The pains and dreams of LGBT couples who want to raise their children happily | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The pains and dreams of LGBT couples who want to raise their children happily

Nonfiction writer Kota Ishii delves into the depths of Japanese society!

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A charm for safe delivery placed in Baby Poketto.

Yasuo Uehara is a transgender man who underwent gender reassignment surgery to change from a woman to a man. And Yumi, who married him and became his wife. Following the first part of this article, I would like to explain how this couple came to have a newborn baby through Baby Poketto, a support group for special adoptions.

LGBT Adoption (Part 1)

(*For privacy reasons, some of the facts, including the names, have been changed after consulting with the couple.)

After their marriage, the first thing Yasuo and Yumi thought of as a way to have a child was to receive a sperm donation from one of Yasuo’s relatives.

Although Yasuo has undergone gender reassignment surgery, his body is not capable of producing sperm on its own. Therefore, he received sperm from his relatives and Yumi used it to conceive through artificial insemination. This way, she would be able to have a child from Yasuo’s family, even if they were not directly related.

One day, Yasuo asked his younger brother about donating his sperm. Since his younger brother was already married and had children, he decided to consider the matter as a couple, as he could not decide on his own.

The reply I received from my brother later was as follows.

I’m sorry I can’t help you.

It was especially difficult for his wife to accept the fact that Yumi, her sister-in-law, was going to have her husband’s child.

The next method they considered was to receive a sperm donation from an unknown third party. The couple decided to contact a university hospital that was pioneering this method. However, there was another high hurdle to overcome.

“We want a child by blood.”

A tidy washroom at Baby Poketto.

In addition to the fact that the hospital had no precedent of doing this for transgender couples, it became clear that there were problems such as high costs, a lack of donors, the need for many tests, and a long waiting list. In light of all this, it was not practical to have a child this way.

They discussed and decided to use the special adoption system as a third option. Yumi explains why they chose this option.

There was also the option of receiving a sperm donation from a third party, but I was concerned about the fact that even though I am related to my husband, he is not. I didn’t want something to happen later and think, ‘This wasn’t supposed to happen. So I decided to raise a child who was not related to me or my husband as a special adopted child.

Why did she choose the special adoption system instead of the foster care system? Yumi continued.

In the foster care system, they take in children as young as kindergarten or elementary school age and raise them. In the foster care system, we take in children as young as kindergarten or elementary school age. Then we decided that it would be more suitable for us to accept newborn babies as special adopters and raise them from scratch. So we decided to look for an organization that provides support for special adoptions.

Here, I would like to explain the structure of the support for special adoptions provided by private organizations.

There are often cases in the world where parents refuse to raise their children. These include children born to young couples, such as junior high school students, children born from adultery, children born from sexual crimes, and children born to parents who are incapable of raising them due to illness or disability.

Many women who have such pregnancies choose to have an abortion. However, if they are not willing to have an abortion, or if they miss the time when the operation is available, they have no choice but to give birth.

These parents, for their own reasons, want to leave their child with a third party immediately after birth and sever the parent-child relationship. In this case, they use the special adoption system, which allows them to legally dissolve the parent-child relationship in the family register and hand over the child to another couple.

When the parents decide to do so, they contact an organization that provides support for special adoptions. After a discussion between the parents and the organization, an agreement and contract is made, and all that is left is to wait for the delivery.

Once the parents have successfully delivered the baby, the organization takes care of the newborn and hands it over to an infertile couple who is looking for a child. At a later date, with the approval of the family court, the child is officially removed from the mother’s family register and is raised as the child of the new couple, both in terms of life and in terms of law. This is the general process of special adoption.

There are several organizations in Japan that provide support for such special adoptions, and Yasuo and Yumi chose one of the larger ones to contact. When they first contacted the organization, they did not tell them that they were a transgender couple, only that they were working with children and wanted to adopt a child. At that time, the person in charge of the organization was very welcoming, but when I mentioned my gender transition when I submitted my entry sheet, they stopped contacting me. I waited and waited, but never heard anything.

Many things are unknown.

Takuko Okada, representative of Baby Poketto

After three months of waiting, two people contacted the organization. The person in charge told us the following.

We are in the process of discussing this matter. There is no precedent for our organization to place a child in a special adoption program for a couple who have changed their gender. Therefore, there is no manual, and many things are unknown to us.

At the same time, they were shocked that an organization with such a good track record could not come up with a positive response to their request. This would probably make it even more difficult to ask other organizations.

Still, the two asked if they could be introduced to another organization. The person in charge introduced us to four organizations with the preface, “We don’t know if there is any precedent for other organizations.

After that, we contacted these four organizations, but they either said “we’ll look into it” or refused. We had no choice but to look for more organizations on our own and contact them one by one.

The only one that accepted us was Baby Poketto, headquartered in Ibaraki Prefecture. They take in all kinds of newborns, from those born to junior high school students to those born to women who work in the sex industry. About 40 They had been taking in all kinds of newborns, from those born to junior high school students to those born to women who work in the sex industry, and had been adopting about 40 cases a year.

Takuko Okada, the representative of the organization, responded to our inquiry.

It’s okay. We have been receiving inquiries from similar couples, and we have been thinking that we would like to work on this. I believe that even couples like you have the right to have a child and be happy. Please register with us.”

It was as if a light had shone in the darkness. Yasuo and Yumi decided to sign up for Baby Poketto.

Of course, Baby Poket does not offer unconditional support for special adoptions. There are many requirements that must be met, such as the family’s income, age, living environment, living ability, and personality, and the applicant must go through multiple interviews and training sessions.

Fortunately, Yasuo and Yumi cleared all the requirements set by Baby Poketto and were approved to become members. All that was left was to wait for their turn to be notified that they wanted to give their unborn child up for special adoption.

Half a month later, the day finally came. They were very happy. They were very happy and took the newborn baby and raised it at home.

It’s the norm overseas.

Yumi said.

All the other organizations were looking backward, but Baby Poket was very proactive. Ms. Okada and her staff even held a study session within the group to learn more about LGBTQ (a general term for sexual minorities) since there was no precedent. They even held a study session during the meeting. In addition, people from the headquarters visited our house and asked us many questions.

I was very happy to see how everyone was trying to deepen their understanding, and that is how many things moved forward. I felt that just by having someone who thinks like Mr. Okada, things would be so different. If it hadn’t been for this encounter, I might not have been able to have children even now.

It was three months after the couple had taken in their baby that I spoke to them. It was the third month after the couple took in the baby, a time when the baby was just about to be able to hold its head up and everything needed to be done. In those three months, the couple realized that raising a child is very different from learning about it in a classroom and actually doing it. Nevertheless, they are enjoying their days full of happiness.

What were Baby Poketto’s Okada’s thoughts on this support for special adoptions? Okada says.

I don’t know enough about transgender people. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have any doubts about whether it would be really okay. It wasn’t that I was worried because I was transgender, but because I didn’t understand transgender people well enough to worry about them.

Nevertheless, it is becoming more and more common for transgender couples to have children and raise them overseas. Even in Japan, such people are now being allowed to marry, and their desire to raise children is growing. We have received such inquiries for the past two years, although we have not had any results.

In fact, such forms of child-rearing are rapidly increasing in Europe, the United States, and even in some parts of Asia. It is no exaggeration to say that it is becoming the standard, especially in developed countries.

In the midst of these changing times, when I heard about the lives of Yasuo and Yumi, I realized how difficult it must have been for them, and at the same time, I thought that it is people like them who need to be happy. In order for that to happen, organizations like ours have to take action first. The reason why we held LGBTQ study sessions at our headquarters was because we felt that we needed to deepen our understanding.

I think it’s great that they will be the first two couples to join us, because they have the expertise and will be able to overcome many more difficulties than couples who do not. I expect that this will open up a new path for us.

As Okada says, the hardships faced by transgender couples in adopting a special child are much greater than those faced by non-transgender couples.

To begin with, the system of special adoption itself is not well known in Japan. For example, Yasuo and his family did not receive any notice of child allowance or one-month checkup even after they took in the baby. When they tried to contact the government office, the staff at the counter did not understand the special adoption system before that, and they were unable to proceed. The couple had no choice but to contact the Child Guidance Center to mediate the situation, and the problem was finally resolved.

However, they were able to do this because they were both working with children and knew where to turn for help in such a situation. Otherwise, the couple would not have come up with the solution of consulting a child guidance center.

There are also many difficulties within the family. Families with specially adopted children face the challenge of “truth-telling,” that is, when and how to tell their children about their origins. Even though the child is legally a biological child, the family register will show that the child was specially adopted. This is why it is necessary to discuss the blood relationship in advance to avoid any problems between the parent and child.

This alone is difficult, but in the case of transgender people, they also have to make an announcement about their gender. I had to tell them about my gender identity, my gender reassignment, how I got married to Yumi, and the circumstances that led me to use the special adoption system. It’s not easy to talk about these things in a way that people can understand.

However, for a transgender couple to welcome a specially adopted child and build a family, it means overcoming all these challenges. What Okada expects from the two of them is to pave the way and spread this kind of family.

Nevertheless, there are still some negative attitudes in society, such as the following.

How can a transgender couple raise a child properly? How can a transgender couple raise a child properly? If the child grows up with such parents, the child will be distorted.

I was lucky to grow up in this house.”

What do the two women think about the fact that there are more than a few discriminatory opinions?

First, let’s look at Yumi’s opinion.

For example, children from single-parent families are more likely to have children from single-parent families. For example, are children from single parent families unhappy? Are children who grow up in institutions unhappy? Isn’t the idea that children raised by couples like us are unhappy or distorted exactly the same?

Whatever the shape of the family, all parents can do is to give their children the utmost love. If one day, when they grow up, they say, “I was happy growing up in this house,” there is no greater happiness for us. I don’t think it’s up to a third party to decide what happiness should be before that.

Yasuo nodded his head in agreement.

Yasuo nodded his head in agreement, “Only you can decide what happiness is. I may have damaged the body my parents gave me by having gender reassignment surgery, and made my life short. But now that I am able to marry Yumi and raise our child, I feel happier than ever. No matter what others say, I can say that I am happy. In the same way, I hope that my children will find their own happiness. No matter what happens, the best thing is for them to feel happy themselves.

Hearing this, I couldn’t help but feel the path that the couple had taken.

In today’s world, there is a tendency to quantify people’s happiness. How many points you get if your parents are together, how many points you get if you go to a top university, how many points you get if you earn a salary, how many points you get if your child passes an entrance exam. …… If your child passes the entrance exam, you will be happy. If your child passes the entrance exam, you are happy.

But how meaningful is happiness calculated in such a way?

Happiness is something that you feel, not something that can be objectively quantified. As Yasuo said, it doesn’t matter if you are being discriminated against, having surgery on your body, or raising a child who is not related to you, as long as you feel that you are happy now, there is nothing more you can do.

Both Yasuo and Yumi know this from their own experiences, and that is why they want to build a family that can truly say they are happy.

I strongly felt this when I listened to their story, and I hope that their way of life will become a new guidepost that will bring them much happiness.

(Titles omitted in the text)

  • Interview, writing, photography Kota Ishii

    Born in Tokyo in 1977. Nonfiction writer. Graduated from Nihon University College of Art. He is active in reporting and writing about culture, history, and medicine in Japan and abroad. His books include "The House of 'Demons': Parents Who Kill Their Own Children," "Forty-three Killing Intentions: The Depths of the Kawasaki Jr. 1 Boys' Murder Case," "Rental Child," "Kinship Murder," and "Social Map of Disparity and Division.

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