Deported Adoptee Sues Adoption Agency, Korean Government for Negligence

Korean adoptee Adam Crapser poses with daughter, Christal, 1, in the family’s living room in Vancouver, Wash., on March 19, 2015. Crapser is now suing the Korean government and adoption agency Holt Children’s Services for negligence after being deported back to Korea because his adoptive parents never finalized his American citizenship on his behalf. (AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka)

Korean-born Adam Crapser came to Michigan at age 3, adopted by an American family. After being forced back to his native South Korea through deportation proceedings, he’s now suing the government and the adoption agency that started him down a tumultuous path.

Crapser is suing the government of South Korea and Holt Children’s Services, which facilitated his adoption, for negligence on his behalf and the thousands of other children adopted overseas. Crapser is seeking $177,000, or 200 million won. Crapser told the Associated Press that “the amount of money is less important than forcing officials from Holt and the government into a courtroom to face questions of accountability.”

“They never followed up to ensure that the adoptive parents finalized our naturalization,” Crapser said, in a video published by the Associated Press this week. “They never followed up to make sure we were actually being taken care of. They never followed up when we basically got sent to the pound, when we got put into foster care.”

Crapser’s first adoptive parents were abusive and ended up terminating his adoption and placing him in the foster care system. Another set of adoptive parents would do the same and neither set of parents ever took care of the necessary paperwork to complete his American citizenship.

After a series of run-ins with the law, Crapser was deported in 2016, a problem for international adoptees who were adopted prior to the 2000 Child Citizenship Act if their parents never completed the citizenship process for their children.

He is now living in South Korea, separated from his wife and children, who still live in the United States.

Crapser is one of many adoptees who have been deported. The Adoptee Rights Campaign estimates more than 30,000 adoptees are vulnerable to deportation because their citizenship was never completed by their American adoptive parents.

For the past four years, the campaign has brought the Adoptee Citizenship Act to Congress during a time of much attention to immigration issues.

“There’s a big misconception here, even amongst Americans, there’s a big misconception that I was in America illegally,” Crapser said in the AP video. “I was never in America illegally. I was taken there as a … child.”

The Adoptee Citizenship Act was introduced again last year, but failed to pass. Advocates are hoping a clean bill will be re-introduced soon and with Democrat leadership in the House it may gain traction during this legislative session.

Note: This article was updated on Monday, January 28.

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Kim Phagan-Hansel
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