The US Immigration System is Failing a Crucial Voice: International Adoptees

An infographic by Adoptees for Justice on the Adoptee Citizenship Act. (Photo credit: Adoptees for Justice)

By Guest Contributor: Olivia Zalecki

It is 2 am and, like the reasonable young person I am, I’ve traded sleep for the almost too close for comfort act of scrolling aimlessly through my Instagram page. Dispersed between the typical photos of food and friends, I came across a post by an adoption organization. The post featured an image of a young Chinese child. My thumb hovered over the image. In the photo the sweet child was captured giggling in the arms of a white volunteer. The caption underneath read, “Help them find their loving forever family.”

I have seen images like this before. The messaging was hardly anything new. As a Chinese adoptee, I am well aware of the pervasiveness of such messaging.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM). This time of year my feed becomes saturated with adoption-related posts like the one mentioned. There is a crucial distinction to be made between adoption-related and adoptee-created posts. The former, in my experience, usually involves organizations promoting adoption as a “public good” and many adoptive parents virtue-signaling how adopting their child from [insert any foreign nation here] saved them.

However, the non-adopted community often doesn’t realize that these posts don’t tell the whole story. Adoption does not always come with a “forever family” or a happily ever after.

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Korean American Adoptee to be Deported after Four Decades in United States

Adam Crapser and his family. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka)
Adam Crapser and his family. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka)

I first posted about this story back in March 2015, when the AAPI community first began organizing on behalf of Adam Crapser and all adult intercountry adoptees, many of whom are Asian.

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.

Nearly forty years later, Crapser has made an effort to turn his life around. Yet, with a recent immigration judge’s ruling to deny him deportation relief, Adam Crapser now faces deportation to a country he has never known.

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