Adoption Update

The most up-to-date adoption news


In March 2007, a new program opened up to the US with an adoption agency in California, Across The World Adoptions. Their website is Their requirements to adopt from Japan are slightly different from the information posted below. 


ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR PROSPECTIVE ADOPTIVE PARENTS: Japanese law allows two types of adoptions: special and regular. (Please see details in the “Japanese Adoption Procedures” section below.)  In special adoptions, one of the adoptive parents must be over the age of 25 and the other must be at least 20 years old. Depending on the applicable U.S. State law, the Family Court may allow single parents to adopt on a case-by-case basis.

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS FOR PROSPECTIVE ADOPTIVE PARENTS: The Court will not consider adoption applications by prospective parents who are in Japan on temporary visitor visas. At least one prospective parent must show evidence of long-term residence in Japan. When the adoption is finalized, at least one adoptive parent must appear before the court. Japanese law does not permit proxy adoptions.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR POSSIBLY ADOPTABLE JAPANESE CHILDREN:  Japanese law does not define “orphan.”  Rather, a “child who requires protection” is defined as:

  • A child born out of wedlock;
  • An abandoned infant;
  • A child whose parent(s) has/have died or disappeared;
  • A child whose parents are incapable of providing support; or
  • An abused child.

The Child Guidance Center (CGC) is the local government authority responsible for determining whether a child requires protection. The CGC may issue a certificate to a “child who requires protection,” but only if the child has been placed under the care of the child welfare authorities. The CGC will not issue a certificate if the child is to be adopted abroad or if the child will benefit from a privately arranged adoption.

Under Japanese law, an adoptable child is any minor who has been irrevocably released for adoption by his/her sole surviving parent, legal guardian, both parents (if both are living and remain married), the biological mother (in the case of an out-of-wedlock birth), or the institution that has custody of the child. If the child is not Japanese, the Family Court with jurisdiction over the adoption will consider an adoptable child to be any child who has met the pre-adoption requirements of the child’s country of nationality. The surviving parent has the legal capacity to transfer custody of the child to a second party by signing a “statement of release of orphan for emigration and adoption.” If the surviving biological parent is a minor, i.e., under 20 years old, then the biological parent’s own parent or guardian must also sign a similar statement.

TIME FRAME: Adopting a child through the Family Court requires at least nine months, sometimes longer. The Family Court imposes no time limit on when an adoption must be completed.

JAPANESE ADOPTION FEES: Although costs can vary widely, the average total cost of adoption in Japan is approximately $20,000. This includes fees for the Family Court, adoption agency, immigration processing, airfare, lodging, and document translations and authentications. Adoption agency fees range from $2000 to $60,000, so the overall cost of the adoption often depends on which agency the parents choose. Parents may incur additional costs when adopting non-Japanese children or children with medical problems

ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS:  Neither adoption agencies nor attorneys are required to process an intercountry adoption in Japan.  However, Japanese attorneys specializing in adoptions do exist, and the Japanese government does maintain a list of recommended adoption agencies.  All adoption agencies in Japan are privately operated.  American prospective adoptive parents who would like to contact adoption agencies in Japan can obtain a list of adoption agencies on the U.S. Embassy’s website.

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/or the licensing office of the appropriate state government agency in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed.

(All information taken from the U.S. Department of State website)


  1. What if you live in Japan what are the fees if you what to adopt a relative who is Japanese?

    Comment by DAM | July 25, 2011 | Reply

  2. I am not sure, but here is a contact for you who might be able to help you with your questions. Her name is Tazuru, she is very knowledgeable and is currently working to place children in Japan and in the US. She is a registered adoption facilitator.

    “Across JAPAN” Office:
    #403, C-19-2 Shimana Gaiku, Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki-ken 300-2655
    (Ms. Tazuru OGAWA, Director of Across Japan)

    Hope this is helpful.

    Comment by adoptionupdate | July 27, 2011 | Reply

  3. thank you for your tips! useful for me lista de email lista de email lista de email lista de email lista de email

    Comment by lista de email | August 24, 2012 | Reply

  4. every time i come here i am not disappointed. nice post. lista de emails lista de emails lista de emails lista de emails lista de emails

    Comment by lista de emails | August 24, 2012 | Reply

  5. may i ask if you have japanese version of this page?

    Comment by princess | January 21, 2014 | Reply

    • I am sorry, we do not.

      Comment by adoptionupdate | January 22, 2014 | Reply

  6. What are the requirements in Japan to become the legal guardian of a 16 year old orphan whose education, living arrangements, food, etc., depend on someone else taking the role of a parent?

    Comment by Lisa Lacroix | May 28, 2014 | Reply

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