I work to assure that all intercountry adoptees in the United States secure U.S. citizenship and can also readily prove it.
I represent intercountry adoptees who have been adopted by U.S. citizen parents. Despite a final adoption, intercountry adoptees often have significant issues related to their own 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 qualified for automatic U.S. citizenship 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 upon their adoption and must typically go through a long and expensive immigration process to naturalize as U.S. citizens. As adults now, they are essentially stateless, are still 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.
For those who have citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, automatic citizenship may not resolve a crucial issue: 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 have. For some, it means an inability to work, the inability to obtain needed but basic identification, and the denial of benefits and privileges all U.S citizens enjoy. This must be fixed.
Understanding the Issue
US immigration law is one of the most complex areas of the law in the world. Understanding the issue of US citizenship for intercountry adoptees can be difficult. Here’s a breakdown of the issue as well as what can be done to fix it.
While my legal work in most of these cases is 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 adoptees 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 also take action now.