Naoki who was adopted at the age of 7.
Fifteen years ago, I sat in the office of my orphanage listening to the white haired director teach me how to speak the words “Hello. My name is Naoki. Nice to meet you”. I was getting ready to meet my new American parents. I had foster parents before. I had people that treated me as their son before. But this was different; a whole new life was ahead of me. My move to Tokyo in less than a month would mean leaving the only home I knew. My new family would give me opportunities, support and love to help me achieve whatever I wanted in my life.
As I waited for two strangers who were about to become my new parents, I felt nervousness build up. All I noticed was how the bench was cracked and chipped. I was in my fears. I had no idea what adoption meant.
“Hello… My name… is Naoki. Nice… to… meet… you…”
All of a sudden my new parents were smiling and hugging me. I was not accustomed to much affection.
I felt relieved as we walked back to the orphanage since the director distracted my parents. My part was finished, I thought. But, I secretly longed for more attention.
John, who was brought up in America
Reflecting on my childhood, the most difficult aspect was explaining my background to people I met. At first impressions, people assume I am second generation Asian American; however, when people hear or see my last name they assume my father is Caucasian and my mother is Asian. Or, when people read or saw my name and have not met me, they assume I am Caucasian. Also, when my family and I were out in public at the store or restaurant, other people would stare at us. When I introduced friends to either my parents or siblings, people would get a puzzled look on their face. I had to explain I was adopted as an infant.
Throughout my life, I may have not known the specific details of the situation my biological parents were in, but I understood they were not in a position to provide me a suitable life. I also understood it was a painful, difficult decision to trust a stranger of a different ethnicity to raise me as their own.
I am truly thankful to my biological mother for her strength and love to make the decision to allow me to be adopted. I am equally thankful and blessed to have been adopted by two loving people who raised me as their own son. I am fortunate to have been raised in a diverse, loving family. Because of them, I am the person I am today.
From Biological Mother
I called ISSJ last year to seek guidance on adoption of my child who was born with Down syndrome. Later, I got divorced and finally decided myself that I will raise my two children, including the one with Down syndrome while getting some help from my parents. Yu kun (pseudonym), the boy who was born with Down syndrome, is living in an institution and he comes home every weekend. Yu kun’s older brother needs medical attention on his eyes so I’m focused on that now. Later, Yu kun will live with us when things are more settled down. It is a slow but a development surely. I hid Yu kun from my friends and acquaintances but I included his picture on this year’s New Year’s card. I can surely say that I love both of my children.
I called ISSJ many times and the social workers always listened to me. I just did not know how to prepare myself with changes in my life and I was overwhelmed. It really helped me to talk to social workers at ISSJ. Thank you, ISSJ.
From Adoptive Parents
Kenta's(8 years old) adoptive mother
"When it comes to adopting an older child, or a child who has had difficult experiences in the past, you often read comments like “challenging but rewarding”. I think this is backwards! The most rewarding experiences I have had as a parent have not been in spite of the challenges or difficulties but rather because of them. I’d like to share an example of what I mean.
We had many difficult days when our eight-year-old son first joined our family. No matter what happened, every night when I was tucking him into bed I reassured him “you are a good boy, and tomorrow is a brandnew day.” Usually he ignored me, playing with a toy or hiding his head under the pillow or even shouting to drown out my voice. I never knew if he was listening, but I always repeated the same words.
After a few months I had one of those days where everything goes wrong, and I had a bad cold too. I was short-tempered and snappy. That night at bed time I said to my son “I’m sorry I wasn’t a good mummy today.” He replied “you are a good mummy, and tomorrow is a brand new day.” Although he pretended otherwise, he really had been listening to me all along. There are no words to convey how much it meant to me to hear him use those phrases to reassure me in return."