B.C. families stranded in Japan receive visas to return to Canada
Published Saturday, June 23, 2018 12:01PM PDT
Last Updated Saturday, June 23, 2018 6:48PM PDT
Ryan Hoag is heading to Tokyo.
After weeks in immigration limbo, the adoptive father-to-be finally got good news Friday night: The Canadian government had approved a visa for his new daughter, as well as the Japan-born adoptive children of four other B.C. couples.
So, Hoag booked a flight for Sunday to join his wife and child in Japan and bring them home.
“I don’t think it will sink in really until I have them both in my arms,” Hoag told CTV News on Saturday. “It’s been emotionally, physically, and financially draining for all five families.”
The families were left stranded in Japan because the Canadian government wouldn’t issue visas to their newly adopted children.
Even though it was Canada that was refusing the visas, federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said last week that it was the Japanese government's requirements that were holding up the process.
"There's a disconnect between what the Japanese government requirements were and what the organizations that were facilitating the adoptions were telling the families," Hussen said. "We've been working with the families to make sure that they comply with the Japanese law."
A notice on the U.S. Consular Affairs website cautions families that "a Japanese court must find that the prospective adoptive parent (s) have met several requirements, including completion of a minimum six month period of trial nurturing."
The notice from the Japanese government to the United States prompted the province of British Columbia - which has primary responsibility for the adoption process in these cases - to temporarily suspend adoptions from Japan.
On Saturday, Mathieu Genest, a spokesman for Hussen’s office, told CTV News that B.C. had confirmed it had no objections to the adoptions in question, and that the adoptions had been handled “in a manner consistent with how adoptions have been finalized in the past in Japan, and consistent with our understanding of Japanese law.”
“The Government of Japan has not raised any objections to those practices, but we are aware there are questions around the process of adoption that have been raised with other countries, and these questions warrant clarification,” Genest said. “To that end, we have halted immigration processing on any cases that are not already near completion and have asked the Japanese government to clarify their expectations on the adoption process going forward.”
Alex Stojicevic, an immigration lawyer representing the five families, told CTV News they could begin arriving back in B.C. with their adopted children as soon as Monday.
“I cannot begin to describe to you the elation on the other end,” Stojicevic said of his communication with the families since they learned the visas had been issued.
Both Stojicevic and Hoag say questions remain about what caused the hold-up.
“What was bizarre about it is that there’s no indication to this day that there’s ever been any Japanese concern with these adoptions,” Stojicevic said. “No one in Japan has raised any issues.”
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Breanna Karstens-Smith