Japan Intercountry Adoption Information (2023)

Japan’s Adoption Authority

Japan's principal adoption authorities are theFamily Courtsand theChild Guidance Centers (CGC),both of which are administered at the prefectural level.

The Process

The process for adopting a child from Japan generally includes the following steps:

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-600A)

3. Apply to Japan’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child

4. Adopt the Child in Japan

5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan

(Form I-600)

(Video) How do Japanese think about adoption culture, custody, and foster parents in Japan?

6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

Before taking steps to adopt a child from Japan, you should select a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider to be the primary provider in your case. As of July 14, 2014, a primary provider is required in every intercountry adoption case under the UAA, unless an exception applies. The primary provider is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided;
  • Supervising and being responsible for supervised providers where used (see 22 CFR 96.14); and
  • Developing and implementing a service plan in accordance with 22 CFR 96.44.

For more information on primary providers and the UAA, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012.

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt

In order to adopt a child from Japan, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Japan and U.S. immigration law.

To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also choose to file a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, with USCIS to be found suitable and eligible to adopt before you identify a child to adopt. You may also choose to file the Form I-600 petition along with all the required Form I-600A application supporting documentation, including an approved home study, once you have been matched with a child and have obtained all the necessary documentation. Please see the USCIS website for more information about filing options. Regardless of which approach you take, the home study must meet the same requirements. As of July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, the home study must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311 and 22 CFR Part 96.47.

3. Apply to Japan’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child

If you are found suitable and eligible to adopt under U.S. law, you must also submit an adoption application to the adoption authority of Japan to be found eligible to adopt by Japan.

If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the Japanese adoption service provider or the Child Guidance Center that has custody of the child arranges for child/prospective adoptive parent matches. In some cases the biological parent is asked to provide input concerning who will adopt the child. We encourage families to consult with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but each family must decide for itself whether it will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for, a specific child, and must conform to the recommendations in the home study for the number of children and capacity to deal with any special needs of an adoptive child. Learn more about Health Considerations.

(Video) International Adoption: Do You Get To Choose Who You Adopt?

The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Japan’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law.

4. Adopt the Child in Japan.

The process for finalizing the adoptionin Japan generally includes the following:

  • Role of the Court: Final Adoption (Special Adoption):

    For those who are finalizing the adoption in Japan, the Family Court reviews the adoption application. Please note that you may never actually appear in court in front of a judge; the paperwork may be done at the clerk's office. In reviewing the application, the Court examines the law governing intercountry adoptions in the prospective adoptive parents' U.S. state of legal domicile. The Court informs the prospective adoptive parents of their court hearing date. This first hearing date generally occurs at the end of the trial six-month period, during which time a court representative conducts an interview with the prospective adoptive parents and conducts at least one home visit. Approximately two to three weeks after the final hearing, the judge will decide whether or not to approve the adoption. If the judge approves the petition, the Court issues a certificate allowing "Permission to adopt" (yoshi no kyoka). If the biological parents or any interested parties do not object within two weeks of the parents' registering the adoption at the ward office or two weeks after the date provided on the final decree, it is considered final.

  • Role of Adoption Agencies: When finalizing the adoption in Japan, the adoption agency can match the prospective adoptive parents with a child, provide all of the necessary forms and instructions on how to complete the adoption process in Japan, and help collect the documents necessary for the U.S. immigrant visa, including the birth certificate and adoption decree.

Starting July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, there must be a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider acting as the primary provider in every case. Also, any agency or person providing an adoption service on behalf of prospective adoptive parents in any Convention or non-Convention case must be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service means any one of the following six services:

  • Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption;
  • Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption;
  • Performing a background study on a child or a home study on a prospective adoptive parent(s), and reporting on such a study;
  • Making non-judicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for the child;
  • Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption; or
  • When necessary because of a disruption before final adoption, assuming custody and providing (including facilitating the provision of) child care or any other social service pending an alternative placement. 22 CFR 96.2 Definitions.
  • Adoption Application: When finalizing an adoption in Japan, the prospective adoptive parents submit their adoption application to the Family Court with jurisdiction over the child's residence.
  • Time Frame: Intercountry adoptions through the Family Court require at least six months and sometimes longer, possibly up to 18 months. The Japanese court system will take into account the laws of your state of residence and will try to comply with those laws. In practice, this may mean that finalization of the adoption takes several months longer than it otherwise would. The Family Court does not mandate a time limit on when an adoption must be completed.
  • Adoption Fees: For those who are resident in Japan and adopting a child through the Japanese court system, the costs vary widely; however, the average total cost is approximately US$20,000. This includes fees for the Family Court, adoption agency, immigration processing, and document translations and authentications.

    It should be noted that Japanese adoption service provider fees can range from US$5,000 to US$50,000 or higher, so the overall cost of adoption depends on the agency the prospective adoptive parents select. Japanese law prohibits adoption service providers operating in Japan from profiting from adoptions, and the provider is required to give you an itemized invoice. That list may include fees to cover the birth of the child, as such costs are not covered by Japanese health insurance. Prospective adoptive parents may incur additional fees when adopting a child with medical conditions.

    Adoption service providers in Japan are prohibited from receiving donations before the completion of the adoption process, and a donation may not be a condition for providing services. Providers that violate these regulations should be reported to the prefectural government and may be suspended or closed by that government.

  • Prospective adoptive parents are advised to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either by themselves directly or through their U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to U.S. law, or the law of Japan, with your adoption service provider. Please also refer to information concerning the Hague Complaint Registry. Improper payments may have the appearance of buying achild, violate applicable law, and could put all future adoptions in Japan at risk. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to bribe foreign government officials to obtain or retain business. Further, the UAA and IAA make it unlawful to improperly influence relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing Central Authority functions.
  • Documents Required: When completing a full and final adoption under Japanese law, the Japanese adoption agency should provide you with a complete list of required documents. These may include:
    • Birth certificate and/or family register of all parties
    • Passport, Japanese visas and Alien Registration cards for all parties
    • Copy of U.S. military ID (where applicable)
    • Marriage, divorce, and death certificates (where applicable)
    • Copy of any property ownership deeds and/or bank statements
    • Certificate of foster parent registration (where applicable)
    • Certificate of good conduct/no criminal record for each adoptive parent (issued by their home city or state police department)
    • Certificate of legal address, employment, and income
    • Biographic history of all parties
    • Statement of consent to adopt by the child's biological parent(s) or guardian
    • Statement of prospective parent(s)' intent to adopt the identified child
    • Home Study (approved by an authorized and licensed adoption agency)
    • Two character references

Note: Additional documents may be requested.

  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. The U.S Department of State’s Authentications Office has information on the subject.

5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States as anOrphan

After you finalize the adoption in Japan, USCIS must determine whether the child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law in order for the child to immigrate to the United States. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. At the time you file your Form I-600 petition, the adjudicating officer will determine whether the UAA applies or if your case is UAA grandfathered. For more information on UAA grandfathering and transition cases, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012. Unless an exception applies, you must identify a primary provider in your case and the adjudicating officer may ask for the name and contact information of the primary provider if not provided in your Form I-600 petition. This information is required and, without it, your Form I-600 petition cannot be approved.

(Video) Our son's inter-country adoption from Japan - and what he lost in the process

If you have an approved, valid Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, you may file your Form I-600 petition either in the United States with USCIS or in person at the U.S.Embassy in Tokyo.

When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by USCIS in the United States, the consular section in Tokyo must complete a Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption (sometimes informally referred to as an orphan determination), to verify the child’s orphan status. When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by an international USCIS office, USCIS generally completes the Form I-604 determination.

For Form I-600 petitions filed with the Embassy’s consular section, the consular officer must complete the Form I-604 determination after you file your Form I-600 petition. Conducting the Form I-604 determination is a critical part of the orphan adoption process. It can take months to complete, depending upon the circumstances of your case. Consular officers appreciate that families are eager to bring their child home as quickly as possible. Some of the factors that may contribute to the length of the process include prevailing fraud patterns in the country of origin, civil unrest or security concerns that restrict travel to certain areas of the country, and the number of determinations performed by available staff. Consular officers make every effort to conduct them as quickly and thoroughly as possible. You are advised to keep your travel plans flexible while awaiting the results.

6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete, and the Form I-604 determination has been completed finding that your child meets the legal definition of an orphan for immigration purposes, there are a few more steps to take before you and your child can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

Birth Certificate

Once you have finalized the adoption in Japan, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

You willfirstneed to apply for a family registry (the Japanese version of a birth certificate) for the child, so that you can later apply for a passport An adoption service provider should be able to assist you with this process.

Japan Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Japan.

(Video) BPA Ep. 6: Adopting a Child from the Philippines.

Only the child's biological or adoptive parent or legal guardian may apply for a passport on behalf of the minor child, but an adoption service provider should be able to help get the document.

Please note: according to the Japanese nationality law, a child is not considered to have gained citizenship of a second country (the United States in this case) by his or her own will, so the child does not automatically lose Japanese citizenship when naturalized as a U.S. citizen. For more information,click here.

U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.

Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). If you filed a Form I-600 petition in the United States, you should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the petition and assignment of a case number and an invoice ID number. You will need this information to log into CEAC to file the DS-260 for your child. An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Print and bring the DS-260 form confirmation page to the visa interview. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.

It is not usually possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the same day as the immigrant visa interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo before making final travel arrangements.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: An adopted child residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence generally will acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry into the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including the child is under the age of eighteen.

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s entry into the United States and before the child turns eighteen for the child (if he or she otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000) to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

(Video) International Adoption and Other Immigration Options for Children


Does Japan allow international adoption? ›

American citizens can complete a full and final adoption in Japan under Japanese law. However, Japanese law requires the adopting parents and the child to spend at least six months togetherin Japan before the adoption can be finalized.

How hard is it to adopt a baby from Japan? ›

They believe in the strength of blood ties, so potential adoptive parents are thoroughly scrutinized. People who want to adopt a child from Japan should plan on spending at least nine months in country. A child must live with a potential adoptive parent for at least six months before the adoption can be fully approved.

Which country are most intercountry adoptions from? ›

Leading countries for intercountry adoptions into the United States in FY 2021
CharacteristicNumber of adoptions
South Korea156
1 more row
Oct 5, 2022

How is adoption viewed in Japan? ›

Japan is an outlier where child adoption is concerned. In most countries it is the norm that children who for whatever reason cannot be cared for by their birth parents are adopted or live with foster parents. But in Japan, the majority of such children reside in institutions.

In which countries adoption is easiest? ›

Thailand — With fast-moving paperwork and minimal fees, this Asian country is a destination for many prospective parents. Children aged 1 to 10 years can be placed with healthy married parents in less than two years.

Is adoption popular in Japan? ›

Every year in Japan more than 80,000 people are welcomed in to new homes—it's a country second only to America in terms of its adoption rate—yet when it comes to child adoption it's lagging well behind the rest of the developed world.


1. Japan: Children in Institutions Denied Family Life
(Human Rights Watch)
2. Does Race Matter in Adoptions?
3. How to Adopt | How to Afford it | International Adoption
(Melissa Heeg)
4. #75 – Catherine Ceniza Choy on the history of American adoption of Korean children
(Korea and the World)
5. Adopted Japanese children denied visas by Canada
(CBC News: The National)
6. The Stream - The challenges of international adoption
(Al Jazeera English)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Amb. Frankie Simonis

Last Updated: 03/20/2023

Views: 5577

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (56 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Amb. Frankie Simonis

Birthday: 1998-02-19

Address: 64841 Delmar Isle, North Wiley, OR 74073

Phone: +17844167847676

Job: Forward IT Agent

Hobby: LARPing, Kitesurfing, Sewing, Digital arts, Sand art, Gardening, Dance

Introduction: My name is Amb. Frankie Simonis, I am a hilarious, enchanting, energetic, cooperative, innocent, cute, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.