Five British Columbia families received news on Saturday that their visas for their adopted children have been approved by the Canadian government.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said it was 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.
That led to delays for five B.C. families filed who already had their adoptions approved after filing the appropriate paperwork.
Alex Stojicevic, the Canadian immigration lawyer representing the five families who travelled to Japan to pick up their newly adopted children, said they followed a process that has been in place for at least a decade, which includes getting a letter from the provincial government saying it has no objections.
The U.S. Department of State on April 13 said that it was “reviewing Japanese law regarding the transfer of custody of child without a court order,” after Japan informed the United States that, under Japanese law, the courts must authorize intercountry adoptions. The Department of State recommended that adoption agencies not make new referrals to prospective adoptive parents in the United States.
In light of the change, the Canadian government sought a legal opinion to determine whether it would affect the process for Canadians seeking to adopt children from Japan. The B.C. government also temporarily suspended adoptions from Japan to seek clarity on the issue.
Alex Stojicevic, 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.
Stojicevic said the delay appeared to be prompted by a change in U.S. policy on adoptions from Japan, which led the Canadian government to seek clarification.
Despite granting these families visas, he said it appears Canada is still waiting on that opinion, which creates some uncertainty for other Canadian families planning Japanese adoptions.
“The program is still under a question mark … it still looks like they’re making inquiries as to what the Japanese government’s position is,” he said.
“There are other families involved in this process who are in the pipeline as it were and have children identified, who do really want to get on with this.”
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says it has stopped processing cases that were not close to completion and has asked the Japanese government to clarify its position on the adoptions.