Adam Crapser was just 3-years-old when he was adopted by American parents and flown from South Korea to the United States only to be deported back to his birthplace thirty-eight years later.
Weeks before he made his trip to South Korea on Thursday, the 41-year-old immigrant was kept in a Washington detention facility while the federal government prepared his travel papers, according to the Associated Press.
During this period, his birth mother studied to learn English so that she would be able to communicate to his son and explain herself when he finally arrives, reported The New York Times.
For Crapser, his native country of South Korea is a completely foreign land and he has returned to it without any knowledge of its culture or language.
His adoptive parents’ failure to complete his citizenship process, even though he was told that they did, is largely responsible for Crapser’s dilemma.
Along with his sister, he was given up to the foster care system where Crapser would later end up with abusive parents.
Growing up in an unstable upbringing caused Crapser to engage himself in a number of petty crimes — including the burglary of his former home to retrieve some personal belongings.
His decision to apply for a Green Card in his adulthood would unearth his past convictions, raising a red flag for immigration authorities. Soon after, the federal government issued his deportation order.
After learning his son’s fate, partially-paralyzed Kwon Pil-ju began preparing for his arrival by learning his language and adapting to the types of food she will prepare for him.
In an interview with The New York Times, Kwon explained that she was deserted by her husband. Unable to provide for the children, she ended up giving one child to a childless family and sending Crapser and his sister to an orphanage.
“I have never imagined that he was having this hard life of his,” she said crying. “I should have kept him even if we starved together. What I did was an unforgivable sin.”
There are still thousands of other adoptees currently in the U.S. who lack citizenship and can be put up for deportation at any moment.
A law, passed in 2000, granted citizenship to children adopted by U.S. citizens. The problem however, is that the law is not retroactive, covering only children under 18 and future adoptees.
The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2015 filed in November last year seeks to correct this. Filed during the 114th Congress by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the bill is seeking to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to “grant automatic citizenship to all qualifying children adopted by a U.S. citizen parent, regardless of the date on which the adoption was finalized.”