Guest Post: Failing International Adoptees

Editor’s Note: This week we welcome another guest blog post by Marki Schillinger. Marki writes about a current event involving a transracial international adoptee and failures of our adoption systems and government to embrace adoptees. Broadening our views and being made aware of different experiences and lives is an important of racial equity work. Today we share a perspective from the international transracial adoption community.

Please also take a moment to vote. This is the last Fakequity blog post before the 2016 presidential election. Every election is important, but this one is really important. We won’t tell you who and what to vote for, but we will give you a virtual high five or fakequity onion (an old joke for longtime folllowers) for voting. -Erin, fakequity editor


Imagine a three-year-old boy. Maybe it’s your own child, a neighbor boy, or your nephew. Can you picture him? Maybe he has dark curly hair, beautiful eyelashes, or that little crooked smile. Is he speaking yet? What are his favorite words? Does he know the A-B-C song? Isn’t it cute, the way he sings it, but misses some of the letters? Take a moment to picture that child you know, and hold him in your mind. Now imagine that everyone is telling the mother or caretakers of that child that sending him overseas will improve his life. He will have opportunities not available to him here. The child is moved to a foreign country to live with a new mother, father, and family.

The boy is being adopted. The adoption agency has arranged for him to travel and live with his new family in a foreign country. The new family makes promises to embrace the boy and raise him as their own with all the rights, responsibilities, and privileges of that country. The adoption agency accepts money to help the new adoptive parents make the boy their son. Maybe he’s packed his favorite toy, bundled in a jacket, and you sneak a few of his favorite crackers into a bag for him. You give him his favorite book and tuck a picture of the two of you inside. You hope and pray he doesn’t forget you. In the new country, the little boy tries to communicate with his new family. The new family speaks a different language and doesn’t understand what he is asking. The boy starts to cry. The boy cries harder, because the people all around him look so different, they don’t look like the people back home. The new mother offers the boy something to eat, hoping he will calm down. The boy cries even harder, because it doesn’t look like food, it doesn’t smell familiar, and he wants to go home. Home to a country now lost to him. The boy’s experience is familiar for many transnational adoptees.

Adam Crasper, a 40-year old Korean Adoptee who is pending deportation back to South Korea, a country he has not called home since being adopted at three. Adam was adopted from South Korea with his older sister. His first American family gave up, and returned Adam and his sister to foster care when Adam was 10 years old. His parents and American systems failed to naturalize Adam and make him an American citizen. After bouncing around several foster homes, at age 12 Adam and his sister were separated and Adam was adopted by his second American family, Dolly and Thomas Crasper. Adam joined several kids already in the Crasper’s care, as many as 10 other kids at one time. However, at the age of 16, it Adam was kicked out of the Crasper home and alleged the Craspers abused him. News articles report Dolly and Thomas Crasper were arrested for physical and sexual abuse, and rape. The Craspers also failed to ensure Adam was naturalized as an American citizen. After being kicked out of the Crasper home, Adam tried to survive, but either did not have the skills and/or made poor decisions and was convicted of crimes including burglary and assault.

Later, as an adult who had put his criminal past behind him, Adam found that he did not have American citizenship. He tried to start the process by applying for a Green Card. However, his attempts were cut short, when Federal Authorities realized Adam was not an American Citizen and based on his criminal history, he would be deported back to South Korea, the Country he had not called home since the age of three.

Adam was legally bought and paid for by American parents so he could be raised here in the USA as their son. Adam was forced to migrate to the USA. This was not Adam’s decision.  Adults made this decision and Adam’s life was radically altered. Adam’s American parents, likely white and definitely not Korean, made promises. They promised to raise Adam as an American with all the benefits and responsibilities of an American citizen. Not only did they fail, but I don’t see that they have taken any responsibility for this failure.  Our judicial system has given them a pass. They bear no legal responsibility, nor consequences for their failure to protect Adam from deportation.

Adam’s second American family, likely required Adam to live up to American standards and assimilate into their American lifestyle. Their failures are attached to Adam as he sits without American citizenship awaiting deportation. They added to the complicated emotional toll that Adam already faced having lost his family in Korea, rejected from his first adoptive home, and separation from his only biological relative, his older sister. Adam was made responsible for this heavy emotional toll, furthermore, the Crasper’s do not appear to bear any responsibility for Adam’s failure to gain citizenship.

I wonder, is this the American life that South Korea envisioned when they promoted the adoption? As Adam faces deportation, are adoption agencies bearing any responsibility for their failures to ensure safe and competent adoption placements? Adam appears the sole recipient of consequences related to failures of the adults in his life to help him gain and/or ensure he gained American Citizenship.

Yes, Adam broke the law and yes he owes a debt to society. Those are his responsibilities. However, if the adults in his life had met their responsibilities he would pay his debt and move forward rather than now face deportation to a country he was taken from once before. In our racial equity work, we must think about the potential consequences of our actions or inactions. We should think about those who need a voice and work to fix systems to ensure harm isn’t done.

Our American adoption system failed Adam and other international adoptees of color. I don’t want to fail Adam. I want my voice heard – I want Adam and countless other transnational adoptees, who do not have citizenship, to know that I support them and know they are American citizens who deserve those rights and responsibilities. Please join me in supporting the Adoptee Citizenship Act (ACA), which will bestow citizenship to countless adoptees who, like Adam, had adults fail to ensure they received it after adopting them. Please sign the Adoptee Citizenship Act postcard by November 21, 2016 to add your voice to protecting international adoptees.

Written by Marki Schillinger.
Marki is a Korean Adoptee who grew up in the fabulous Pacific Northwest. She is fan of most sports, a WNBA season ticket-holder– Go Storm!, and works in public service in order to support her bike-touring adventures.