Canada asks Japan to clarify adoption stand, grants visas to stranded families

VANCOUVER — The Canadian government says it is processing visas for families who were near the end of the adoption process in Japan after five of them were stranded for weeks in a bureaucratic impasse.

But Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says it has stopped processing cases that were not close to completion and has asked the Japanese government to clarify its position on the adoptions.

Ryan Hoag of Coquitlam, B.C., says he received a notice from the Canadian embassy in Manila on Friday night confirming that his daughter’s permanent residency had been approved after he and his wife arrived in Japan in early May to meet the girl.

Lawyer Alex Stojicevic, who represents the five families who travelled to Japan to pick up their newly adopted babies, said they followed a process that has been in place for at least a decade, which includes getting a letter from the provincial government saying it has no objections.

The federal department says the adoptions have followed the process previously used and are consistent with Japanese law.

While the adoptions in Japan have not produced any objections, the department says it is aware of questions being raised with other countries that need to be clarified.

“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,” it says in the statement.

“Canadian officials have been in regular contact with their Japanese counterparts, and will continue to keep them informed of these developments. We are continuing to seek clarification for future possible adoptions as this would allow us to ensure that an acceptable approach is put in place.”

Stojicevic said the delay appeared to be prompted by a change in U.S. policy on adoptions from Japan, which led the Canadian government to seek clarification.

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