Minister says he's working with B.C. families trapped in Japan with adopted kids
Canada's immigration minister says the government is working with several B.C. families who can't leave Japan because their own country won't issue visas for their newly adopted children.
Five couples flew overseas several weeks ago to pick up their kids from Japan only to learn the Canadian government was refusing the visas they need to bring the children home.
One of the adoptive parents, Ryan Hoag, said they met every requirement put forth by adoption agencies in Japan and Canada, as well as the B.C. and federal governments.
But even though Canada is refusing the visas, federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said it's the Japanese government's requirements that are 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."
B.C. has temporarily suspended adoptions from Japan after the East Asian country told the U.S. government last month that its courts must authorize all intercountry adoptions.
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."
Alex Stojicevic, an immigration lawyer representing the five B.C. families, said his clients were expecting to stay in Japan for a few weeks, but some have already been there for about two months now.
He said they have been unable to find anyone in the Japanese government who has taken issue with Canadian adoptions, and the families feel blindsided by the visa issue.
"In one family's case they actually had a visa issued on May 28 to allow their child to come to Canada and had it rescinded," Stojicevic said.
With files from Ben Miljure and Nick Wells