SALEM, Ore. — A Vancouver man flown to the U.S. from South Korea 37 years ago and adopted by an American couple at age 3 has been ordered deported back to a country that is completely alien to him.
“It is heartbreaking news,” said Dae Joong “DJ” Yoon, executive director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, who had been in contact with Adam Crapser of Vancouver. Crapser remains confined in an immigration detention center in Tacoma pending his deportation.
Crapser waived an appeal during the hearing Monday because he is desperate to get out of detention, his attorney, Lori Walls, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
He was so desperate that he was even willing to go to a country where he does not speak the language or know the culture.
“I’m sure he doesn’t have any idea what he can do in Korea,” Yoon said in a phone interview from his group’s offices in Annandale, Va.
Crapser’s plight mirrors those of thousands of others who were brought to the U.S. but whose adoptive parents didn’t secure green cards or U.S. citizenship for them. Yoon’s group says an estimated 35,000 intercountry adoptees lack U.S. citizenship. It is backing legislation in Congress to address that.
Yoon said arrangements are being made for Crapser to get documents to enable him to fly to South Korea.
Seven years after Crapser and his older sister were adopted, their parents abandoned them. The foster care system separated Crapser, 10 at the time, from his sister.
The boy was housed at several foster and group homes. When Crapser was 12, he moved in with Thomas and Dolly Crapser, their biological son, two other adoptees and several foster children. There, he was physically abused, Crapser has said. In 1991, the couple was arrested on charges of physical child abuse, sexual abuse and rape. They denied the charges. Thomas Crapser’s sentence included 90 days in jail, and his wife’s three years of probation.
Federal immigration officials say they became aware of Adam Crapser after he applied to renew his green card two years ago: his criminal convictions, ranging from burglary to assault, made him potentially deportable under immigration law. Crapser got into trouble with the law after he broke into his parents’ home — it was, he said, to retrieve the Korean Bible and rubber shoes that came with him from the orphanage — and later it was for stealing cars and assaulting a roommate.
‘I’m not garbage’
“I’ve been here my whole life,” Crapser said after an April 2015 hearing. “I take very seriously being an American. I’m responsible for my actions and I’ve done my time. Please have some leniency on me. Give me a chance. I’m not garbage.”
Walls said Crapser will be deported as soon as Immigration and Customs Enforcement makes the necessary arrangements.
“Adam, his family, and advocates are heartbroken at the outcome,” Walls said.
Advocates for international adoptions and for the Asian-American community have championed Crapser’s cause and pressed for a fix to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, which simplified international legal adoptions so that the children now automatically become naturalized citizens. But the law, which took effect in February 2001, was retroactive for anybody 18 years or younger at that time; Crapser was already 26 years old then.