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Justin Chon’s new film Blue Bayou exploits impacted members of our community

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Chicago, IL – Adoptees for Justice, a project of NAKASEC, does not endorse Justin Chon’s recently released film, Blue Bayou. Regardless of the filmmaker’s intent, the unfortunate reality is that the film exploits impacted members of our adoptee community by using their stories without their consent, while lacking a call for meaningful action or providing any support for them.

The film Blue Bayou is clearly based on the life of Korean American adoptee Adam Crapser, who did not give the filmmaker his consent or the rights to his story. The story of the film’s main protagonist Antonio more than parallels Adam’s story. Beyond the fact that Antonio is a Korean American adoptee who is placed in deportation proceedings, his story also mirrors very specific details from Adam’s life, such as the age at which he was adopted, his partner being pregnant at the time of ICE intervention, his partner having an older daughter from a previous relationship that the main character treats as his own child, and the adoptive father being abusive. Using someone’s story without their permission, especially someone who already has suffered greatly and remains separated from their family, is disrespectful and exploitative. As an adoptee-led project of a progressive Asian American organization, Adoptees For Justice cannot tolerate the appropriation of our community members’ stories and lived experiences. Given all that we lose as intercountry adoptees, we should not also lose the right to and control of our own stories. 

Furthermore, there is currently legislation pending in Congress that, if passed, would provide relief for Adam and other impacted adoptees. Justin Chon’s film, while displaying pictures and statistics about the number of adoptees without citizenship who are in desperate need of relief, provides no information about or a call to action for this critical legislation, the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021. This omission leads us to further question Chon’s intention in making the film. It is wrong for the main person who gains from this film to be the filmmaker, while  adoptees without citizenship in the United States are at risk and in limbo and deported adoptees remain separated from their families and loved ones with no path back to the only country they call home.

As organizations working toward citizenship for all, an end to the violence of detention and deportations, and toward a world in which all human beings are treated with dignity and respect, Adoptees for Justice and NAKASEC call upon Justin Chon and Focus Films to halt all showings of Blue Bayou until they directly consult Adam Crapser about next steps. Justin Chon and Focus Films should take this first step toward lessening the harm caused by the film Blue Bayou – supporters are signing this petition. Additionally, Adoptees for Justice and NAKASEC urge all those who seek justice for adoptees without citizenship to take action by signing this letter of support and calling your Members of Congress to urge them to cosponsor and pass the Adoptee Citizenship Act now, with inclusive language to bring home all deported adoptees.