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DISCLAIMER: The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S. based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and licensing office of the Department of Health and Family Services in the state where the agency is located.

GENERAL: The following is a guide for U.S. citizens who are interested in adopting a child in Japan and applying for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. U.S. consular officers give each petition careful consideration on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the legal requirements of both countries are met, for the protection of the prospective adoptive parent(s), the biological parents(s) and the child. Interested U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to contact U.S. consular officials in Japan before formalizing an adoption agreement to ensure that they have followed appropriate procedures which will make it possible for the Embassy to issue the child a U.S. immigrant visa.

AVAILABILITY OF CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION: Both Japanese and foreign children are available for adoption in Japan. Most of the orphans adopted in Japan by foreigners are Japanese. Among the cases of foreign children adopted by foreigners in Japan, many of the children are related to the adoptive U.S. parents and may have lived with the adoptive parents in Japan for more than two years. Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics in Japan reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans:

FY-1996: IR-3 immigrant visas issued to Japanese orphans adopted abroad - 9
IR-4 immigrant visas issued to Japanese orphans adopted in the U.S. - 24
FY-1997: IR-3 Visas - 31, IR-4 Visas - 24
FY-1998: IR-3 Visas - 15, IR-4 Visas - 31
FY-1999: IR-3 Visas - 18, IR-4 Visas - 24
FY-2000: IR-3 Visas - 9, IR-4 Visas - 31

JAPAN ADOPTION AUTHORITIES: The Family Court and the Child Guidance Center (often located in the City or Ward Office) are the government office responsible for adoption in Japan. They have jurisdiction over the placement of children, home studies, and adoptions.


Credits: U.S. Department of State

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