All intercountry adoptees in the United States should have the security of U.S. citizenship and the documents to prove it.
I represent intercountry adoptees who, as children, were adopted by U.S. citizen parents. Despite the adoption, however, many intercountry adoptees have significant issues related to their U.S. citizenship. Those issues are typically two-fold:
- Securing U.S. citizenship, even though they were adopted in the U.S. as children and have typically known no other country but the United States.
- Proving U.S. citizenship even though they may have acquired U.S. citizenship automatically under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
Both issues are fraught with difficulty and may come with life-altering repercussions. Making it worse, U.S. law currently excludes older intercountry adoptees—those born prior to March 1983—from acquiring citizenship through the adoption. Instead, they must typically go through a long and expensive immigration process to naturalize as U.S. citizens. As adults today, they are considered immigrants, and are subject to deportation if they commit a crime or are not found to be in the country properly. This is fundamentally wrong.
Questions and answers about US citizenship for intercountry adoptees, including how Congress could fix the problem.
For those who have secured citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, it may not resolve the crucial issue of proving it. If adoptive parents did not take additional steps to obtain a U.S. passport or a Certificate of Citizenship, intercountry adoptees with this issue often face a byzantine and expensive process to prove what they already know and have. For some, it means an inability to work, the inability to obtain basic identification documents, and the denial of benefits and privileges all U.S citizens enjoy. This must be fixed.
While my legal work in most of these cases is low bono or pro bono, adult intercountry adoptees are still often required to pay significant fees to apply for citizenship or to request a Certificate of Citizenship.
I encourage all adopted people and their allies to support the work of adoptee-led groups that are advocating to change federal law to eliminate the current discriminatory loophole in the CCA. You can do your part today by asking your representatives to support the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021.