How Kumamoto hospital 'baby hatch' is doing after 13 years


A mother bids farewell to her child: “Be happy, okay?”

The child was a day old.

It couldn’t be helped. Or maybe it could have been. There were various reasons why “Rie” (a pseudonym) felt she couldn’t raise her newborn daughter. They parted company at a venue called Konotori no Yurikago (Storks’ Cradle), in a corner of Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto. It’s a “baby hatch,” where mothers can leave – anonymously –their infants, and be more or less assured that quality care will be arranged.

Journalist Nobuyo Morimoto, who wrote a book on the subject, surveys cases and discusses the relevant issues for Josei Seven (July 16).

Storks’ Cradle opened in 2007. As of this past March it had received altogether 155 infants – most less than a month old but a few (eight as of December 2019) more than a year old.

Rie’s daughter would now be 10. Rie seems eager to talk. She arrives at her rendezvous with Morimoto accompanied by two nursery-school-age sons – who may one day be surprised to learn they have an older sister. The two boys are a handful. Morimoto smiles. She understands. She has two boys herself.

Rie had been married five years. She’d wanted children but had been unable to conceive. Then, separated from her husband, living with her mother, she suddenly found herself pregnant. At first she was happy. Then anxiety set in. The child was not her husband’s. She didn’t know what to do.

Saying nothing to her mother or anyone else, she simply let things take their course. She hid her swelling belly under baggy clothes. She consulted no doctors. “I’ll raise the child,” she thought; but as her term drew near, practical difficulties intervened. Money was one, shame another.

A TV program she saw featured Konotori no Yurikago. Here was a new possibility. She would keep it in mind. Meanwhile, she made up her mind to give birth at home, unassisted. It’s what women did in the old days. Was she less tough than they?

The baby was born at 1 p.m. in the bathroom of her mother’s house. The pain was terrible, but she bore it. The anxiety was worse. What now? What of the child’s future? She had no idea. She was at sea. She couldn’t think.

Her mother came home from work at 3 p.m. “Wait,” she said – and left the house, returning shortly afterwards with diapers, baby formula and other necessities. “I had a feeling all along,” said the older woman. “I kept wondering, ‘When is she going to tell me?’”

The next day they drove (we’re not told from where) to Jikei Hospital. “Be happy, okay?” Rie turned to leave. “Wait.” She was surprised. She hadn’t expected to be confronted by hospital staff.

She needn’t provide any information she didn’t want to, she was told – but if she didn’t, she might regret it later. Think it over, the staffers said. Some time in the future she might want to make contact; or the child might want to make contact with her.

Morimoto, in her Josei Seven report, mentions a boy in his early teens who was similarly left at the baby hatch. He was adopted into a loving family, and is happy and grateful – “but I do want to know my real parents,” he says. “What was my father like? What was my mother like?” It’s tormenting to have no idea.

The right to know is universally recognized, and everything possible is done to fulfill it – but there are risks, experts point out. Unforeseeable emotional wrenches aside, there is also the fact that some parents may have been potential child abusers. Sometimes it’s best to leave well enough alone.

Rie knows only this about her daughter’s fate: She was adopted at six months by one family, and then later by another one, where she is now growing up apparently happily, “one of the family.”

Does Rie want to see her? “Of course,” she says, “I feel I do, but when I  think of her relationship with her adoptive family… I don’t know… maybe I shouldn’t.”

But a time may come when she will change her mind. Or maybe the child will seek her out. “If she wants to meet me – yes, I’d want to meet her. If she wants to meet me…”

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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She abandons her own kid and now she wants to see her? Selfish woman!

-9 ( +2 / -11 )


Selfish would have to terminate pregnancy or far worse kill the baby without anyone knowing.

She made a natural choice to leave her baby when she could not do it herself.

So easy to criticize women when so little is exisiting in Japan to help them and that shame is what awaits them.

What is wrong if baby is raised like any normal child in a normal family ?

In a greying/dying population like Japan, supporting babies/mothers should be #1.

4 ( +7 / -3 )


I don’t know if you realize it or not but some people, when they separate from children, friends, or relatives, often want to see those people again. It’s a fairly common feeling.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

@ Jonathan Prin

No, don't make excuses with your virtue-signaling!

This lady got her brains F'ed out and got pregnant, but because it was inconvenient, she threw it away.

-12 ( +0 / -12 )

She made a natural choice to leave her baby when she could not do it herself.

And then she went on to have two more kids. How do you think her daughter would feel if she new that her mother abandoned her, but raised two boys. No...she gave up her chance. She needs to leave the girl alone to live hew own life...that is...unless the girl seeks her out.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

When it comes to abortion issues, Japan is still very conservative and there is a lot stigma surrounding the issue.

Buddhist/Shinto beliefs of the sanctity of all life, and responsibility and shame culture are deep rooted in society.

In an ideal world, no birth would be unplanned and all parents would care for their children.

However, such a reality is impossible, so these baby hatches are necessary.

3 ( +3 / -0 )


It happens I discovered after nearly 50 years I had a half-brother that my mother had to give for adoption because of social pressure.

He was adopted, had and is having a nice life and was very happy, to say the least, to find back his Mom who explained to him why she did it. There is always a reason and no one shall judge since baby's health is taken care for in that case in a hatch at some dedicated location.

Don't judge people bad because I assume people could judge you bad for many reasons if we look in your perfect life...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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