No time for adoptive parent fragility! Get your child's certificate of citizenship!

We adoptive parents are a fragile lot, always getting our knickers in a twist about something or other related to adoption. Sometimes the brand is deserved, sometimes it's not. But there’s one thing that I absolutely agree falls into the category of adoptive parent fragility – or entitlement, selfishness, call it what you will - and that's the whining out there about the burden and expense of obtaining a certificate of citizenship for an adopted child.

It has gotten expensive, to be sure - $1170 this year. No one likes the bureaucratic headache, either, me included - I could share my family's experiences with INS/USICS as examples. But when I see an adoptive parent of a five or ten year old, or worse, of a teenager, say they haven’t gotten this important legal protection for their child, my blood boils.

When the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 went into effect on February 27. 2001, its provisions were clear, as the fact sheet of December 2000 shows:
Will Eligible Children Automatically Receive Proof of Citizenship—Such As Citizenship Certificates and Passports?
No. Proof of citizenship will not be automatically issued to eligible children. However, if proof of citizenship is desired, beginning February 27, 2001, parents of children who meet the conditions of the new law may apply for a certificate of citizenship for their child with INS and/or for a passport for their child with the Department of State.
There it is, in black and white, from two months before the CCA 2000 went into effect. So any parent adopting after then knew at the time they adopted that they would be responsible for proof of citizenship.

I frequently hear complaints along these lines: My child entered this country legally. She has citizenship now. Why should I have to get documentation for her? And how dare anyone single her out for questioning or detainment? The answer to the first question is that she wasn't born here and is subject to the same laws and requirements that other citizens born outside of the U.S. must follow. The answer to the second is, of course, has nothing to do with citizenship and shouldn't be conflated with it.

So what about a passport as a cheaper alternative? Well, technically, a passport DOES suffice as proof of citizenship in many cases, but not all. The value of a passport as proof of citizenship varies depending on where the individual was born and if their citizenship was conferred at birth, derived or obtained through naturalization. Here's what USCIS says:.
Are you a citizen born outside of the United States?
The citizenship of someone born outside of the United States, as the child of a U.S. citizen parent, could vary depending on the law in effect when the birth took place. In most cases citizens born outside the U.S. requires a combination of evidence showing at least one parent being a U.S. citizen when the child was born and having lived in the United States or its possessions for a period of time.

Are you a naturalized citizen or derivative citizen?

You can use your original Naturalization Certificate or Certificate of Citizenship as proof of citizenship. If you have lost either of your certificates, you can apply for a replacement using Form N-565.
The net of it is that the CCA 2000 confers citizenship upon adoptees who meet its requirements, but does NOT provide proof of citizenship or exempt adoptees from citizenship-related laws that apply to non-adopted citizens born outside of the U.S. For this reason, I strongly believe that providing our children with the best proof of citizenship – the certificate – should be at the top of every parenting to-do list.

I understand and share the fear that adoptive parents have right now that their children could be targeted and even detained, given the horrific regime controlling the government. I also agree that the cost of a certificate of citizenship is outrageous. But the two in fact have nothing to do with each other. Our children are sadly, wrong, and unfairly targets of sick, hateful people – this didn’t start in 2017. Denying them valuable proof of citizenship for any reason does nothing to solve that hatred, nor does it stop law enforcement from overstepping their boundaries.

Conflating these issues puts only one person at risk: the child. Even if deportation isn't in the picture, the peace of mind and the certificate provides is something every parent should give their child. So please, my fellow adoptive parents: put your frustrations and complaints aside, beg or borrow the money and set aside a day to do the application.

And then get busy working on behalf of ALL immigrants, not just those who came here through adoption.

ACLU's Know Your Rights



Terra said…
Excellent piece Margie. I agree.
Anonymous said…
Thank you. I cringe that parents spend $500.00 for a crib, $300.00 for a stroller, and $20,000+ to adopt and then freak out over the cost of legalizing and ensuring the status of their child. Money well spent.
Mom to X

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