I work as an ally to assure that all intercountry adoptees in the United States are assured U.S. citizenship and are also readily able to prove it.
I represent intercountry adoptees who have been adopted in the United States by U.S. citizen parents. Despite being adopted, 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 obtaining automatic 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 considered immigrants, and are subject to deportation at any time given the current political climate surrounding immigration in the United States. 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.
While my legal work in 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.
Organizations Working on This
I encourage all adoptees and their allies to support the work of national adoptee-led groups that are advocating to change federal law to eliminate the current discriminatory loophole in the CCA. At least two groups are working on this issue:
Adoptee Rights Campaign. The Adoptee Rights Campaign (ARC) is a diverse group of intercountry adoptees and allies striving to educate, organize and advocate for adoptee rights. These include access to critical adoption, immigration, and other vital identity documentation. Its goal is to ensure that all intercountry adoptees have the citizenship they should have received when they were brought into the country as children for adoption into American families.
Adoptees for Justice. Adoptees for Justice is an intercountry adoptee-led organization whose mission is to educate, empower, and organize transracial and transnational adoptee communities to achieve just and humane adoption, immigration, and restorative justice systems. Its first project is to educate, organize and advocate for an Adoptee Citizenship Act that is inclusive of all adoptees.