“Two adoption agencies for young children in Tokyo received a total of about 83 million yen [Approx. $835,237.11] in donations from adoptive parents in the three years to fiscal 2011, it has been learned.
The two organizations almost always asked adoptive parents to make contributions, The Yomiuri Shimbun has found, and one entity received nearly 2 million yen for a single case.
The Child Welfare Law prohibits arranging the adoption of young children for profit. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has told local governments to research adoption agencies, as it suspects that such large donations could be considered de facto payments for these organizations’ services, a violation of the law.
The Tokyo metropolitan government on Thursday conducted on-site inspections of the two organizations.
Under the special adoption system for young children, children aged younger than 6 should in principle be adopted by a married man and woman who are both at least 25 years old, following approval from a family court. Upon adoption, these children lose legal connections–such as inheritance rights–with their biological parents. In other adoptions, legal connections are maintained.
Adoption agencies have to register with either a local prefectural government, ordinance-designated city or other major city. People who are found to have arranged adoptions for profit face a maximum three-year term in prison, a fine of up to 1 million yen, or both.
In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of young children adopted through private agencies, mainly because more people are getting married later in life. A total of 127 young children were adopted this way in fiscal 2011, three times as many as in fiscal 2009.
The Child Welfare Law prohibits agencies from making a profit through adoption arrangements, to prevent human trafficking. In 1987, the welfare ministry said agencies can only charge adopted parents actual costs for their services, such as transportation and communication fees. In 2006, the ministry clarified that donations from adoptive parents should be made on a voluntary basis.
The two organizations in question are Baby Life, a foundation in Higashi-Kurume, Tokyo, and Wa no Kai, a nonprofit organization in Shinjuku Ward.
According to documents obtained by The Yomiuri Shimbun from the ministry and the metropolitan government, Baby Life handled 44 adoptions over the three years up to fiscal 2011, for which the foundation charged a total of about 33 million yen as actual costs.
Baby Life reported that it received about 46 million yen as donations in 41 of the 44 cases. There were 27 cases in which the donation exceeded 1 million yen, with 1.87 million yen [Approx. $18,814.15] as the top amount.
Baby Life told The Yomiuri Shimbun it received all the money as actual costs for its services, despite reporting otherwise.
“We reported actual costs and donations separately when we submitted reports to the metropolitan government,” a Baby Life official said. “However, we got all the money as actual costs, such as personal and office expenses.”
Meanwhile, Wa no Kai handled 46 adoptions in the three-year period, in almost all of which it charged 600,000 yen as actual costs.
Moreover, the organization received donations in 39 cases, or more than 80 percent. It set donation amounts at 1.2 million yen for arranging the first child for a couple (25 cases) and 600,000 yen for the second (10 cases). Wa no Kai saved part of the donations, with its fund totaling 27 million yen as of the end of last year.
Wa no Kai told The Yomiuri Shimbun that the organization offered its services on the condition that clients would make contributions to it.
“We needed the donations for our activities,” a Wa no Kai official said. “However, we’d like to make some changes based on instructions from the central and metropolitan governments.””
2 groups got huge sums for adoptions
[The Japan News 7/12/13 by The Yomiuri Shimbun]
The blog An Adoptive Family’s Guide to Japanese Adoption identifies two agencies that use Baby Life: US agency Faith International and Canadian agency Choices. Furthermore, Baby Life’s website identifies Faith International as the US agency on their home page. They refer to these donations as “Angel” fees. They have a message on their homepage regarding this article. It reads as follows on their translated site:
“To whom it may concern
You Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in the activities of the corporation on a daily basis.
The 11th of July 2013, information different from the facts from media outlets is related to the child welfare business baby life to do is flowing, I regret very much. In our, and made collection Angel fees as (activity actual cost) the expenses pertaining to the activities, but does not undertake to claim as a donation, and made claims as actual cost. Fact that making profit unfairly because it does not collect the amount in excess of activity costs and expenses actually incurred is not. Therefore the fact that, in violation of the notification of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare legislation is not.
About the detailed description of the facts, we will continue to publish in order to match the progress of the investigation of Tokyo.
Once again, about what we apologize for the worry to some people concerned parties, and We apologize deeply, we expressed their protest against the wrong coverage.
The Institute of baby life CEO Shinozuka Kang Ji”
Adoptive parents shocked by enormous fees[The Japan News 7/12/13 by The Yomiuri Shimbun] says “Is it acceptable for an organization to demand donations of more than 1 million yen when it finds a baby for a couple to adopt?
Two private adoption organizations have been demanding a large amount of money when they find a baby for a couple to adopt through the special adoption system for children younger than 6. The organizations claim that the money covers necessary costs for their activities, but adoptive parents and child welfare experts say the fees are excessive and fuel suspicions that the groups are arranging adoptions for profit.
A man in his 40s adopted a child several years ago through NPO Baby Life, which became a general incorporated association in January. “I’m grateful the organization found the baby for us. But this is like a ‘baby business,’” he said.
After unsuccessfully going through infertility treatment, the man and his wife decided to adopt a child. They registered at Baby Life, which they learned about through a friend, and were told the organization could mediate an adoption.
However, the couple was baffled when Baby Life asked them to pay about 2 million yen, including a 1 million yen commission. “I thought it was strange they were charging such a large amount of money,” the man’s wife recalled. “But we were in a weak position because they arranged a baby for us to adopt and I thought we couldn’t miss this chance considering our age. So we paid.”
Baby Life currently asks couples who adopt children through their organization to pay a uniform rate of 1.8 million yen as what it calls an “angel fee” in addition to actual costs, including expenses associated with the birth of the baby. A lawyer on the organization’s board said: “The money is used to cover such things as staff costs and activities expenses. We set a necessary amount based on actual expenses from the previous fiscal year.”
Yasutomo Shinozuka, the organization’s representative director, established in January 2009 a company named Baby Life whose principal purpose is mediating adoptions. The company is also headed by Shinozuka and located at the same address as the organization.
The company makes a profit by arranging child care staff to look after babies before they are taken to adoptive parents. In 2012 Shinozuka was paid about 7 million yen by the NPO and 1.1 million yen by the company. Concerning those payments, Shinozuka said: “Mediation is not for profit. [The payments] were fair compensation for my work.”
However, a veteran judge pointed out that those activities are circumventions of the law that may violate the Child Welfare Law. “If they transfer money paid by adoptive parents to the company, the money would no longer be under administrative supervision and so they can receive a large amount of money.”
Wa no Kai, an organization that received the next largest amount of money after Baby Life, registered in 1992 and became a nonprofit organization in 2000. The organization is known for its progressive efforts, such as holding events for adoptive parents after the mediation.
Some of the donated money is spent on child care and other costs before children are handed over to adoptive parents. But 13.5 million yen, nearly half of all its donations, was left over in both 2011 and 2012.
A 37-year-old man asked Wa no Kai to mediate the adoption of a child four years ago, but gave up after the organization asked him to pay about 2 million yen. “They didn’t even show a breakdown of expenses, and I decided not to seek a child because I felt like I’d be buying one,” he said.
Other mediation bodies that do not receive donations from adoptive parents also question the practice.
“Though adoption is aimed at the welfare of children, it’s become a business. We should review the system in which an organization is run with money paid by the parties involved,” said Koji Samejima, the director of an obstetrics and gynecology clinic in Saitama Prefecture.
A head of another body expressed concern, saying “If adopted children learn someday about the large amounts of money that swirled around them, they may think they were bought with cash.””
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