Kim Craig was adopted at the age of 5 by a family in New Hope, Minnesota. On a recent fall day in a coffee shop in Seoul, she looked like any typical American tourist on vacation — no makeup, casual clothes. She ordered her coffee in English. But technically, Craig is not an American. She never received her US citizenship.
More than 160,000 children from South Korea have been adopted internationally since the 1950s. Most of the receiving countries conferred automatic citizenship, except for one: the United States. The process there created a loophole that left some adoptees without the rights they were supposed to receive. Last month, a Korean adoptee, Adam Crapser, lost his bid to stay in the US and is expected to be deported back to South Korea — a country he left nearly 40 years ago at the age of 3 — because he also never received citizenship.
Kim Craig’s troubles started with her unstable home life in the US.
She says her adoptive mother was abusive and gave her up after a year. Craig was then sent to live with another adoptive family in Minnesota, which didn’t work out either. She remembers having to project a certain family image, but she says it was a lie.
“I don’t have a lot of memories, maybe [most are of events that took place] outside of the home,” she says. “Inside the home, very few except for getting beatings.”
At 13, Craig tried to kill herself. She ran away and started drinking. When authorities tried to send her…