Russell Green (Lim Sang Keum) was born to a Korean mother and an American soldier and has lived in the U.S. for over 30 years. He currently faces possible deportation to Korea – a country whose language he cannot speak, where he has no family who recognizes him, and that revoked his citizenship as part of their adoption laws.
He arrived in Massachusetts from Korea as a 12-year-old boy, but after only a few months, his “forever parents” returned him to the adoption agency before his adoption was finalized. Russell was then placed with a single foster parent living in Brooklyn, New York who cared for older boys and who promised to adopt him. Although this foster parent renamed Sang Keum “Russell David Green,” he did not legally change Russell’s name, adopt him, and facilitate his naturalization.
Instead, he exposed Russell to alcohol, marijuana, and abuse and set him up for a lifetime of addiction, danger, and pain. The agency failed to facilitate a permanent family and home for Russell as a U.S. citizen. Through its irresponsibility, it reduced him to a condition of statelessness, which means in effect that he has lived under constant threat of deportation. Russell’s ties to the U.S., which he considers his home, are deeply personal. Although not being officially adopted, he is regarded as a son by an elderly American couple who have loved and cared for him for over 20 years.
He is a father to three children who were born in New York. Russell’s story could be any intercountry adoptee’s story. A child is vulnerable to the neglect of the receiving country and its adoption agencies, which are bound to act in her/his best interests. As immigrants who journeyed to the U.S. to be adopted, we in the adoptee community and our allies cannot allow these unjust deportations. Children do not come to the U.S. of their own volition to be adopted. They should not be vulnerable to deportation as adults because the intercountry adoption system failed to uphold their rights when they were children.