Adam Crapser and his daughter in 2015. (Photo credit: Gosia Wozniacka / AP)
Last Friday, filmmaker Justin Chon’s latest – Blue Bayou – opened in theatres nationwide, and I interviewed Chon as well as actor Linh-Dan Pham about the film. Shortly after the film’s release, however, members of the adoptee community took to social media to express frustration about Blue Bayou and the ways in which they feel the film fails to properly represent the adoptee experience.
Korean American adoptee and abuse survivor Adam Crapser – who was deported to South Korea five years ago and whose story I wrote about severaltimes on this site – posted a statement on social media saying that Chon reached out to him four years ago expressing interest in bringing his story to film, but that communication suddenly ceased after Chon responded. Crapser was deported in 2016 following an intense grassroots effort to stop his deportation proceedings, leading to separation of him from his wife and young children.
Crapser, now 41, was adopted from Korea at the age of 3, but quickly became the victim of physical abuse, sexual abuse and abandonment by numerous foster families. The most severe abuse came at the hands of Thomas Francis and Dolly-Jean Crapser, who were eventually charged with criminal charges of abuse, sexual assault, and neglect; the pair pled guilty and served prison time for their abuse of numerous foster children including Crapser.
As might be expected, Crapser emerged from his childhood bearing numerous scars from his childhood traumas. As a younger man, Crapser had several run-ins with the law, including a guilty plea of breaking-and-entering after he broke a window after he was kicked out by his abusive foster parents; Crapser was trying to re-enter the Crapser’s family home to retrieve his meager possessions.
As the year winds down to a close, these are the top ten political stories that had a major impact on the AANHPI community highlighting the many political issues that have defined the AANHPI community this year. Sadly, many didn’t receive much mainstream media coverage.
How many of these stories were you following this year?
Many have characterized Adam Crapser’s struggle as an immigration reform issue. To the extent that changes to immigration law that grant automatic citizenship to all transnational adoptees would protect adoptees like Adam, this story does intersect with immigration law and the immigration reform lobby. However, in my mind, Adam Crapser’s story is less about immigration reform; to me, it is mostly about adoptee rights.
For me, the calculus is simple. Adam Crapser’s fate symbolizes how we — as a country — choose to treat our adoptee brothers and sisters. Do we choose to welcome adoptees fully as members of our personal, political, and national families? Or, do we choose to reinforce the disparaging narrative that even in their adopted countries and families, adoptees still don’t quite belong?
After a month of increasing social media outrage over the plight of Adam Crapser, the Korean American adoptee and abuse survivor appeared in a US immigration court yesterday on what was also Crapser’s 40th birthday. His deportation hearing is being held in Oregon in front of immigration Judge Michael H. Bennett.