Holt Action Alert: Oppose FACE Legislation

Back in July, I passed on some important information from Ethica about pending legislation that will affect intercountry adoption. Holt International has begun an action alert to encourage those who oppose this legislation to make our opinions known by encouraging our legislators to oppose the proposed bill.

If you, too, are concerned about the negative impacts of FACE legislation on the adoption process, as well as its potential negative consequences for adoptees, please visit the Holt action alert page now. In addition to a clear explanation of Holt's concerns with this legislation, you will find a suggested letter that can be emailed to your legislators from the action alert page.

Join Ethica, Holt and many others and register your opposition to FACE legislation today.

Edited 10-20-09 to add: Some of you may not be comfortable using an adoption agency website to contact your legislators. You can find your representatives and senators directly on the House and Senate websites, too. It doesn't matter how you voice your concerns - it matters that you do.

And please spread the word!!


Yoli said…
Margie thank you for passing this along!
KoreanWarbaby said…
Thanks Margie,
This is totally wrong, One wonders WHY this is being passed. Does it have anything to do with a certain US President? Hmmmm.
Margie said…
KWB, this legislation got it's start for a good reason: in response to the loopholes left by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1312.html). It's main proponent is an organization called EACH (Equality for Adopted Children - http://www.equalityforadoptedchildren.org/), whose founder (McLane Layton) worked very hard as a Hill staffer to get legislation passed that would make citizenship retroactive for all adoptees, even those beyond the age of 18. After 9-11, that effort was doomed, and adoptee deportations followed.

What's strange, though, is that FACE still doesn't fix that loophole. Instead, it focuses on the visa process, which in my opinion is a truly adoptive parent focused point of view. With child trafficking a real concern, it makes no sense to me that one would eliminate safeguards; plus, I've heard adoptive parent proponents of this legislation make the case that their children aren't immigrants and therefore should be treated differently than others.

EACH's website also says that the legislation will make it possible for transnational adoptees to run for president. It's a nice sentiment, but when delivered for adoptees only, and not for other foreigh-born children, I find it very unethical.

I should put this in it's own post. I think I will.
We must be reading from two separate FACE Act legislative proposals. In reading the Holt Call to Action I found numerous misrepresentations of the actual content of the proposed bill.
Regarding parents background checks, Sec. 2 (1)(C) It is determined that each adopting parent is eligible and suitable to adopt the child, including determining that the parent is able to support the child and has undergone an appropriate criminal background check. Subsection (D)clearly identifies the requirements for determining a child's eligibility for adoption which is unchanged from current practice as a safeguard against child trafficing.
In regards to the claim that with the FACE Act,an adoptees connection to their birth culture will be dimished or severed, Sec.203 Rule of Construction. Nothing in this Act or in any amendment made by this Act may be construed to- (1) Abrogate any citizenship rights provided to the adoptee by the adoptee's country of origin; or (2) nullify the facts of the adoptee's birth history. Sec.204 Sense of Congress states: It is the sense of Congress that the government of each foreign country from which children are adopted by citizens of the United States should provide documentation of the adopted children's original birth history to the adoptive family in accordance with the laws of such country.
It should be noted that some countries may not permit the release of birth parent information, but where it is allowed, such documentation should be provided. Original documents should never be destroyed. The U.S. government can not require foreign governments to provide birth information if such provision would violate any laws of that country. The U.S. government can encourage foreign governments to retain original birth documents and provide them to the adoptive family as long as it is allowed under that country's laws.
I did not find any language in the bill that would create or support any loopholes in the current system of parental requirements for approval to adopt or in the U.S. Secretary of State requirements to allow immigration or confer citizenship status as outlined in existing adoption law.
I agree that this bill in it's present form will not satisfy the need for older adoptees to automatically obtain their U.S. Citizenship, but it will however eliminate the question of legal citizenship for all future foreign born adopted children by eliminating the restrictive immigration process.

Margie said…
Thanks, Richard, for pointing out the background check requirement disconnect. Holt either missed that entirely, or it’s possible the bill has undergone changes since its announcement because of the concerns that have been raised. I’ve alerted Holt and have asked for a clarification.

Re your points regarding adoptee connections or access to birth culture: I don't see anything on the Holt site that indicates the bill would limit adoptee access to birth culture. Holt makes a different point: that the bill creates the legal fiction that the adopted person has been American since birth. I agree with Holt on this. The bill states that no one should “nullify the facts of the adoptee's birth history.” Conferring citizenship back to birth does just that, because it presumes an attachment to the adoptive parent that didn’t exist at that time, as opposed to the CCA of 2000, which confers it back to arrival, at which point a connection did exist.

Re records: The current immigration visa process requires the Central Authority (in our case, DoS) to maintain the visa process records, which contain important information for an adopted person, including a birth certificate and medical information gathered at the time of adoption. If the immigrant visa process is eliminated, maintenance of the associated records logically would be as well. If the FACE act intends for DoS to maintain a subset of the documentation it currently receives in the visa process, it should speak to that and make the requirement clear. As it stands now, the bill simply takes out the visa requirement, but doesn’t provide the language to clarify what will happen to these records and this information.

As you say, maintaining this information is very difficult, here and in the placing country. This is why I believe this issue should be very clearly addressed in the bill.

Re loopholes to approval to adopt: I’m not seeing a reference to a loophole to AP approval or conference of citizenship on the Holt action alert – which items you mean?

Also, I’m not sure what you mean by this: “it will however eliminate the question of legal citizenship for all future foreign born adopted children by eliminating the restrictive immigration process.” How is the current immigration process restrictive? How is current citizenship not legal? And how would it prevent legal citizenship for a child if the requirements of the visa process are met?

I talk more about my point of view in my next post here: http://thirdmom.blogspot.com/2009/10/more-thoughts-about-face-legislation.html.
Katie said…

It appears there are some misunderstandings about the FACE Act. Readers may want to view the FACE Act sponsors' response to Holt's alert that addresses the inaccuracies contained within the alert. Folks can view the response at http://www.kidsave.org/pdf/ResponseHoltFACEAct.pdf.
Scott said…
Katie is absolutely correct and everyone should view the response of the bill sponsors before sending a form letter to their representatives. FACE does nothing to detract from the culture of adoptive children. It in no way lessons the scrutiny of PAPs. It in no way destroys any extant rights of adopted children. The Holt Action Alert is full of misunderstandings, if not outright misrepresentations. It simply streamlines immigration post-adoption, decreases adoption expense and it grants an adopted child the same rights as the child of a US citizen born overseas. I fail to see how this act is anything but a positive for the adopted child.
Margie said…
Scott says:

"It simply streamlines immigration post-adoption, decreases adoption expense and it grants an adopted child the same rights as the child of a US citizen born overseas."

Streamlining immigration post-adoption has already been accomplished through the Child Citizenship act of 2000 http://adoption.state.gov/pdf/FAQs_Child%20Citizenship%20Act%20of%202000.pdf, which grants citizenship upon arrival. Additionally, FACE does NOTHING to make citizenship retroactive to adoptees, including those who have been deported, who weren't grandfathered into the CCA. Why even bother with more adoptee citizenship legislation if you don't fix this appalling failure? Why aren't adoptive parents screaming from the rafters about that? And why aren't they screaming for general immigration reform for others besides THEIR adopted children?

Scott says the legislation grants an adopted child the same rights as a U.S. citizen born overseas. THE CHILD WAS NOT A U.S. CITIZEN AT BIRTH. THE CHILD WAS NOT BORN TO U.S. CITIZENS. THIS, AS HOLT CORRECTLY AND HONESTLY SAYS, IS A LEGAL FICTION. Making citizenship retroactive to birth does nothing save perhaps allow an adoptee to run for President. As I've read responses to this legislation, it has amazed me to see how many adoptive parents truly believe that this is their adopted child's right, but not the right of any other immigrant - like my own relatives who immigrated. Frankly, as the child of immigrants myself, it disturbs me that adoptive parents think it's somehow noble to build up this fiction. What would be noble would be to work for immigration reform that makes it possible for ALL immigrants to run for high office. But many APs are opposed to such a thought, and only want to create this fictional niche for their own kids. It's wrong, morally and ethically wrong. And our children's life histories should not be toyed with in this way.

As for reducing post-adoption immigration expense and paperwork - it is minimal considering all the expenses and time that precede it. The CCA has addressed citizenship issues well, save the grandfathering issue. EACH would have done better to focus their - fixing THAT would have been a real service to adoptees and adoptive parents.

EACH also says the legislation will make it easier for APs to apply for SSNs for their children and for them to enroll them in school programs. Well, since the vast majority of children adopted from overseas are under school age, this really is a boondoggle. But in those cases in which some proof of citizenship might be required for a school system to provide special services - again, why aren't adoptive parents screaming about the rights of ALL children to these services, regardless of citizenship and immigration status?

FACE would create the precise legal fiction that Holt has described. It separates immigrant adopted children from the immigrant community general, which is incredibly sad to me having seen how my own children have found connection and identity among kids from other countries. This, plus the very real risk Holt describes that removal of the Central Authority's - DoS - requirement to maintain records would be eliminated. The bill is focused on adoptive parent convenience and the desire to prove to the world that their immigrant children aren't immigrants after all. It's wrong.

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