Japan is a country I love very much, having spent a great deal of time there throughout the 1980s–going so far as to get a PhD in Japanese literature! It is my long-held plan to travel there to study the orphan problem–the tens of thousands of social orphans who grow up in orphanages, disregarded by most of the rest of the world. I had hoped to do this in the near future–I will continue to hope for the chance to go fairly soon, and will pray that the Japanese people overcome this latest set of disasters. One cannot help but admire their patience in the face of adversity.
It seems that in Japan, child abuse and family breakdown are contributing to a rise in the population of social orphans. As with other parts of the world, but more surprisingly given the great wealth of Japan, we know little of a systematic nature about the numbers, the life conditions or the outcomes. It is well documented that there are few foster homes, and very few domestic adoptions. The latest national crisis makes me all the more determined to go and study this vexing phenomenon.
But in the meantime, Nihon no katatachi yo–gambatte!!
There is little good news in intercountry adoption these days…..the latest, as you know, is that Ethiopia is talking about cutting down its international adoption numbers by 90%! The absurdity of choosing such a number should be apparent, but this is the world in which cutting adoption down is generally considered to be a sign of enhanced “children’s rights”. Years ago, I called for the development of a specialized body to deal with all these questions, respond to charges of bad practice and to investigate the orphan crises of the world. In reality, nothing has happened….I do see that China has decided to open its special needs program to single women–one very positive and progressive development.
But it is the time of year when I teach my children’s rights class about the worldwide cohort of “children without families”–and each time, I am aghast at the deep and persistent neglect of this problem. It does not seem to interest “human rights lawyers” very much at all….How many children? Which institutions? How much neglect? Gendercide? Where is the “international law” that might protect them? And there is in fact only one form of protection, as human beings are slow growing, demanding and needy creature–a family.