Adoptee Citizenship

There is a belief among adoptive parents with younger children that, because of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, all intercountry adoptees have been granted U.S. citizenship. This is far from the case. Citizenship was not provided for intercountry adoptees 18 and older on February 27, 2001, the date on which the CCA 2000 went into effect. This, plus the harsh application of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which prevents the consideration of any extenuating circumstances in judgments, has led to adoptee detainments, exiles, deportations, and in at least one case, an adoptee death. PPL (Pound Pup Legacy) maintains a list of deportation cases that you will want to take a look at if you haven't already. I'm aware of several more not on this list, so as bad as the situation looks, it's worse.

I've been astonished at some of the comments over the years that suggest that adoptee deportations are the adoptee's fault for running afoul of the law and appropriate in these situations.  This misses the point entirely.  Adoptees, unlike other adult immigrants - and yes, adoptive parents, your children are immigrants and you do them a terrible disservice by pretending they are not - had no voice in their arrival to the U.S.  I have heard their situation described much like those of the children of immigrant families who are now seeking support under the Dream Act.  But there's still a difference: they have the support of their families, either here or in their home country should they and their parents be deported. This isn't the case for adoptees, who are returned to birth countries they no longer know, without the language, utterly alone.

Adoptee deportations simply must end.  Adoptees who did not receive automatic citizenship under the CCA 2000 must receive it immediately.

Although children adopted from outside of the United States arrive here with the expectation that they will become U.S. citizens, many intercountry adoptees have been left without this critical legal safeguard. There are many reasons for the failure of intercountry adoption to ensure this protection: adoptive parent failure to complete the necessary applications; adoption agency failure to confirm that citizenship has been obtained by children placed through their services; legislative failures, as demonstrated by the gap left by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (which did not provide citizenship for intercountry adoptees 18 and older on its effective date, February 27, 2001) along with the harsh and rigid requirements of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

For some adoptees, the knowledge that they are not U.S. citizens comes too late: after they have committed a deportable crime and the U.S. judicial system, given the requirements of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 and other laws, has no choice but to deport. Deportations have been carried out, one of which resulted in the murder of the adoptee in his home country. In the case of adoption from Korea, lack of citizenship has left some Korean adoptees stateless, making it impossible for them to obtain state and Federal aid for college and other services.  Some have returned to Korea in the hope of resolving their statelessness, and in doing so unintentionally complicate or lose the possibility of U.S. citizenship while making themselves eligible for Korean military and other service.

Take action. Spread the word about the inequities. Contact your legislators. Do not allow one more intercountry adoptee face this devastating loss.

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