Every Child

Has Two Parents


Primary caregiver for the children denied access after plans to relocate fall apart.


In 1995, I went to Japan as an English teacher.  It was then that I met my future wife, Taeko. We were married in 1999 and In 2002 we had our first child, my daughter Jasmyn.  Two years later we had a son, Cody.  We were a happy family with the usual problems: tight finances, busy schedules, not enough time or money.  We also had the usual challenges with an inter-cultural marriage: language and cultural barriers.  But for the most part, we were able to work things out and have a loving family. 

I was the primary caregiver for our children and the separation has been heart wrenching for me.  When the kids were young it was my job to care for them.  I fed them breakfast in the morning and handled all of their needs until the late afternoon when my wife would return home.  I taught classes in the evenings. 

I had heard of other inter-cultural marriages in Japan having similar problems where the Japanese spouse denied visitation and parental rights to the non-Japanese parent, but never imagined Taeko would ever do such a thing.

During the summer of 2006, my wife suddenly lost a lot of weight, and I could tell she was stressed and depressed. I asked my friends and family for help.  We determined that it would be best to go on vacation and the kids and I went to Ithaca, NY for a month vacation.  My wife followed three weeks later.  While on vacation, I told my wife that since we were already planning to move to the US, we could simply move up the timeline and not return to Japan.  I wanted to go to a marriage counselor as well.  Marriage counseling is not popular in Japan, and extremely expensive.  She talked me out of staying and promised that we’d get some counseling in Japan.

In August  we returned to Japan, but due to Taeko’s schedule we were not able to get marriage counseling. Over time our marriage became more and more tense.  I suggested we make a change and attempt to start again in the United States and Taeko was enthusiastically behind it.  We started to make plans to move permanently to the US.  Finances were really tight and we weren’t going to be able to afford sending our son to pre-school if we stayed in Japan.  We had always planned on moving to the US to raise our family.  My wife and I liked my hometown, Ithaca, NY.

In November 2006 my wife’s mother had a stroke a week before I was scheduled to move back to the US.  I told my wife we would postpone the move until her mother recovered, but she insisted that we continue as planned.  I moved back to U.S. to look for new job and prepare for Taeko and the kids' arrival.  I started an intense job search fully expecting them to move in April at the latest.  My daughter was finishing her first year of kindergarten in March.  I applied for substitute teaching positions at several nearby schools and was on my way to accepting a full time teaching job.  My parents even bought us a car that would be safe and easy for my wife to drive.

About a week after arriving in the US, Taeko cut off all communications with me.  Taeko's cell phone blocked all incoming calls from my parents' home phone and her parents or her sister would hang up on me when I called their home.  Her sister, Naoko would even scream obscenities at me before hanging up.  I received a letter from her that some mutual friends of our translated.  I continued trying to call numerous times trying to get a hold of Taeko and wishing to speak with my children.  No luck.

It was December 2006 now and still no communication with Taeko or my children.  I received an email informing me that Taeko wanted nothing more to do with me.  I continued calling Taeko and trying to get through.  Taeko finally answered on Christmas day.   I was so thrilled to be able to speak briefly with my 2-year old son, Cody.  My 4-year old daughter, Jasmyn was very angry at me because I wasn’t there and didn’t want to speak with me.

After that one instance further communication was cut completely.  Finally, out of desperation, I call her at work hoping that she would be there, and that I would not be hung up on. I was able to speak with Taeko and begged her to allow me to speak with the children.  She agreed, she still never called.  Taeko called my mother and told her that she wants a divorce from me and that my parents will never see their grandchildren again if I didn't agree.

In mid February 2007arrangements were made with Taeko to come visit my family with the children.  Taeko requested that my parents make the travel arrangements and pay for the tickets.  Taeko wanted me to come to Japan first to pick up the kids, then fly back to the U.S. with them. Three weeks later, she would fly to the U.S. and stay for one week before returning to Japan.  We were unable to finalize the tickets however because Taeko did not give us her and the children’s passport numbers.  At that time Taeko started blocking calls and even emails from my mother went unanswered. 

I start packing and preparing to go.  Taeko called at the last minute and cancelled trip.  She complained that we did not get the dates she had ordered.  and that she had found better dates.  We had already bought the tickets and could not change them.  Taeko said that her lawyer and her family advised against the trip and repeated that my parents would never see their grandchildren again unless I divorced her.

We have been in and out of court ever since and still no contact with the kids.




The information on this website concerns a matter of public interest, and is provided for educational and informational purposes only in order to raise public awareness of issues concerning left-behind parents. Unless otherwise indicated, the writers and translators of this website are not lawyers nor professional translators, so be sure to confirm anything important with your own lawyer.

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