Adoptees Call For Boycott of “Blue Bayou”

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 several times 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.

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Bringing a Transnational Korean American Adoptee Story to Film: In Conversation with ‘Blue Bayou’ Filmmaker Justin Chon

Writer-director Justin Chon (Antonio LeBlanc) alongside actors Sydney Kowalske (Jessie LeBlanc, left) and Alicia Vikander (Kathy LeBlanc, right). (Photo Credit: Focus Features / Blue Bayou)

Asian American filmmaker Justin Chon’s latest film – Blue Bayou – opens today in theatres nationwide.

Blue Bayou tells the story of Korean American adoptee Antonio LeBlanc as he faces a deportation order by ICE that threatens to rip apart his family and expel him from the only home he has ever known.

Earlier this week, I had a chance to sit down with writer-director Justin Chon, who also stars as Antonio in the film. The following is a transcript of our conversation. It has been edited for length and clarity.

JENN: I saw Blue Bayou over the weekend with my husband and it was incredible — truly an amazing film. So first of all, I just want to say kudos to you for making it.

As you know, there are roughly 120,000 transnational Korean adoptees in the United States, but Blue Bayou is seemingly one of the first American dramatic films to tackle this subject. Why do you think that this story — which seems so integral to the Asian American experience — is so overlooked in film and what inspired you to tell this story in Blue Bayou?

JUSTIN: I think for that reason — because it’s overlooked. I know certain adoptees aren’t going to like that I’m telling this story because I’m not an adoptee, and so I’ll never know what it’s like to grow up as an adoptee. I understand that and I honor that. But, at the same time: how long are we going to wait? When is there going to be a substantial story about an Asian American adoptee — but, specifically also a Korean American — because we all know that the idea of international adoption started in South Korea.

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Deportation Hearing Begins for Korean American Adoptee & Abuse Survivor | #KeepAdamHome

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

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.

In 1975, Crapser was adopted from Korea with his sister. He was placed with two abusive foster families over the course of his childhood in the United States, including in the home of Thomas Francis and Dolly-Jean Crapser, who were charged with domestic and sexual abuse of nine foster children — including Adam — in 1991. Neither of Adam’s foster parents completed the necessary paperwork to obtain a green card for Adam, and for most of his adulthood also refused to give him his adoption papers so that he could pursue legal immigration status for himself.

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