When concerned foreigners began contacting Japanese agencies about adopting children orphaned by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, they were told, "No, thank you. We can take care of our own." Though Japanese families occasionally adopt males to continue the family line, adoption is relatively rare here. Relative wealth, good social services and a shrinking population generally keep the numbers of orphans low.Regardless, I think it is too soon to be talking international adoption. In the immediate aftermath of such epic loss, the last thing children need is to lose everything familiar to them.
In the aftermath of the disaster, however, there are growing concerns that the country is not, in fact, caring for its own. About 200 children lost both parents and an additional 1,200 lost one parent to the earthquake or tsunami. Most of the orphans are now living with relatives, however, with unemployment at 90% in some areas orphanages may become the only option. It is very difficult, however, to get kids out of these welfare institutions and into permanent homes.
And what this article describes is not an inability to handle 200 quake orphans, but a different understanding in Japan about institutional care for children. They describe poor parents putting children in orphanages, but still considering them their children, part of their bloodline, expected to care for them in their old age. These children are not "orphans," since they have living parents who have some intention to parent them at some point.
Yes, I think families are better for kids than institutions, and that's generally the attitude of the Western world. But we see a different attitude in many parts of the world, where orphanages are a temporary solution to poverty, a place for children to be fed and educated when the parents can't afford to do so; these children are not orphans, and adoption isn't the solution to their plight. The problem is that often Westerners feel that we can adopt children in orphanages, regardless of whether they are orphans or not.