International Adoptees Fear Deportation

On estimate, 30,000 adoptees never became U.S. citizens.

Ashley Foster July 06, 2017
article image

Until the Child Citizenship Act of 2001, adoption and immigration were two separate legal issues. Once an international adoption was complete, the parents had to apply for U.S. citizenship for the child. In many cases, the parents were unaware of this or couldn’t afford to pay the attorney extra to handle the immigration process. Every day new adoptees are learning that they are not American citizens. Their status is revealed to them when they apply for a passport, driver’s license, or government benefits. On estimate, 30,000 adoptees lack citizenship to this country. Those adoptees, especially those with criminal records, are at risk for deportation to the country they were born in. Such cases can face tragic endings.

In 1983, a Philadelphia couple adopted an eight-year-old boy, Phillip Clay, from the Eunpyeong Orphanage in South Korea. The parents failed to make sure the child became a U.S. citizen. As an adult he suffered an addiction to crack cocaine, depression, and anxiety. He had a lengthy criminal career. Among his crimes were drug charges, shoplifting, robbery, and assault of a police officer. He was convicted in 18 criminal cases, 9 of them resulting in jail time. He attended a court ordered mental illness and drug treatment facility twice. In 2010, he had 13 active parole cases in a single week and was hospitilized for depression. In 2012, due to his undocumented status and his criminal record, he was deported to Korea. He arrived there unable to speak the language. He had no family, friends, or resources of any kind. On May 21 he jumped to his death from a 14th story apartment in Ilsan. The adoptee community rallied behind his case feeling as though the system and country had failed him. Vigils were held in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

In a similar situation, Adam Crapser knows what it’s like to be deported from the only country he’s ever known. At age three he was adopted from Korea by a family living in Washington. He was shocked to find out as an adult that he was not a legal citizen. Wanting to correct the mistake quickly, he applied for citizenship. He had an old criminal record with convictions for assault, burglary, and weapons possession. He had since rehabilitated and was living as a productive member of society. But because of that record, he was deported to Korea, where he still resides.

It is recommended that all international adoptees born before 2001 look into their immigration status.

Read the original story here!

author image

Ashley Foster

Ashley Foster is a freelance writer. She is a wife and mother of two currently residing in Florida. She loves taking trips to the beach with her husband and sons. As an infant, she was placed with a couple in a closed adoption. Ashley was raised with two sisters who were also adopted. In 2016, she was reunited with her biological family. She advocates for adoptees' rights and DNA testing for those who are searching for family. Above all, she is thankful that she was given life. You can read her blog at

Want to contact an adoption professional?

Love this? Want more?

Claim Your FREE Adoption Summit Ticket!

The #1 adoption website is hosting the largest, FREE virtual adoption summit. Come listen to 50+ adoption experts share their knowledge and insights.

Members of the adoption community are invited to watch the virtual summit for FREE on September 23-27, 2019, or for a small fee, you can purchase an All-Access Pass to get access to the summit videos for 12 months along with a variety of other benefits.

Get Your Free Ticket