5 B.C. families stranded in Japan get Canadian visas for adopted babies
Published Sunday, June 24, 2018 1:00PM EDT
After months stuck in legal limbo in Japan, five British Columbia families will be able to bring the Japan-born children they adopted back to Canada.
The families found themselves ensnared in an immigration nightmare after the Canadian government refused to issue visas to their newly adopted children, amid confusion over a directive from Japan to the United States on international adoptions.
The notice advised American officials that all intercountry adoptions of Japanese children would need to be approved by Japanese courts, and not adoption agencies.
It prompted the province of British Columbia to temporarily suspend adoptions from Japan until it could resolve what Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s immigration minister, said was “a disconnect between what the Japanese government requirements were, and what the organizations that were facilitating the adoptions were telling the families.”
The five families relentlessly lobbied Ottawa for the visas, and last Friday, the government suddenly approved the necessary paperwork.
“It was just sort of a post-traumatic event where you kind of sit there and feel numb for a few minutes,” Ryan Hoag, one of the adoptive fathers, told CTV Vancouver on Saturday, about the moment he learned of the good news.
He booked a flight on Saturday to bring his wife and new daughter home to Canada.
“I don’t think it will sink in really until I have them both in my arms,” Hoag said. “It’s been emotionally, physically and financially draining for all five families.”
Alex Stojicevic, an immigration lawyer representing the five families, told CTV News that there are still many unanswered questions about what exactly was responsible for the confusion.
“What was bizarre about it is that there is no indication to this day that there has ever been any Japanese concern with these adoptions,” he said.
On Saturday, Mathieu Genest, a spokesman for Hussen’s office, told CTV News that neither the provincial government of British Columbia nor the federal government was opposed to the adoptions in question. He added that the adoptions were handled “in a manner consistent with how adoptions have been finalized in the past in Japan, and consistent with our understanding of Japanese law.”
“The Government of Japan has not raised any objections to those practices, but we are aware there are questions around the process of adoption that have been raised with other countries, and these questions warrant clarification,” Genest said. “To that end, we have halted immigration processing on any cases that are not already near completion and have asked the Japanese government to clarify their expectations on the adoption process going forward.”
Hoag is relieved and looking forward to making up for lost time with his new daughter.
“I definitely missed the first Father’s Day,” he said. “But my goal was to make sure we could be a Canadian family in Canada for Canada Day.”
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Breanna Karstens-Smith