There is a lot of legwork involved in adoption before the real fun of raising a child begins. The agency we have chosen to work with – Across the World Adoptions (ATWA) – facilitates private adoptions from Japan exclusively for infants (ages 4-7 weeks old). They also guarantee that within 12-18 months of completing our dossier (which for us was November 27, 2009) we will meet our baby in Japan.
Japan is rather new in the international adoption arena, having only opened their doors in 2007 to allow foreigners to adopt children. Their international adoption policy is much like private adoptions in the United States.
In a private adoption, the agency counsels women with unwanted pregnancies who have been referred by Japanese pregnancy hotline workers or abortion doctors. These “birth-mothers” then choose who they want to parent the baby based on picture books and “birth-mother letters” prepared by prospective adoptive parents (like ourselves).
Interestingly, we are not immediately notified once we have been chosen by a birth-mother. ATWA’s policy is to wait to notify the chosen adoptive parents until the birth-mother has relinquished physical custody to us specifically, sometime before the baby is four days old. Thus allowing the birth mother time to be certain about her decision, and avoiding major disappointment to adoptive parents. Once the birth-mother relinquishes her parental rights, we will then get a referral – also known as “the phone call from Japan” – from ATWA telling us that our baby is born and that we need to prepare to arrive in Japan within one month to meet our baby. (This is also the time we will find our whether we are the proud parents of a baby boy or baby girl!)