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The Adoptee Citizenship Act and 'Blue Bayou' (2021)

On September 17, 2021, Justin Chon’s new film "Blue Bayou" was released in American theaters amidst a building tidal wave of controversy, particularly regarding Adam Crapser’s stance that the storyline was heavily based on his life without his consent.

The Universal Asian stands as a balanced platform that highlights and shares the voices, work, and stories of both #importedAsians and #hyphenatedAsians without bias or prejudice toward one side or the other. This may or may not reflect the individual opinions of the team members of TUA; however, as a platform, we remain true to our mission and values. 

Therefore, we are—as neutrally as possible—sharing the information that has been publicly put onto social media or given directly to us by both parties to allow for each of you to reach your own conclusions.

"Blue Bayou" tells the fictionalized story of a young, Asian-American man who was adopted as a child and grew up in New Orleans. After getting caught up in false police charges, he discovers through a paperwork technicality that he could be deported from the only country he has ever called home. The film is written/directed by and stars Justin Chon, and co-stars Oscar winner Alicia Vikander from "The Danish Girl." It was released in theaters in the U.S. on September 17, 2021.

Official Public Statement from Adam Crapser via Facebook:

Official Public Statement from Adoptees for Justice via Instagram and Facebook:

Justin Chon’s Statement:

“During the entire writing process I spent hundreds of hours doing research, including speaking and listening to 13 adoptees who shared their personal experiences with me. In order to respect their privacy, I agreed with their request to remain anonymous. However, nine of those adoptees believe in the film so much, they have now come forward to provide their names and issued a statement through Adoptee Advocacy in support of the film. This film is not about one person. From the onset, I did not want this film to solely reflect just one individual’s details. It’s an issue that affects thousands of adoptees in this country. My research also involved speaking with an immigration attorney who is a Korean American adoptee. It was very important for all of us to make sure the depiction of the deportation process was accurate and authentic. Every draft of the script was shared with the core adoptees and their input impacted the entire creative process. As with every film, there are always challenges and changes. I listened to the concerns raised from beginning to end, hopeful that my film could reflect the experiences that many adoptees face. The film is stronger because of everyone’s input, and I am grateful for that.I understand that much of many adoptees’ lives have been void of choice. The choice of where they would live, the choice of whom their adoptive parents were, even sometimes the choice of when or even IF they wanted to look for their birth parents. This is NOT my story nor do I claim to understand what it feels like to be an adoptee. I made this film because I became aware of an inhumane policy that needs attention. I hope that this film can continue to bring awareness to the impacted adoptees in this country.”

Official Statement from members of Adoptee Advocacy:

"Press Statement 9/27/2021

Statement from the Deported and Impacted Adoptee Community in Support of Blue Bayou

September 27, 2021 – We the undersigned, all internationally-adopted to the US and personally impacted by the citizenship issue, would like to make this statement in support of the movie Blue Bayou and address the recent attacks against it. All of us have been deported or are living with the explicit threat of it.

This movie isn’t about only one person, it is about the whole community of deported adoptees. The script is all of our stories — we see strong similarities to many of our histories: abusive families, getting in trouble with law, being deported while leaving behind small children. There are also details that resonate as belonging to several individuals among us, that help make it our personal story as well. No movie can represent all adoptees, or even all impacted adoptees, and this movie focuses on those of us who have been deported. To that end, it is a movie we all fully support.

Which is why a boycott of this film by the adoptee community has been a devastating gut punch to us. We see Blue Bayou as a chance to shine a light on the injustice we have suffered, yet it is our own community that is now piling another injustice on us. We were abandoned by our country, and now we are being abandoned by people we thought were our brothers and sisters. Even worse than being abandoned, we feel we are being treated as the enemy.

It is a terrible betrayal that Adoptees for Justice, which was specifically created to address the citizenship issue and support deported and impacted adoptees, would lead a campaign to boycott Blue Bayou and turn its back on us.

Here are some facts to consider:

  1. No fewer than 8 deported adoptees have viewed this film and stand behind it as a meaningful and accurate representation of our stories, and request community support for this film.

  2. No fewer than 14 adoptees, including 5 of us who are deported or impacted, had the opportunity to read and provide feedback to the script. Major script changes were incorporated based on this feedback.

  3. Among these 14 were the entire board of Adoptees for Justice, who read the script and subsequently voted to have the organization’s name behind the film, with Kris Larsen as Adoptees for Justice Executive Director being the group’s main representative to the film.

  4. It was only after the film was shot and in post-production that anyone at Adoptees for Justice raise an issue about the film, even though it matched the script that was previously reviewed and agreed to.

  5. With the unexpected withdrawal of support from the Adoptees for Justice board, Anissa, who was the only remaining deported / impacted adoptee on the board, resigned and formed Adoptee Advocacy.

Justin Chon came to us and promised to tell our story. We feel he has fulfilled that promise. While he added dramatic and plot flourishes to appeal to a mainstream audience, he gave many of us opportunities to consult and contribute, and made changes based on the feedback. We are incredibly grateful to him.

Ernesto, who had chosen not to appear at the end of the movie, called us in tears after watching the screener: “If I would’ve watched this movie prior to saying I didn’t want to put my face at the end, I think I would’ve done it differently, because this thing has touched me at so many levels, that I think the rest of the world needs to hear. I don’t know if it was good that I watched it alone. I don’t know if it would have been good to watch it as a group, but I know that I felt alone, and I don’t wish this on anybody.”

We hope those of you who have been fighting against this movie will see how much it means to us and involves all of us, and will instead support and advocate for this movie with as much excitement. We also hope that the words flooded all over social media trying to bring this movie down will be outnumbered by new words pushing for citizenship for all adoptees.

Sincerely, Anissa Druesedow – Panama Crystal Moran – El Salvador Ernesto – Panama Frank – St. Kitts Kris Larsen – Vietnam Mauricio Cappelli – Costa Rica Mike Davies – Ethiopia Monte Haines – S. Korea Reny Javier – Spain

**ACTION ALERT** How YOU can support the Adoptee Citizenship Act 2021:

  1. Sign the petition

  2. Call/email your members of Congress

  3. Check out Alliance for Adoptee Citizenship — AAC and their NEW website

  4. Sign the petition in support of Adam

  5. Send a letter of support to your members of Congress to pass an inclusive Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021 NOW!



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