Why I Adopted My Husband: The true story of a gay couple seeking legal recognition in Japan by Yuta Yagi is one of those books that you can give the book report on: it is from 2017 when two men show the world their love by becoming father and son…. sort of. But legally, they are. When same sex marriages are illegal (in Japan), how do two men secure their basic rights, and deal with such things as inheritances and medical decisions? In an open, sometimes humorous, look at their journey, we find how two people figure out the ins and outs of love and legalities. It is straightforward and mostly fast paced. Yuta Yagi’s journey is unique and eye opening.
And that’s that. But trying to talk about the emotional aspects is much harder. And that is what this book brings out. You will have emotions about the events. Things as simple as “What do I call you now?” must be answered (a “father” does not call his son by his last name). And the emotions that are brought out because one husband is more stereotypical “male role” and one “female role.” And how their families react (Yagi is outed by his mother; his father is a staunch traditionalist) is another line altogether. Even how they decide to tell or not tell family, friends, and work was interesting. And please don’t get me started about the implications this had for me about their sex life!!
You can be pro or anti-same-sex marriage and take away from it. Pro: Look at the rigmarole they went through. Japanese culture is very strict in its traditions so to go through adoption you are really messing with that. It would be so much easier if you let these guys get married. And anti: See? They don’t HAVE to get married! There are other ways around it. Legal ways even. Yet, as Yagi says, they are not promoting one way or another, they are just trying to show you the route they took. In fact they do mention the other ways allowed to them at the time, and in many ways, that seems to me that would have been a better option. But there are a lot of issues going on and because of what they needed, adoption was the best route to go. There are legal ramifications, there are emotional aspects, there is tradition to think of. It was interesting that the couple was not ready to “out themselves” to most of their family, friends, or at work, yet, here is a book about it. This is not a How-To but a What-We-Did book with all that entails.
Why I Adopted My Husband is not for everyone, but it is probably something people need to read. It is just two people’s journey, it is also an experience in reading manga (it is set up in the traditional format), and it is a door into a culture that has a strict code of what is and is not allowed. And I did not even touch on the artwork. I will say it is traditionally manga, not a lot of details (colors I am not sure of as I had an online reader copy) and was not “my thing” but works well with the story arc, so I did enjoy them. There are a few terms (cultural references) that I was unfamiliar with, but that does not take away from things.