Over the past twelve years we’ve had a few score Japanese exchange students live with our family. I’ve spent uncounted hours eating meals with them, watching TV with them and chatting with them. I love Japan and her people, especially her girls.
I know that Asian families don’t adopt orphans and that when Asians get divorced – which is looked down on and rare - that the children are often irrevocably separated from their mothers. If a divorced mother remarries she usually “leaves” her children in the care of a Grandmother.
Almost without exception we’ve found the Japanese girls who’ve lived with us to be delightful temporary family members. The sweet 28 year old that just moved in this past weekend has an amazing story to tell us. She shared wonderful pictures of her family, including pictures of the traditional Japanese Wedding of her father and “mother” in a magnificent Shinto temple. Her mother wore fourteen kimonos; the top one being just like the one Princess Masako wore when she married the crown prince. But the wedding was only ten years ago.
Her birth parents were divorced when she was eight and her father kept her and her brother. She was told her “former mother” was jealous of her and had “gone away.”
My wife was astounded that she hadn’t seen her birth mother in twenty years, even though we knew this was culturally accepted, even necessary in Japan. Cindy couldn’t imagine carrying a child for nine months and caring for her ‘til age eight and then just leaving.
Yes, Asian “family values” are often wonderful… but they are very different from ours, and in some ways, not as good. Perhaps the best family value system would be a mix of Asian and Western family values.