A Korean-American adoptee will soon be deported to South Korea, after realizing he was not a U.S. citizen despite living in the country for almost 38 years.
Adam Crasper, now 41, attempted to apply for a green card after realizing his adoptive parents never completed his citizenship process. Instead, he received a deportation order due to his criminal record in the U.S., NPR reports.
Crasper was adopted from South Korea with his sister at the age of 3, by neglectful parents who abandoned the children seven years later. The foster care system separated the siblings into different homes when Crasper was 10, placing the boy with parents who would be convicted in 1991 of abuse.
Following his unstable upbringing, Crasper was convicted of several crimes -- including a burglary of the second family’s home, in which he tried to retrieve his adoption papers, rubber shoes and Korean Bible from his abusive parents.
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These crimes would prove devastating to Crasper in 2016, when he was given deportation orders for his criminal record after he applied for a green card.
"If you don't take into account the fact that he was adopted and abandoned and abused and homeless, then maybe [deporting someone for crimes he committed] would make sense to you,” Crasper’s attorney Lori Walls told CNN, arguing Crasper served out sentences for the crimes he committed and has sought psychological treatment for post-traumatic stress. “But it doesn't make sense if you back out just a little and look at the context."
Crasper is now preparing to be sent back to South Korea, leaving behind his wife and two daughters. According to NPR, he speaks no Korean.
Crasper’s birth mother, Kwon Pil-ju, will be waiting for him in Korea, and is studying English so she can communicate with her son, The Seattle Times reports.
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“I have so much to tell him, especially how sorry I am,” she said through an interpreter. “But I am at a loss, because I don’t know English and he can’t speak Korean.”
Kwon, who was paralyzed at a young age by an acupuncture accident, said she gave Crasper and his sister up after their father left and she could no longer provide for them.
Kwon said she had always hoped the children had found a better life in the U.S., and grieved for Crasper after hearing his story.
"I have never imagined that he was having this hard life of his," she said. "I should have kept him even if we starved together. What I did was an unforgivable sin."
The U.S. government passed a law in 2000 to make children adopted into the U.S. automatic citizens, but the law did not apply retroactively to adults above the age of 18 at the time, according to KCPQ.
The Adoptee Rights Campaign has petitioned Congress to grant citizenship to adult adoptees, such as Crasper, left out by the law, but it’s too late for Crasper, who will be deported the weekend of Nov. 19.
“I guess in a sense the good thing is that I am a citizen of Korea so when I go back I will already be a citizen of some country,” Crasper told The New York Times. “I guess that’s where I belong.”