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Adoption Horror Story

Updated On: September 6, 2023

Season: 1 | Episode: 5

There are thousands of happy ending adoption stories. This is not one of them. Maria Killian, one of our honorary “Moms,” shares an adoption story about the challenge of Americans adopting a child from Japan in the 1970s. It also details the sometimes horrific and heartbreaking challenges this family experienced. We appreciate Maria’s openness and candor in sharing her adoption horror story.

The Clark family in Japan (5:28)

Corey: One of the things that I get a kick out of with this story, Kendall’s journey, is that it’s a small world coincidences about him finding his birth family. Kendall’s grandfather, on his birth father’s side, was stationed in Japan for a few years. Kendall’s dad and his two uncles, they were little kids at the time. And though Kendall’s dad does have some memories of living in Japan and not speaking the language and not understanding his teachers and that sort of thing.

Orphan to factory worker (7:00)

Maria: They had 32 children, and they could only stay there until they were 12. And then they were sent off to factory dormitory, and that’s where they work for the rest of their life.

Burgers and fries (7:56)

Maria: The kids were wonderful. And every Saturday afternoon I would get them and bring them to my home. And we would have English class, and then we would have hamburgers and French fries.

Little voice (8:32)

Maria: There’s this little voice, ‘hello.’ And I turn around and here’s this little person

speaking English. It’s a very gifted little boy who turns into a very gifted man.

Adoption decision (10:00)

Maria: I talked with my husband and said, ‘You could open an opportunity for one of these children.’ My husband said, ‘We don’t have much, but we have more than this.’ We went ahead to see about adopting in Japan.

An act of Congress (11:31)

Maria: It was explained to me that I had to have an act of Congress to get my son past the two year waiting period to get him into the country. We’re leaving within the year. I don’t have two years. I can’t stay here. He can’t come. So I wrote my congressman and I said, ‘Get a waiver.’ Yeah, I got the act of Congress.

Trauma (12:32)

Maria: At three years old, he thought was his mother abandoned the family. That was tragic and traumatizing, I’m sure. But when he read the papers, he found out that his birth mother left him at the hospital. So, he’d been abandoned twice already. And that’s when he found out.

Adoption horror story (14:54)

Maria: I think maybe he wanted to be an only child. I don’t know. That was impossible. And he knew that when he signed on.

Corey: What’s your relationship like today?

Maria: He is back in Japan. When he calls or texts, he is always apologizing for his deeds. I think he’s sincere, but it’s like when you touch a stove, how close do you get?

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