the regular one, which is when the child does not lose parental ties with his biological family.

And the special is aimed at children under the age of six and is the most suitable for international adoptions.

Adoção de crianças no japão

adult adoption

In Japan this is more common than you think! This is to preserve a generation in case of lack of heirs. The adoption of males by family business owners in order to take over the business is common.

World-renowned companies such as Toyota, Suzuki and Canon do this to make the business last for generations.

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