Adoption leader finds homes for unwanted babies

by Mayuko Kobayashi

Kyodo

Obstetrician Koji Samejima had always felt a gap existed between couples who wanted a baby but couldn’t conceive and women who were expecting a baby they wouldn’t be able to raise.

“I wanted to save pregnant women who couldn’t raise their babies as well as the babies,” said Samejima, director of Samejima Bonding Clinic in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture.

Samejima, who is also a gynecologist, has helped match such women with childless couples wishing to take care of their babies since 1989 and has arranged 66 adoptions over the past 25 years.

He has also learned firsthand how to deal with mothers and families of various backgrounds.

“I have kept fumbling for (such ways), trying and learning by mistake all these years,” he said.

Samejima opened his clinic in 2006 and in September this year launched a liaison council comprising obstetricians and gynecologists to facilitate adoption arrangements — the first entity of its kind founded by medical institutions in Japan.

About 20 obstetrics and gynecology facilities across Japan are members of the council and provide consultations to women with unwanted pregnancies.

Doctors explain the various options available to the women, which sometimes persuades them to change their mind after birth and raise the child on their own, Samejima said.

He said he believes that adoption is only “part of medical treatment” and asks foster parents to stay in hospitals and hold their adopted baby in the labor room as if it were their own. Foster parents are also schooled on how to raise the baby, which is legally considered their own under a nationally recognized “special” adoption system used by the council.

Unlike other adoption agencies, the liaison council is capable of providing constant physical and mental care to both the biological mothers, the adopting parents and the babies.

The council has refused to accept any rewards or donations.

“I have been doing this for salvation out of pure motivation,” Samejima said, referring to his Christian faith.