5 Canadian families stranded by the federal government—and mine is one of them

5 Canadian families stranded by the federal government—and mine is one of them

I don’t get involved in politics on this blog—this is usually the place where I talk about daydreaming.

But right now Marcie and I find ourselves ensnared in a devastating situation, and it’s time to tell our story.

We are one of five Canadian families that have been stranded  in Japan with the children we are in the process of adopting.


Because the department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) decided to delay issuance of permanent residence visas to us while they engage in a lengthy investigation that has no defined end date.

Why are they investigating?

Short answer: we’re not sure.

Long answer: we learned on June 15 that what prompted the investigation into Japanese adoptions came from a US State Department notice, which outlines new requirements for the US with regard to inter country adoptions.

So why is the Canadian government deferring to US immigration policy? US immigration laws are starkly different from Canadian immigration laws. The information on the website is merely a change in interpretation of US immigration laws under the current Trump administration.

To date, the IRCC has not provided us, or any of the four other families, or our legal counsel, with any other documents or legal opinions that undermine the process we have taken.

On the contrary, we have provided numerous legal opinions based on Canadian, BC, and Japanese law, which support the rigorous process we have followed. In fact, we have followed the same process that has been in place for ten years. The adoptions are in accordance with BC’s adoption laws and each family received a letter of approval from the British Columbia Adoption Branch before we travelled to Japan.  

We have also met all of the federal requirements in order to be issued the visa. The federal government has stopped issuing the visas, without advance notice to our families, who relied on an approved process.

Simply put, we traveled to Japan with love in our hearts, to give homes to five children. Each of us came to the adoption journey from a different starting point, but we have all arrived at the same destination, not only geographically, but emotionally.

Between the period of late April and mid-May, our five families travelled to Tokyo, Japan, and took care and custody of our children within one day of arriving.


For us, these are not our children to be adopted: they are simply our children. Like any other Canadian family, we love them deeply. We have spent weeks bonding with them, nurturing them, waking at all hours to feed them, burp them, change them. We have taken them for medical appointments. We have taken them for immunizations. We have taken them for long walks through the park. We have read to them, sang to them, soothed them.

We have done all of these things in Tokyo, Japan. It is a beautiful city in a wonderful, welcoming country. But it is not our home. We want to spend Canada Day with our children in Canada.


The pressure grows with each day, financially, emotionally, physically, and relationally. Worst of all, there is no end in sight. The IRCC seems content to watch us bleed out, providing us with no timeline for resolution. In their own words, our children are merely “prospective”—it’s as if, from their point of view, as if our babies don’t really exist.

We appreciate everyone’s support during this difficult time. If you want to help us and the four other Canadian families, you can contact the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada with the information that appears below.

Ahmed Hussen
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A6

Telephone: 613-954-1064

You can use the text below, but please feel free to personalize and customize it, especially to add your own opinions on the matter or if you want to specifically reference us.

Subject Line: Outraged to learn that 5 Canadian families have been stranded in Japan after the IRCC suspends visa issuance in reference to US policy

To the Honourable Ahmed D. Hussen,

I am writing as a concerned Canadian citizen, outraged and alarmed to learn that five Canadian families have been stranded in Tokyo, Japan, while bureaucrats in your department have delayed issuance of permanent residence visas to the babies they are in the process of adopting because of a decision to take authority from the US Department of State website.

Why is the Canadian government looking to the United States for guidance on our own immigration laws and policies? This alarming decision has trapped five Canadian families in a foreign country, casting them into ongoing uncertainty AFTER they have received custody of their children.

I understand that the families have done everything in accordance with Canadian, British Columbia, and Japanese laws. They undertook this journey in good faith and conscience, following a prescribed system that has been in place for 10 years and for dozens of adoptions from Japan into Canada. They completed a rigorous program with a registered BC adoption agency and did not circumvent any system, regulation, or process. Each of the families received a letter of approval from the British Columbia Adoption Branch for their specific child to come to BC before they left for Japan. The only missing piece is their permanent residence visa for their child.

Without the visas, the five families are forced to remain in Tokyo, one of the most expensive cities in the world, being drained financially and emotionally—and there is no end in sight.

These families have spent the last several weeks nurturing and bonding with the babies who would have otherwise ended up in state care. It seems cruel and callous to prevent them from coming home. What should be a joyous time of sharing a new addition to the family with friends and relatives has been inverted into a crisis situation.

There are children involved in this situation—babies all under the age of four months—and yet they are being treated as mere pieces of paper. Case files. The treatment of these five Canadian families—and their babies—seems counter to every value purported to be so important to the Canadian government.

This process had not been in the best interest of the children and I urge you to issue the visas and bring them home.


Your name and address



Crafting a Kingdom – Part 3: Rule of Law

71_cair_paravelCair Paravel wasn’t built in a day, so another week passes, and so here comes another entry in my continuing series on world building. This week, we’re discussing politics.

Sound dry? Fans of Game of Thrones will disagree! In that series, the whole plot revolves around who will rule the fictional dominion created by author George R.R. Martin.

However, even if your plot isn’t going to revolve around the political intrigue of your created world, it’s still important that you know how it operates, because, one way or the other, it will impact your characters. And if it doesn’t, you probably need to go back and do a little more building to make sure your world is more real and believable.

Some of the questions you want to ask about the political structure of your fictional world:

How is the land ruled? A singular person (king, queen, president)? Or is it by a council?

How are rulers selected? Are they born into power, or are they appointed or elected?

What are the important laws?

Are there punishments for breaking the law? If so, what?

What are the laws based on? Keeping peace? Are they meant to keep people safe (like in the Land of Oz), or to keep them in line (like in Lois Lowry’s The Giver)?

* * *

winter_woodsongCouncils or multiple rulers seem popular in fictional worlds. Narnia famously had two kings and two queens (well, after Jadis the white witch was ousted). Harry Potter’s world is run by a ministry of magic, while Hogwarts is run by a single headmaster (Dumbledore), with the students organized into four competing houses. In Kate DiCamillo’s Tale of Despereaux, there is a council of thirteen mice while in Richard Adams’s Watership Down there is a Chief Rabbit that is protected by the Owsla, traditionally a group of the physically strongest rabbits. The Star Wars universe has a council of twelve Jedi, harkening back to the tradition of King Arthur and the knights of the round table. In my Kendra Kandlestar books, there is a council of seven elders with the Eldest of the Elders holding the most prominent position. The council isn’t elected, but rather nominated, which does end up causing some problems for them (a bit more about that below).

This leads us to the important question of how people are picked or “assigned” in a fictional world. J.K. Rowling had great fun with this when it came to how students are sorted into their houses at Hogwarts. I love this doodle of Rowling’s brainstorming:



It shows she considered a variety of options. Eventually, of course, she went with the sorting hat singing a song. (You’ve got to love her doodle of the sorting hat! One thing that I’ve noticed about so many fantasy writers is that they are quite artistic, even if they aren’t illustrators. They seem to sketch and doodle their way to success.)

When it comes to creating rules for a kingdom, I always like to guide my students with the following principle: Create a set of rules that will cause your protagonist problems. If you do a good job of this, then your character will be forced to break the rules and, Voilà! Instant problem, instant plot generation.

In Tale of Despereaux, for example, there is a whole series of rules that the mice should live by, such as mice shall nibble paper, mice shall be afraid of humans, and so forth. Little Despereaux, of course, breaks them all. These rules are paralleled in the upper, human world, where the king has decreed that all rats are outlawed and soup (or anything to do with the making or eating of soup—even spoons) are banished. Because characters break the rules, they are forced to deal with consequences and repercussions that propel the plot forward.

Of course, rules can change as the plot progress. In Kendra Kandlestar, the malevolent wizard, Burdock Brown, wheedles his way onto the Council of Elders and pushes everyone else of merit out so that, soon, he’s the one in power. He ends up creating all sorts of laws that directly impact Kendra, not the least of which is sealing the magic curtain of Een (at exactly the time she needs to leave) and confiscating all wands. Eventually, Kendra’s Uncle Griffinskitch is imprisoned and Kendra and her two companions become fugitives:


 (If you ask me, Honest Oki is still cute, even when drawn to look like a villain.)

I’ve actually used this activity with many of my writing students to help them create conflict in their stories. Nothing gets a plot going like a good old act of injustice!





Here’s one more that I just have to show because it vilifies ME. (Yes, I’m often the villain in my students’ stories!)


I’ve been focusing this post on political rules, but it’s worth mentioning that this topic also implies to rules of magic. The most difficult part of writing high fantasy, in my opinion, is making sure your rules of magic make sense. Otherwise, just anything can happen at any time, and you end up with an instant remedy to any plot problem. It’s important to know the rules (and costs, if you like) for how characters can use magic.

In my Kendra Kandlestar series, only some of the Een people can use magic, and these are the ones who are trained as wizards or sorceresses. The magic is within them, but it is channeled and amplified by their wands or staffs of Eenwood. The Eenwood is a magical wood, still alive, and it grows with the user as he or she grows in magical wisdom. The Eens also have Kazah stones, which help them catch glimpses of the past (or a glimmer of the future).