Justin's Story, Oregon

Story Collection

Justin shares his narrative, giving insight of what it means to live as an adoptee without citizenship.

photo of justin ki hong, an adoptee

Justin, Oregon. Leader for Day of Action delegation in Washington, D.C. on 10/04/2016.

I was adopted on March 15, 1985 from South Korea by a family with four biological children in Minneapolis, MN, via a Special Needs magazine as I was born with heart disease. A month after I was adopted, my adoptive father started to sexually abuse me, which continued for 14 years until about three weeks before my 17th birthday. My adoptive father controlled everyone in the family, including my mother who turned to addiction as a way to medicate. The years of sexual abuse and torture have deeply scarred me mentally and emotionally, and I continue to struggle to recover to this day.

Growing up, my adoptive father threatened to either kill me or ship me somewhere if I ever told anyone what he was doing to me. Although he said this, I didn’t understand to where I would be shipped off. I discovered in my adult life that my citizenship paperwork had never been completed, which has left me stateless as I am neither South Korean nor an American citizen. This has been a blow to my sense of identity; it makes me feel like a nobody, a fraud living in the U.S. It makes me question who I am and worry about whether there is any chance I could be deported. It is illegal for me to vote in a system where I pay taxes, and am denied a passport. Without a passport, I am locked into a country who views me as an outsider even though I was adopted by US citizen parents when I was 2 ½ years old.

I cannot change what happened to me for those 14 years, nor can I change the fact that my citizenship paperwork was never completed. I have never seen an actual war, but have survived my own. Those who were entrusted to protect me from the moment I was brought off that plane deserted me; I was literally thrown to the wolves to be on my own. Citizenship should have been provided to me, and given the cumbersome process and great expense, I now cannot get it. If my parents did not send in the required paperwork, follow up should have happened, which also could have prevented the years I was assaulted repeatedly.

G iven what I have gone through, I have not only stayed alive, I have proved I am an American Citizen. Sharing my story and being part of the effort to pass the Adoptee Citizenship Act helps me believe that something positive can finally come from all of what I went through. Every survivor strives to find closure and I firmly believe that being recognized as a citizen could be just that for me. I willingly share my story in the hopes that thousands like me can be recognized as such. I ask you to support the Adoptee Citizenship Act today!