On November 25, Tenrikyo Federation for Foster Parents held a convention commemorating its 20th anniversary, which drew about 220 members.
Tenrikyo–at the level of local churches in particular–had been taking an active role in fostering children even before a national system for foster parents was instituted in 1948. This is partly because we are taught in the Anecdotes of Oyasama, the Foundress of Tenrikyo, “There is no greater salvation than to care for and raise another person’s child.” (No. 86, “Great Salvation”)
In an effort to promote a foster parenting system, Tenrikyo Federation for Foster Parents was founded in 1981 as the first religious federation for foster parents in Japan. Since then, the federation has hosted a number of seminars and study meetings in the Home of the Parent, dioceses, and local districts.
At the convention, following a speech given by Federation Chairperson Nobuhiko Otake, President Sadao Atsumi of National Foster Parent Association of Japan delivered an address. He has been involved with the federation since its establishment. In his address, he said that what is distinctive about Tenrikyo foster parents is that their activities are based on the teaching that all human beings are brothers and sisters.
Referring to the decreasing numbers of registered foster parents in Japan, he expressed his wish that members of the federation would continue their effort in fostering other people’s children as their own, so that the foster parenting system could be maintained for the future.
Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi then gave a speech, in which he explained that the salvation referred to in Instruction Two is not a temporary one. “I should like you to engage in foster parenting with the firm conviction that such activities will lead to true salvation,” he encouraged the audience.
Ms. Mieko Iwasaki, board of trustees member of the Association for the Advancement of Family Care, Inc., delivered a commemorative lecture. Based on her long experience, she pointed out that a child needs a continuous and stable relationship with adults in order to develop his/her selfhood. “The parent of the child,” said she, “is the one who fulfills that task.” She went on to explain how a foster parent and a foster child could build trust between them.
This was followed by a panel discussion in which panelists discussed such issues as “Foster Children and Life of Faith,” “To Raise Foster Children along with Biological Children,” and “Attitude toward Foster Children who Get into Trouble.”