Judo-Loving Couple Navigates Parenthood and Partnership in a Country That Doesn’t Recognize Their Marriage, Yet Finds Joy and Acceptance in Tokyo’s Embrace

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In the hearts of Tokyo, amidst the bustling life that characterizes one of the world’s largest cities, lies the touching story of Carey Finn and Ali Finn, a couple bound not just by their love for each other but also by their shared passion for judo. This sports-centric tale goes beyond the mats and into the complex, rewarding journey of building a family under unique circumstances. Despite facing societal and legal hurdles in a country where their marriage isn’t recognized, the Finn couple’s story is one of perseverance, love, and the universal language of sports, shedding light on their life in Tokyo with their two children, each born to one of them.

Carey and Ali’s story begins in Tokyo, a city that played the cupid in their romance. Both judo enthusiasts from their childhood days, their paths crossed in a manner that seems almost destined.

The couple’s decision to each give birth to one of their children added a beautiful symmetry to their family, tying them together in an even more profound way. The journey to parenthood involved finding a donor, a step they approached with the same determination and strength they likely exhibit on the judo mat.

What initially drew Finn to Japan was her fascination with judo, a passion so strong it led her to relocate to Japan in her early 20s through the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme as an English teacher. This initial adventure set the stage for the rest of her life’s journey, intertwining her love for judo, Japan, and eventually, her wife, Ali, in an inseparable bond.

Building a family, however, came with its set of challenges, especially in a country where same-sex marriage remains unrecognized. The route to parenthood was fraught with difficulties, from navigating the complexities of fertility treatments as a same-sex couple to the exacerbated strain of strict border closures during the pandemic. Despite these obstacles, the couple’s resilience shone through, culminating in the birth of their daughter and son, each parent experiencing the bliss of motherhood.

The journey was made slightly easier by the acceptance from their medical team, even if the Japanese legal system currently recognizes each woman as a single mother on their children’s birth certificates. This dichotomy between personal acceptance and legal acknowledgment underlines the broader societal and legislative changes still needed.

Tokyo has proven to be an exceptional place for the Finns to raise their family, characterized by its top-notch healthcare system, emphasis on safety, public daycare options, and affordable childcare fees. While the future remains uncertain regarding their stay in Japan, the couple cherishes the kindness they’ve seen and the positive effects of the Japanese culture and society on their family life.

At the core of their story is judo — not just as a sport but as a significant element of their family’s identity and values. Finn’s gratitude towards Japan and its influence on her family is palpable, embodying the hope to continue nurturing their children’s interest in judo, whether in Japan or elsewhere. This story, set against the backdrop of Tokyo’s vibrant life, is a testament to love, the universal appeal of sports, and the beauty of forging a family against the odds.

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