Every Child

Has Two Parents


California Mother ripped from the arms of her children as US Embassy Tokyo denies their right to remain with her.


In 1997, I met my husband, Ko, in California.  We began as language-exchange partners.  There was an immediate attraction.  Romance was in the air.  Even my 10 year-old daughter, Kirsten liked him.   Within a few months, I became pregnant and we were soon married.  On May 5, 1998, we arrived in Japan.  Ironically, it was both Mother’s Day in the U.S. and Children’s Day in Japan.



As soon as my husband’s foot hit Japanese soil, he changed; everything changed.  One example of the “new” behavior was when we had our first dinner with his parents, my new in-laws.  My husband kept his mother working during the entire meal, satisfying his needs.  My mother-in-law could not sit down and enjoy the very meal she had prepared. 

My 10-year-old daughter and I tried our best to immerse ourselves in the culture.  We took Japanese classes from language to making sushi.  She even attended a Japanese elementary school.  Unfortunately, the stress of balancing our American culture with the Japanese culture took its toll.   I am not Japanese, but my husband expected me to behave as such.  My marriage began to unravel.  After five years, I decided to get divorced.

My naïveté of the Japanese culture and laws left me vulnerable.  I made the false assumption that Japan was like the United States with regards to joint custody.  I had no idea that it is, in fact, illegal in Japan.  My husband’s promise of joint custody was a lie!


As soon as I moved out, the reality of Japan’s laws, or lack thereof, slapped me in the face.  Not only did Ko keep my children from me, he would not even allow me to talk with them on the phone.   He also had refused to renew my visa.  This left me both jobless and homeless because my apartment was part of the employment package.

I attempted to reconcile just so I could be with my children.  He turned me away.  I had no place to go.  I called my (Japanese) friends for help.  The all turned their backs on me.  Japanese do not like to get involved in family matters.  I stayed in a hotel for a few days…until my best (Japanese) friend told my husband and he cancelled the credit card.  That night, I ended up sleeping in the airport.  I went to the police.  They did nothing.  I went to city hall.  They were able to talk with my husband’s boss who gave me an apartment.

My husband still would not allow me to see our children.  I eventually showed up unannounced.  It was a nightmare.  My husband sent a family friend over.  Then his boss came by.  They were attempting to “talk sense” into me.  Finally, his parents barged in with a key unannounced and tried to take the children.  We ended getting into an altercation.  I wasn’t trying to take my children, I just wanted to spend time with them.

My husband eventually allowed me to spend the night with them.  I felt compelled to take advantage of this opportunity.  First thing the next morning, I went to the American Embassy with my children.  Ko had taken their American passports, so I attempted to get them reissued.  The embassy refused without their father’s signature.  I told them that he had signed all parental rights over to me.  We had it notarized at the very same embassy.  Unfortunately, I did not have it with me.  I was told that I could leave Japan, but my children could not.  I was paralyzed.  Given that I could no longer work in Japan, I was forced to return to the United States…without my children.

I called Ko to come pick up Austen and Kelcey at the American Embassy.  I cried hysterically as I said my goodbyes to my children.  Austin ran away from his father, towards the embassy.  Ko picked him up, then took our children through the gates of the American Embassy, disappearing into the haven for Child Abductors.  That was the last time I saw Austen and Kelcey.  It was 8 ½ long years ago.

sponsored by abp world group child recovery and security www.abpworld.com

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.

Copyright © 2003-2009                                                                Contact us


Please bear with us while we reconstruct CRN Japan.  You may find links that are broken and data that is not in it’s place.  Please understand we are working to fix all issues.  Thank you for your understanding.

   Search CRN Japan