June 20, 2018 6:33 pm
Updated: June 21, 2018 2:26 pm

Canadians adopting in Japan needlessly living in legal limbo, lawyer letters say

Pressure is growing on the federal government to do something about the bureaucratic mess around five B.C. families that adopted babies from Japan. Tanya Beja reports.

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A B.C. man who said he had to return home from Japan without his wife and newly adopted daughter is frustrated and confused by government red tape that’s forced his family into a nightmare situation, despite his lawyer’s efforts to prove there’s no reason for the delay.

Ryan Hoag said he doesn’t understand why the Canadian government won’t issue their daughter a visa to come to Canada, even though they have approval from the B.C. government to adopt in Japan.

READ MORE: 5 families can’t bring adopted children from Japan home to B.C. due to red tape

Adding to the frustration, Hoag said there has been no response from the Canadian government after letters were sent to the feds explaining why Canadians adopting in Japan are being avoidably held in limbo.

Hoag said he had to return to his Coquitlam home two weeks ago for work and family obligations, but six weeks in, his wife Wiyani is still in Tokyo, living in a hotel with their infant child since they picked up their baby up in Tokyo last month.

Hoag said 200 Canadians adopted from Japan under the exact same process before the Canadian government recently suspended adoptions from the country.

The problem seems to be confusion over the American government recently being informed that under Japanese law, Japan’s courts have to authorize inter-country adoptions.

WATCH: B.C. families caught up in adoption red tape in Japan


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Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said it’s seeking clarity on whether the change affects Canadians as well, although this wasn’t previously part of the process for Canadian families adopting children in Japan.

Hoag told Global News that the lawyer representing his family and four others from B.C. has sent the Canadian government legal opinions and letters from Japanese authorities confirming that Canadians shouldn’t be affected as U.S. residents are.

Hoag said that on June 6, a number of documents were sent to IRCC highlighting that there’s no evidence of Japanese requirements to complete special adoptions in Japan for all inter country placements.

The submissions included two Japanese legal opinions.

READ MORE: Birth mom records emotional video for newborn son to explain giving him up for adoption

One of them comes from the former chief justice of Japan’s family courts, and it confirms “that a court order is not required to transfer the custody and care of a child under the laws of Japan,” Hoag told Global News.

He said the letter confirms that the Japanese legal process involves a signed adoption consent form from a Japanese birth parent and the transfer of care and custody for the purposes of adoption in Canada.

Another letter from the chief director of Baby Life, an authorized adoption agency in Japan, confirmed the same guidelines for adoption, adding that Japanese laws that the agency follows have not changed.

Hoag said his lawyer has provided the IRCC with specific contacts within Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, multiple legal opinions and clarity on the notice that was posted to the U.S. website on May 15, 2018.

“It’s like a fishing expedition… and there’s so much information we’ve provided,” Hoag said.

There’s growing pressure on the federal government to untangle the bureaucratic mess that’s left families on hold.

Global News reached out to IRCC for comment on Tuesday but did not hear back by the provided deadline.

Letter from Japanese Lawyer by Neetu Garcha on Scribd

Legal opinion letter by Neetu Garcha on Scribd

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