Dr. Craig E. Morrey
After completing his PhD in reproductive physiology (Hawaii, ’97), Dr. Craig E. Morrey relocated to Okazaki, Japan as a MONBUSHO Invited Scholar at the Japanese National Institute for Basic Biology. He immersed himself in the community by volunteering at the local orphanage, performing at schools for the disabled, and working closely with the Okazaki International Association to provide cultural exchanges with school children- activities he still enjoys today.
While pursuing his academic career at Ritsumeikan University’s Department of Science, Craig launched Izakaya Ja Nai!!, an American style restaurant and cosmopolitan gathering spot. Sponsorship of charity events, service on the Okazaki City internationalization and improved quality of life committee, and founding of the volunteer organization “Nippon Smiles” are a few of the ways Craig continues giving back to the community.
Craig’s life-long commitment to children became more personal with the births of his children Spencer and Amelia. Unfortunately, he was simultaneously confronted with the glaring need for children’s advocacy in Japan. A catastrophic accident during delivery left Spencer severely disabled and requiring 24/7 care. Whereas advanced care options for the elderly are numerous, there is virtually no support for disabled children or their parents. In fact, Craig learned pediatric specialists of any sort are in extremely short supply.
During his wife’s pregnancy with Amelia, Craig also discovered a complete lack of appreciation for traumatic stress and/ or perinatal mental health issues. Despite his pleas for professional intervention, his wife stopped providing any care for Spencer, ultimately absconding with Amelia to her family’s home in another prefecture.
Denied any information and all contact with his daughter, Craig sought assistance from Japan’s Family Courts in October, 2008. Claiming the “best interest of the children”, the courts forced Spencer to travel over 700 km with his medical equipment for proceedings, declared child abandonment an “inconclusive problem”, and denied Spencer better medical support in the US as the only condition for one visit with Amelia per month. The Hiroshima High Court has not contacted Craig since April, 2010 when he appealed the original ruling.
Unlike the medical community which largely does its best with limited resources, the judicial and political systems’ rampant disregard for children prompted Craig to become a voice for family law reform. Starting with Forever Your Father, a website dedicated to his own children, Craig soon joined forces with other parents experiencing similar issues.
Recognizing children’s rights and welfare issues receive little attention overall, Craig and Kevin Brown founded the comprehensive advocacy group Children First. As the name clearly states, their greatest hope is that children will become everyone’s top priority.