Apparently 90 percent of all adoptions in Japan are for men between the ages of 20 and 30 years of age... although, ya poor orphan buggers, even then the majority aren't for real orphans.
Why do most Japanese adoptions tend to be for adult men?
It has nothing to do with families wanting to avoid the 'terrible twos' or puberty or even having to pay for university.
Instead, these adult adoptions are done as a means to extend the family line. Really.
If a family-run business in Japan lacks a male heir to ensure the family business will survive, an heir can and will be adopted into the family.
It doesn't even have to be about keeping a family-business alive… it can also be about keeping a family surname alive.
It makes you wonder why there aren't adoptions done when kids are younger… but see my reasons above.
I do know that in instances where the family has only daughters, when one gets married, that husband of hers might be asked to change his surname to theirs… or he could simply be adopted himself.
The adopted son-in-law is now a mukoyōshi ((婿養子), an adopted husband.
I know someone who did that…. it's called yōshi-engumi, and while I thought it strange for about 10 seconds, it actually made sense to me.
For the Mukoyōshi, the adopted husband is made the head of the family business (no Japanese family in its right mind would ever allow a woman to take over the business - that was sarcasm, by the way).
For the regular type of adult adoption… When an adult is adopted into a family in Japan through regular adoption (yôshi engumi), they:
- inherit the adoptive family’s name;
- gain an inheritance;
- take on the adoptive family’s ancestors.
However, if the adopting family is childless, they can adopt up to two children.
The adopted must be at least 15-years-old, and must be at least one day younger than the adoptive parents.
Why do people procreate on purpose? To further their genetic lineage? That's probably the scientific reason why. So how is what's done here any different? It's genetics plus a family name.
Why do we see so many kids with hyphenated names? Women are no longer feeling as traditional as in the old days, and maintain their family name after the wedding. I know plenty of people like that, too… my wife, for example. Our son, however, only has my name as I'm the only one in my family, it seems, to carry on that family name, while my wife's brother (and son) do that.
The adoption of a male heir thing in Japan is actually a centuries-old tradition, beginning, it is thought, around the 13th century.
It was, however, done quite often during the Edo period (1600-1868) as samurai attempted to strengthen their own societal position… but this was not done with adults, but rather children.
Nowadays, Japan does have one of the highest adoption rates in the world, with some 81,000 adoptions done in 2011.
The adoption rates to procure an adult male heir are, indeed 98 per cent of all adoptions in 2004. But, after a bit of research, it turns out that these adoptions were for both adult and children… but still, it was found that 90 per cent of the 81,000 adoptees in Japan in 2011 were adult males between the ages of 20 to 30.
Anyways… while I made light of it, orphans in Japan aren't really being clamored for… and certainly not if they are female.