Stand with Adoptees for Citizenship

Korea Adoption Services, or KAS, the Republic of Korea’s central authority for intercountry adoption, just published a summary of the support the ROK will provide to adoptees deported from their adoptive countries:

•  Housing support: 2 years lease, subsidizing the maintenance fee
•  Living expense support: 500,000 KRW by the month (2 years)
•  Korean language support: private tutoring (2 years)
•   Medical support: national health insurance, medications, medical expenses (2 years)
•   Psychotherapy support: psychological test (full battery: once), counselling (2 years)
•  Imprisoned adoptees: case care, etc. (as needed)
•  KAS may support deported adoptees in condition that the adoptee consent to the agreement

It is our failure – mine and yours – that have brought intercountry adoption to the United States to this shameful state.

Some of you will read this and walk away, thinking deportation has happened to such a tiny minority of adoptees that it isn’t something you need to worry about, especially if your child has U.S. citizenship. Others will think it’s a thing of the past, resolved by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. And you will be wrong.

The CCA 2000 provided citizenship for intercountry adoptees who were under the age of 18 when it went into effect in February 2001 and for adoptees who entered the country subsequently and met the requirements of the law. But as the U.S. State Department’s FAQs on the CCA 2000 shows, those requirements can leave a new population in the lurch if their parents and adoption agencies do not ensure the law’s requirements for finalizing adoption are met. And adoptees who were over the age of 18 when it took effect were left out entirely.

The Adoption Museum Project and Adoptee Rights Campaign state that 35,000 to 50,000 U.S. intercountry adoptees live in the U.S. without citizenship. They live under ICE surveillance and supervision, in fear, often unable to get or keep employment, obtain credit or loans, and even access their own or their spouses’ retirement benefits.

My home town Mentor, Ohio, has a population of about 47,000. What, I wonder, would our legislators’ responses be if we found out by some wrinkle in the world’s fabric that the entire population of my home town was without U.S. citizenship? There would be quick action, for sure, and the mothers, fathers, children and families of this American town would be protected, and fast.

So why not intercountry adoptees? Every deported and stateless adoptee has the exact same relationships as the citizens of Mentor, Ohio. They have parents, children, wives and husbands, and extended families. Their lives are as precious. Congress must take action to protect them.

I beg you: If you are an adoptive parent in an online community chatting about your children, please stop and spend the next year of your life working to end adoptee statelessness and deportation. If every adoptive parent stands with adoptees by making calls and writing letters to Congress, publishing articles and using whatever soap boxes you may have to promote the Adoptee Citizenship Act, we may succeed in ending the horror. You are needed, now, to pick up the pieces left behind by a broken system. Do not let any more adoptees suffer the consequences.

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