When it comes to adoption, a thorough legal review is essential

Laura E. Shapiro -

Woman playing with child on lap

Adam Crapser is a 41-year-old living in Washington, married with naturalized citizen children. Even though a United States family adopted him 37 years ago, he faces deportation to South Korea, a country where he was born but has no memories, no connection besides a birth certificate. In short, this is because his adoptive parents and their agency failed him.

Crapser’s story is complicated and ugly: after adoption, he moved to foster care, being abused along the way and compiling a criminal record. He’s not alone. It’s estimated that as many 35,000 US adoptees may not have US citizenship, including who have been deported to South Korea.

The 2000 Child Citizenship Act streamlined adoptee citizenship for children under the age of 18, but it doesn’t apply to Crapser and others who were already adults. Crapser’s criminal record is a debate for another time, though. The fact is that with his adoption he should have become a citizen. The whole situation could have been avoided by proper paperwork and better laws.

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In Crapser’s case, his adoptive parents didn’t complete their end of the bargain. The result is that a grown adult, who has only known life in the US, is being deported to a country where he doesn’t even speak the language.

Crapser is a worst-case scenario, but he’s not alone. While adoption is a stressful, expensive and time-consuming process, it’s not failsafe. Adoption is long and confusing, and you want to make sure it’s done absolutely right.

Don’t trust the agency

Some adoption agencies are focused on the financial end of the agreement, meaning there is little follow-through once a child has been placed with new parents in a new country. In Crapser’s case, that meant no verification that his parents upheld their end of the agreement, which they did not. Even a simple phone call or email reminder may have prevented such an outcome.

To guarantee your child’s future, adoption needs to start and end with a family law expert who will double and triple check documentation and paperwork, confirming validity and adherence to the law.

Adoption is a complicated process anywhere, but there are extra steps when crossing borders. Sorting out ambiguity and citizenship are essential.

Laura E. Shapiro

Laura Shapiro is an award-winning Family Law Attorney with 40+ years of experience. Laura practices Family Law exclusively with her primary focus being divorce and child custody matters.

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