Your Help Is Needed!
I’ve been planning for a while to crank the engine on the blog again, but I have to say, today’s story is NOT what I’d expected to be writing about. This week, in fact, I’ve been working on an open letter, expressing horror and outrage at events unfolding in the world around us, but I need to save that for another day. Instead, I’m going to talk about an issue a little closer to home.
Though not completely unrelated.
My friend, the much beloved writer, artist and teacher Lee Edward Födi, has been caught up [along with several other Canadian families] in a bureaucratic mixup that has trapped his family along with his new baby son, in Japan.
Here’s his story:
We are one of five Canadian families that have been stranded here in Japan with the children we are in the process of adopting because the department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) decided to delay issuance of permanent residence visas to the babies being adopted in Japan while they engage in a lengthy investigation that has no defined end date.
We only learned Thursday of last week that the source of the investigation into Japanese adoptions came from a US State Department notice, which outlines new requirements for the US with regard to inter country adoptions. US immigration laws are starkly different from Canadian immigration laws. The information on the website is merely a change in interpretation of US immigration laws under the current Trump administration. To date, the IRCC has not provided the five families, or our legal counsel, with any other documents or legal opinions that undermine the process we have taken. On the contrary, we have provided numerous legal opinions based on Canadian, BC, and Japanese law, which support the process we have taken.
We have followed the same process that has been in place for ten years. The adoptions are in accordance with BC’s adoption laws and each family received a letter of approval from the British Columbia Adoption Branch before we travelled to Japan.
We have also met all of the federal requirements in order to be issued the visa. The federal government has stopped issuing the visas, without advance notice to our families, who relied on an approved process.
Simply put, we traveled to Japan with love in our hearts, to give homes to five children. Each of us came to the adoption journey from a different starting point, but we have all arrived at the same destination, not only geographically, but emotionally. Between the period of late April and mid-May, our five families travelled to Tokyo, Japan, and took care and custody of our children within one day of arriving.
For us, these are not our children to be adopted: they are simply our children. Like any other Canadian family, we love them deeply. We have spent weeks bonding with them, nurturing them, waking at all hours to feed them, burp them, change them. We have taken them for medical appointments. We have taken them for immunizations. We have taken them for long walks through the park. We have read to them, sang to them, soothed them.
We have done all of these things in Tokyo, Japan. It is a beautiful city in a wonderful, welcoming country. But it is not our home. We want to spend Canada Day with our children in Canada.
The pressure grows with each day, financially, emotionally, physically, and relationally. Worst of all, there is no end in sight. The IRCC seems content to watch us bleed out, providing us with no timeline for resolution. In their own words, our children are merely “prospective”—it’s as if, from their point of view, as if our babies don’t really exist.
We appreciate everyone’s support during this difficult time. If you want to help us and the four other Canadian families, you can contact the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada with the information that appears below. We also ask that you forward our email to anyone that you think will be willing to help, asking them to also email the Minister. We want to bombard the Minister’s office with our story.
Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6
When emailing, please copy Justin Trudeau: firstname.lastname@example.org
You may also want to copy your MP. You can find out your MP’s email with this link: https://www.ourcommons.ca/parliamentarians/en/constituencies/FindMP
You can use the text below, but please feel free to personalize and customize it, especially to add your own opinions on the matter or if you want to specifically reference us.
Subject Line: Outraged to learn that 5 Canadian families have been stranded in Japan after the IRCC suspends visa issuance in reference to US policy
To the Honourable Ahmed D. Hussen,
I am writing as a concerned Canadian citizen, outraged and alarmed to learn that five Canadian families have been stranded in Tokyo, Japan, while bureaucrats in your department have delayed issuance of permanent residence visas to the babies they are in the process of adopting because of a decision to take authority from the US Department of State website.
Why is the Canadian government looking to the United States for guidance on our own immigration laws and policies? This alarming decision has trapped five Canadian families in a foreign country, casting them into ongoing uncertainty AFTER they have received custody of their children.
I understand that the families have done everything in accordance with Canadian, British Columbia, and Japanese laws. They undertook this journey in good faith and conscience, following a prescribed system that has been in place for 10 years and for dozens of adoptions from Japan into Canada. They completed a rigorous program with a registered BC adoption agency and did not circumvent any system, regulation, or process. Each of the families received a letter of approval from the British Columbia Adoption Branch for their specific child to come to BC before they left for Japan. The only missing piece is their permanent residence visa for their child.
Without the visas, the five families are forced to remain in Tokyo, one of the most expensive cities in the world, being drained financially and emotionally—and there is no end in sight.
These families have spent the last several weeks nurturing and bonding with the babies who would have otherwise ended up in state care. It seems cruel and callous to prevent them from coming home. What should be a joyous time of sharing a new addition to the family with friends and relatives has been inverted into a crisis situation.
There are children involved in this situation—babies all under the age of four months—and yet they are being treated as mere pieces of paper. Case files. The treatment of these five Canadian families—and their babies—seems counter to every value purported to be so important to the Canadian government.
This process had not been in the best interest of the children and I urge you to issue the visas and bring them home.
Your name and address
Lee and Marcie and the other families have been working for weeks now, and have reached a point where, even after meeting every requirement, there is still ZERO forward motion from our government. This week, here at home, Canadians have been expressing shock and horror at the treatment of the children of refugees at the hands of the American government. The idea that these American policies may also be having fallout on the lives of these Canadian families is astonishing and terrible. And, unlike American legislation, we can do something about this. In the weeks and months ahead, I’m going to be talking about some of the other ways Canada and Canadians have failed our own citizens. But today?
I’m asking you for your help. For my friends, and their new baby Hiro. And for their friends. Let’s send up a chorus to let the government know this is an issue we care about. Let’s bring these families home for Canada Day.
You can see further coverage here:
Thanks for reading this far, and for any help and hope you can offer.
Popping in here to add more links.
CTV [right at the top of the newscast]
The Province [print and video]
To reiterate: A change in AMERICAN policy should not dictate Canadian actions.
ISSUE THE VISAS!