British Columbia

Couple brings adopted baby from Japan home to B.C. after months of delay

B.C. families were stuck in Japan with adopted children as the Canadian government sorted out the confusion over adoption rules.

'It's good to be home so finally we can get on with our lives'

Wiyani Prayetno and Ryan Hoag with baby Naomi home in Vancouver. (Yvette Brend/CBC)

After months of delay in Japan, new parents Wiyani Prayetno and Ryan Hoag were able to bring their newly adopted baby girl, Naomi, home to Vancouver from Tokyo.

Prayetno and Hoag are one of five families who faced delays getting visas for their children to return home with them due to bureaucratic confusion over cross-Pacific adoptions.

The couple, who live in Coquitlam, B.C., travelled to Japan last month, meeting their newborn daughter for the first time May 9. They thought they would receive her visa within two weeks, so they could return to Canada as a family.

But the delays dragged on.

Hoag had to return home to care for his father who had fallen ill. Prayetno ended up staying for weeks in a Tokyo hotel room caring for her daughter without knowing when she'd be able to come home.

Brent Hoag, left, Sally Hoag, right, and Ryan's parents, waited for their new granddaughter at Vancouver International Airport. “It’s a terrific sense of relief and joy," said Ryan's father, Brent. (Yvette Brend/CBC)

Brent Hoag, Ryan's father, who was at Vancouver International Airport to greet his new granddaughter Tuesday, said his daughter-in-law, Prayetno, showed a lot of resilience in the face of such an ordeal.

"To be a first-time mother in a foreign country and not speaking the language and not understanding the rationale or reason for the delays has been extremely taxing on her," Hoag said.

"She's done an incredible job."

Reason for delays unclear

The central issue with the visas was an April 13 notice from the U.S. government, which says it was told by the government of Japan that all inter-country adoptions of Japanese children require authorization from the courts in Japan.

To date, Canadians haven't required that authorization to adopt children from Japan. But Canadian officials told adoptive parents they need clarification from the Japanese government to make sure that no one is breaking the law.

Until that clarification arrives, Canada said it would not issue visas for babies adopted in Japan. Hoag is unclear why the visa was eventually issued.

Baby Naomi arrived home to Vancouver after spending weeks in bureaucratic limbo in Japan. (Daniel Beauparlant/CBC)

As for the new parents, they were grateful to be home.

"She travelled very well today with Mom on the plane. We made some passengers nervous when we sat down with a newborn on the plane, but she behaved herself the whole way home, so they enjoyed her company," father Ryan Hoag said.

"It feels very surreal but it's good to be home, so, finally, we can get on with our lives," Prayetno added.

With files from Yvette Brend

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