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A Journey of Compassion and Advocacy: Glenn Wakai's Adoption Story


On this week's Original Origins podcast episode, I had the opportunity to interview Hawaii State Senator, Glenn Wakai. This blog post is a summary of his inspiring adoption story. Glenn Wakai is a public servant, politician, and advocate who has used his own life experiences to drive positive change in adoption policies and child welfare programs. Through a candid conversation between Glenn and interviewer Shaylah Nichols, we uncover the remarkable journey that led Glenn from his early days in Japan to his current role as a dedicated advocate for adoptees and foster children.


Glenn's adoption journey began in 1967 when he was born as Mitsuru Shimabukuro in Tokyo, Japan. His birth mother, only 15 years old at the time, made the difficult decision to give him up for adoption due to her inability to provide the care he needed. Glenn's life took a transformative turn when he was adopted by a loving Hawaiian family, the Wakais. At just one and a half years old, Glenn was brought to Hawaii, where he grew up in a supportive and nurturing environment.


Glenn's life took him down various paths, including a successful career in broadcast journalism, but he eventually found his calling in public service and advocacy. He realized that he wanted to be part of creating positive change for the community, rather than just reporting on it. This realization marked the beginning of his journey into politics, where he has served as a state lawmaker in Hawaii for over two decades.


Glenn's passion for child welfare and adoption stems from his own experiences. He became an advocate for fostering a better environment for neglected and orphaned children in Japan, a cause that was deeply personal to him. Through his work with the Japanese diet members, Glenn contributed to a significant policy change in Japan, where the emphasis shifted from orphanages to foster care, giving children a chance for better lives. Glenn's dedication to child welfare reflects his belief in providing every child with the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their circumstances.


In 2014, a life-changing event occurred when Glenn's adoptive parents passed away. His wife, a Japanese national, embarked on a journey to reunite Glenn with his birth family. This led to a heartwarming reunion with his biological mother, who still resides in Okinawa, Japan. This reunion further fueled Glenn's commitment to advocating for children's rights and better circumstances for those in need.


Glenn's perspective on adoption is one of gratitude and positivity. He emphasizes that being adopted is a strength, a chance for a better life, and an opportunity to make a positive impact on the world. He encourages adoptees to recognize their potential and to approach life with resilience and compassion, using their experiences to inspire change and growth.


Glenn commends those considering adoption, acknowledging the selflessness and love it takes to embrace a child who isn't biologically theirs. He advises adoptive parents to see their role as one of nurturing and shaping, comparing children to diamonds that can be polished into gems with the right care and attention.


Glenn's adoption story is one of triumph over adversity and the power of compassion. His journey not only reshaped his own life but also inspired him to create positive change for countless others. Glenn's mission is to ensure that his story isn't just a solitary happy ending; he strives to bring happiness and hope to more children like himself through advocacy and support.


Glenn Wakai's adoption journey is a testament to the transformative power of love, compassion, and advocacy. His experiences, from his early adoption to his work in politics and child welfare, showcase the potential for positive change when individuals use their stories to inspire action. Glenn's unwavering dedication to fostering a brighter future for adoptees and children in need serves as an example of how personal experiences can drive meaningful transformation on a larger scale.

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