Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees is dedicated to Ethiopian adoptees like Hanna Williams who died at the hands of their adoptive parents, as well as to Ethiopian adoptees who died by suicide: they include Amanuel Kildea, Ashkenafi Jitka Lom, Fisseha Samuel, Gabe Proctor, Kaleab Schmidt, Tadesse Söhl, Mekbul Timmer, Seid Visin, and all those who have left us too soon. The book also has an essay by Mike Davis, a deported Ethiopian adoptee,
May they rest in power and in peace. May their memories be eternal; may their memories be a blessing. May their friends and families find peace and healing as well.
“In January 2019, Korean adoptee Adam Crapser filed a petition against the Korean government and Holt Children’s Services Inc. for allegedly violating his rights during his adoption process. ‘Although the plaintiff’s story garnered worldwide media attention, his lawsuit represents a historic legal first..this petition is the first and only attempt by an inter-country adoptee to hold the Korean government accountable for failing to uphold its duty in such an adoption.'”
Lee Kyeung-eun, the director of Human Rights Beyond Borders), wrote in The Korea Times article “Adam Crapser vs. The Republic of Korea,” that “This petition filed by Shin Song-hyuk (better known as Adam Crapser) is the first and only attempt by an inter-country adoptee to hold the Korean government accountable for failing to uphold its duty in such an adoption.”
Kyeung-eun cites several “Alleged illegal acts of Republic of Korea” as well as “Alleged illegal acts of Holt Children’s Services Inc,” and argues that “The plaintiff (Crapser) has suffered the following rights violations: the right to know and preserve his true identity due to the fraudulent falsification of his orphan registration (a birth registration reserved for children without their parents’ information); damages from physical, mental and emotional abuse inflicted in the course of the adoption, the dissolution of the adoption and the consequential multiple moves to other homes and the effects of those events; violation of the right to acquire and have the nationality of his adoptive country; violation of personality rights and the right to pursue happiness due to deportation.”
After being brought to the United States for adoption at 3 years old, Crapser was horribly abused and abandoned by two adoptive families. He got into legal trouble, and faced deportation because he could not prove his US citizenship.
I wrote about Adam’s deportation for Slate. I’ve been writing about the tragedy of adoptee deportation for years. While Crapser is not the only internationally adopted deportee, he is the first to sue both his adoption agency and the government of his country of origin. Many governments and adoption agencies are likely watching this case closely.
I will post more when we hear about the court’s decision. May there be justice for adoptees.
A favor: please keep in mind the many deported adoptees who are alone in a country with which they have little connection. They were adopted by U.S. citizens and raised in America, the place they call home.
They didn’t get U.S. citizenship, due to their adoptive parents not completing the process, or to bureaucratic snafus, or to some other reason beyond their control: they were children when they were adopted into what was supposed to be a “forever family.”
Some adoptees have been shocked to find out, as adults, that they could not prove they were American citizens. While citizenship was granted to international adoptees 18 and younger in 2000, there are estimated thousands who are now in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and older who may not even know they aren’t legal citizens.
And some have been deported, to countries where they don’t know anyone, don’t know the language, are unable to get work, and get little help from anyone.
They are lonely. Some of the older ones have serious health issues, like gout and diabetes, with little access to medications or medical care. They are not eligible for Social Security (regardless of how much they paid into it) or Medicare. They don’t speak the language, and they often have difficulty fitting in or finding a community.
Keep them in your heart, would you? Many feel forgotten. They left their original countries as little children, brought to America and (we hope) an adoptive family that loved them and kept them safe. Some deported adoptees married and have children they haven’t seen for years, and possibly never will again. I know one adoptee who has never met his own grandchildren. Some haven’t seen their siblings or parents or friends for decades, and every day can be very hard.
International adoptees should NOT be subject to deportation. It was not their fault that they did not get citizenship as children, when they were brought legally here to the U.S. (It is very hard for them to gain citizenship once they are adults.)
It’s their loneliness that haunts me, and keeps me advocating for legislation that will allow them to come home.
UPDATE: Unfortunately we need to reschedule this Zoom meeting. probably until September. We really appreciate the concern and support for Mike and his family. Please feel free to send me a message (via the Contact page) if you have any questions. Thank you.
Please register for this Zoom (info is below) and share widely! Thank you.
Join us Sunday July 31 at 9am pdt for a Zoom with Mike Davis, an Ethiopian adoptee who was deported to Ethiopia in 2005. Mike’s wife Laura, who lives in the U.S., and perhaps one of their sons, will also be with us.
Mike is almost 60 years old. Born in Addis Ababa in 1962, he was adopted when he was around 8 years old by a U.S. Army officer who was stationed in Ethiopia. In 1976, when Mike was 14, he and his dad returned to the U.S., with the legal approval of both Ethiopia and the United States. Mike grew up on military bases, and believed that America was his forever home. He had several small businesses, such as pizza place and a gas station. He married and had children. About 30 years ago, he got in some legal trouble, and accepted the consequences. He has had no trouble with the law since. Nonetheless, because he had less than excellent legal representation and could not prove citizenship, he was deported.
Yes: the U.S. government deports people who were legally brought as children to the United States for the purpose of adoption. The U.S. deports people who had no choice or agency in their immigration, and who arrived here with the legal sanction of both the United States and their country of origin. The U.S. deports people who were adopted to so-called “forever families,” people who had no means of responsibility for the processing of their citizenship, and then returns them to countries where they have no family, friends, language, or other connections.
Mike’s beloved dad passed away in 2012, and he could not, to his great sorrow, attend the funeral. His sons have grown up without him, and his wife has worked hard to support the family and to encourage Mike. He has grandchildren he has never met.
Mike is one of the writers whose essay is included in our book, Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees.The Ethiopian adoption community, and many other folks, want to help Mike. The co-editors of Lions Roaring, Aselefech Evans and Kassaye Berhanu MacDonald, Ethiopian adoptees themselves, are a pivotal part of this effort.
Our Zoom conversation with Mike and his family will take place on Sunday July 31 at 9am pacific time. (Please double check your time zone!)
Here is the link to sign up for the Zoom conversation:
Sunday, July 31, 2022 09:00 Pacific Time (US and Canada)
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
We hope to raise awareness about adoptee deportation, and its unfair, devastating effect on adopted people and on their families. We will also be fundraising for Mike’s legal, medical, and living expenses.
We will soon announce the pre-order and publication date of “Lions Roaring far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees,” and we will soon be hosting a Zoom for a deported Ethiopian adoptee, now almost 60 years old.
“Lions Roaring” is the first anthology entirely by Ethiopian adoptees. The funds from the sales of the book will be used for Ethiopian adoptees. We are creating an account for the revenue and will distribute it to Ethiopian adoptees for DNA tests, travel costs to and from Ethiopia, translation services, and more.
One of our writers is Mike Davis, whose adoptive father was a U.S. Army officer. Mike grew up on Army bases with his dad. Mike went on to get married, have children, and build several small businesses. He got in some trouble, and completed the sentence he was given—he got in no further trouble after that. However, years after, he was deported, as a result of not being able to prove citizenship. Inept lawyers and a difficult legal system added to the adversity. In 2005, at the age of 43, Mike was deported to Ethiopia, where he had no family, no job, no connections.
He is now almost 60. It is time for him to come back to his family in the United States.
Many folks, including Mike’s wife and children, have been working hard to bring him back home to the United States. He was not able to attend his beloved father’s funeral, and he has yet to see his grandchildren in person. It is past time to bring Mike, and all deported international adoptees, back home. They came to the U.S. with the legal sanction of both the U.S. and the country of origin, and with the understanding that the U.S. was a safe and permanent home for them. Our government has failed to honor that understanding of adoption, and that is a shameful reality.
We will soon be hosting a Zoom talk with Mike and his wife, so that more folks can learn about his situation, and also to raise funds for his legal costs and other expenses. More details will be available soon. We hope that you will join us.
For updates on the anthology (including publication date) and Zooms, please visit and “Like” the Lions Roaring Far From Home AnthologyFacebook page.
A Korean adoptee’s case against the Korean government and against Holt International adoption agency is slowly making its way through the Korean legal system. It could have significant ramifications for international adoption.
“On Jan. 24, 2019, Shin Song-hyuk (better known as Adam Crapser), internationally adopted from Korea to the United States, filed a petition with the Seoul Central District Court against the Korean government and Holt Children’s Services Inc. for violating his rights during his adoption process. Although the plaintiff’s story garnered worldwide media attention, his lawsuit represents a historic legal first. Referred to as case number 2019 GA-HAP 502520 (because Korea does not include the parties involved in the names of legal cases), this petition is the first and only attempt by an inter-country adoptee to hold the Korean government accountable for failing to uphold its duty in such an adoption.”
According to the article, Adam Crapser/Shin Song-hyuk filed allegations against both the government of South Korea and against the Holt adoption agency:
“Alleged illegal acts of Republic of Korea:
Negligence of its duty to protect its national in the process of inter-country adoption.
Unconstitutional use of proxy adoptions, a practice stipulated in the Adoption Special Procedure Act.
Negligence of its duty to monitor and audit the practices of adoption agencies.
Violation of its obligation to perform due diligence in the process of allowing children to leave the country to be adopted transnationally. The government had a duty to execute this crucial step by ensuring that a relevant authority would verify the legitimacy of the adoption agencies’ procedures. However, it failed to do so, thereby being in severe dereliction of duty.
Failure to monitor and verify the citizenship acquisition of inter-country adoptees, as prescribed by law.
Negligence of its obligation to fulfill post-adoption monitoring of the plaintiff’s adoption.
Failure to uphold the international norms that seek to prevent financial gain by allowing the inclusion of such unethical practices in the implementation ordinance of the Special Adoption Procedure Act.
Alleged illegal acts of Holt Children’s Services Inc.:
Holt is among the original four accredited adoption agencies authorized by the government to engage exclusively in inter-country adoptions from Korea for foreign adoptive parents. The original intent of granting such exclusive power should have been to secure the protection and welfare of children adopted abroad. However, rather than fulfilling this aim, it abused its power and engaged in gross child rights violations to reap financial benefits from its adoption business.
In the case of the plaintiff, despite knowing about the existence of the mother and father, Holt proceeded to provide fraudulent information to the registry office to register the plaintiff as an abandoned orphan.
The allegations are: negligence in the conduct of its duty to serve as a guardian and protect the children under its care; illegally relinquishing and transferring guardianship to the agencies of the receiving countries; failure to execute its obligations to provide support in the acquisition of citizenship for adoptees and to verify the acquisition in accordance with the relevant laws of the receiving countries.”
The petition, filed over three years ago, is still being considered in the Korean court system. I am not a lawyer and have no expertise about the Korean legal process, but I’d guess one reason this is taking so long is because of the potentially enormous ramifications of the court’s decision not only for Adam Crapser, but for all Korean adoptees and for international adoption generally.
A Korean human rights lawyer, Lee Kyung-eun (Ph.D. in law), has recently published three articles in the Korea Times. The articles include excerpts from a 70-page amicus brief designed “to assist the judges in understanding the historic meaning of this case.”
Lee Kyung-eun is the director of Human Rights Beyond Borders and author of the Korean-language book, “The Children-selling Country,” and the English book, “The Global Orphan Adoption System; South Korea’s Impact on Its Origin and Development.”
Here are the links to the amicus brief excerpts, as published in English in the Korea Times:
Highlights: This article discusses the history of international adoption laws following the Korean War. The laws expanded and systematized what we now know as intercountry adoption processes. Among the significant points here is the creation of the legal definition of orphan. The 1961 U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Act and Korea’s 1961 Special Orphan Adoption Act created policies that meant an orphan was not necessarily a child with two deceased parents. An orphan could also be a child abandoned by both parents, or a child whose one remaining parent gave up the care of the child. Thus, children could be “economic orphans” or “social orphans.”
Highlights: This article continues the discussion of the creation/relaxation of the definition of “orphan,” plus an explanation of three Korean documents designed to “obtain the final decisions of the adoption proceedings in the U.S. state courts and qualifications for (the child’s) entry to the U.S.” The documents were apparently mass-produced. “The implications…suggest that it is necessary to investigate thoroughly whether inter-country adoption was a system to find a home for orphans or to produce orphans for the sake of adoption.”
Highlights; This article discusses the obligations of Korea and of the U.S. (since this case concerns an adoptee to the U.S.) to confirm that adoptees have received citizenship in their adoptive country. There is a reference to Holt’s court documents (which as far as I know have not been published), saying Holt was unaware of such a responsibility. According to the amicus brief, “The obligation to confirm the acquisition of citizenship by an inter-country adoptee belongs to both sending and receiving countries. It is obvious not only under international norms but also under then Korean law. The failure of the Korean government and adoption agencies to fulfill such an obligation is a clear and significant human rights infringement and a violation of Korean law.”
I urge anyone interested in international adoption to read the three articles above which summarize the amicus brief. (There may be more articles to come.) Keep an eye on this case, in regard to citizenship issues for international adoptees, the deportation of adoptees rom the United States, and the definition of “orphan” for purposes of intercountry adoption. The ramifications are global.
To our U.S. Congress: Pass the Adoptee Citizenship bill before even considering any other international adoption legislation.
A new bill, the Children in Family Security Act (CFS Act), has been introduced into Congress to “ensure a diplomatic focus on keeping vulnerable children in the security of a family.” My first impression, and I am not a lawyer, is that the bill would require the U.S. State Department to promote, as a diplomatic mission, the adoption of children from other countries to the United States.
The bill does not, unless I am wrong, focus on preserving families, preventing children from entering institutional care, finding in-country relatives to foster or adopt the children, providing micro loans to help families keep their children, or increasing funding for equitable medical care around the globe.
The CSF Act supporters are listed as the National Council for Adoption, American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, Bethany Christian Services, Nourished Hearts, Center for Adoption Policy, and Gladney Center for Adoption.
During National Adoption Awareness Month, I posted every day about adoptee-centric, adoptee-led organizations, I must point out that none of the above orgs are adoptee-led or adoptee-centric. Neither are they international birth parent-led nor international birth parent-centric. They are adoptive parent-centric and adoption agency/lawyer-centric.
Here’s the thing: I am an adoptive parent, and I love my children more than I can say. Like the sponsors and supporters of the CFS Act, I also support keeping children out of institutions. Primarily I support family preservation to do that, which is I realize an enormous task. I get that. And I argue that we need to re-adjust our priorities and our funding to eliminating the reasons children end up in institutions: poverty, lack of education, lack of decent or any health care, job training, child care.
Speaking of priorities, however, here is my take on the Children in Family Security Act. Don’t even begin working on that until the Adoptee Citizenship Act is passed, and all international adoptees have citizenship. All of them. Some don’t even know they are not American citizens. Bring the deported adoptees back home; some of them are in their 40’s and 50’s. Some have died by suicide; some have been killed. Congress: Prevent more deportations; prevent more families from being torn apart.
Then we can all turn to the CFS Act and other legislation.
First, though, if you’re going to promote international adoption, grant citizenship to all international adoptees.
This is day 17 of National Adoption Awareness Month, so this is my daily post to amplify the voices of adoptees.
Most people, when they think of international adoption, think of cute little babies and children (mostly Black and Brown) arriving at the airport and then living forever with their loving adoptive American families.
They don’t think of an 8-year-old Korean boy abused repeatedly by his adoptive father, who chained the boy outside on a dog’s metal leash stake and beat him, then locked him back in the closet where he was given bread and water. The boy grew up and served in the U.S. military, including a tour in Kuwait, defending America’s interests.They don’t think of the 10-year-old Ethiopian boy adopted by an American soldier, a single dad. who brought the boy to the US where he had his own pizza business as a young man. They don’t think of the 6-year-old boy from Morocco who grew up in the South and now speaks with a Texas drawl. And they don’t think of the little girl born in Jamaica whose leg was amputated due to cancer when she was in high school. All of them have been deported back to their birth countries, because they are not, to their surprise, U.S. citizens, despite having entered the country legally as the children of U.S. citizens.
The rest of the story here is that they, as many young Americans have, committed crimes and then served their time in U.S. jails or prison boot camps. Unlike the biological children born here, the adoptees were deported because, through no fault of theirs, they had not been given citizenship. The wrong paperwork was filed, or their parents thought they had automatic citizenship, or someone (not the adoptee) dropped the ball and maybe didn’t even realize it until too late.
Imagine being 30 or 40 years old, and suddenly ending up in a country where you don’t speak the language, can’t get an ID, can’t get a job, and have no family or friends. That soldier who served in Kuwait ate garbage for a few weeks after he arrived in South Korea, living under a bridge for weeks. He’s now 50 years old, rejected by his birth country for not being Korean enough, and by the U.S., for not being American enough.
Also-Known-As, an adoptee-founded, adoptee-led nonprofit, is among the organizations working to change this. They recently held an online event “Deported, Not Forgotten,” where four adoptees talked about their lives before and after deportation.
Then contact your Congressional representatives and Senators and ask them to sponsor the Adoptee Citizenship Act. You can find information here via the Adoptee Rights Law Center, which is led by an adult adoptee.
Advocating for citizenship for all international adoptees will take only a few minutes.
Also, if you can, please donate to the fundraiser for deported adoptees. Any amount will help, of course. $25 could pay an adoptee’s Internet for a month. $900 could pay for an airplane ticket so a wife, son, daughter, or sibling can visit their family member. Imagine the psychological and emotional hardships of being sent away from the country you thought was yours; the financial hardships are tremendous as well.
If you support adoption, and believe in National Adoption Awareness Month, help pass the Adoptee Citizenship Act for all adoptees, and also donate to support those who have been deported.
Tomorrow (November 16, 2021, 6pm est) Also-Known-As is hosting an incredibly important event featuring four adult adoptees who were deported back to their country of origin, having lived their lives adopted by US families and thinking they were American citizens.
This is day 7 of National Adoption Awareness Month, so this is my daily post to amplify the voices of adoptees.
Adoptees United Inc. is an adoptee-founded and adoptee-led nonprofit that focuses on the legal rights of adopted people. They track and monitor adoptee rights legislation in all 50 states in the U.S. They also track federal and state legislation, such as citizenship, that affects international adoptees. Their Board of Directors is made up of adoptees (both domestic and international). Identity, U.S. citizenship, and equality for all adoptees is at the heart of their work. They “provide resources, advocacy, and support to organizations committed to these equal rights issues.”
The issue of identity (a complex issue) relates to something that we non-adoptees take for granted: Who are my parents? What are their names? What is the actual time and date of my birth? Across the U.S., different states have different laws regarding original birth certificates and access to them. Adoptees United tracks the legislation in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The issue of U.S. citizenship is an enormous one for perhaps thousands of international adoptees whose parents did not naturalize them and who are not American citizens, though they may think they are. Adoptees United provides information about the pending legislation, and they work with advocacy groups to support their capacity in pursuing legislative relief for all international adoptees.
The issue of equality for all adoptees is the heart to their work. They hope, as a relatively new organization, to become a “trusted national voice and a source of information and advocacy for issues impacting all adult adoptees in the United States.” The “central issue of equal rights applies to all adoptees…we will be more powerful if we come together as advocates, whether we act as colleagues, allies, friends, or supporters.”
You can support adoptee-led organizations during National Adoption Awareness Month by following them on Facebook and by attending their events. On November 29, Adoptees United will hold a panel discussion to answer the question “Who Do We Mean by ‘We?’ The Voices of Adoptees.” The panelists, all adult adoptees, will talk about the mistaken impressions of them by other adoptees, about how affinity groups have or have not been useful (when they were available), and about what changes they’d like to see in the adoption community. More information is available here.
Like all most nonprofits, especially new ones, Adoptees United would like to have a secure financial base from which to carry out their vision. You can donate to them here. Please donate to adoptee-led, adoptee-centric organizations whenever possible. That would be a great way to support adoptees during National Adoption Awareness Month.