With Trump’s immigration ban happening, many people are worried about immigrant friends and family and rightfully so. However, one group that hasn’t been talked about are those who have been adopted internationally. There is a loophole in the adoption legal system that allows for the deportation of internationally adopted children. This is not a new issue, but with this extra push to remove and ban immigrants, it causes quite an alarm for those of us who fall into this category. Just last year, a Korean adoptee named Adam Crasper who was adopted at the age of one and has live in the United States for over 40 years, was deported due to this failure in the adoption system. There has been a push for many years to get this flaw fixed, but not enough people are aware of it, and not enough politicians care. Now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Wait, don’t you become a citizen when you’re adopted” No, but that is what parents are told, that’s what makes the most logical sense, but that is not how the law is written. There’s a loophole in the law that parents are not aware of which leads to the proper paperwork not being filed. Confusing? I know, trust me, I have siblings and cousins adopted from Ethiopia and Taiwan who have gone through this very shitty process, learning the hard way. So let me try and break this down as much as possible.
There was this thing called the Child Citizenship Act (CCA) of 2000, which was passed in 2000 that gave “foreign-born children who did not acquire U.S. citizenship at birth through a U.S. citizen parent to acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon fulfillment of certain conditions while under the age of 18.”
Awesome, right? Yes. However, there’s a part two to this bill.
"A child born outside of the United States automatically becomes a citizen of the United States when all the following conditions have been fulfilled:"
· At least one of the child’s parents is a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization;
· The child is under 18 years of age;
· The child is residing in or has resided in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence.
This is the part that applies directly to adoptees. You can read the full thing with fancy language here. Basically, the act allows adoptees to become citizens upon the finalization of their adoption. In theory, it's a great idea. The problem is, it did not, and still does not cover those of us, who were adopted before the year 2000 and/or those who were over the age of 18 when this act went into effect (which was February 27, 2001).
Now, prior to this bill being passed, adoptive parents had to go and file for naturalization before the child turned 18. The issue with this is that most parents are not told this by the adoption agency and they have no clue they were missing paperwork. Now the kid turns 18 and they became ineligible for the automatic citizenship that is granted to adopted children, and they are not covered by this new CCA bill. Most parents, such as my own, only discovered there was a problem, because the child went and tried to apply for college, financial aid, a passport, register to vote, etc. anything that required proof of citizenship, only to discover, there is none and their child is in this weird and dangerous citizenship limbo and at risk of deportation with one wrong move.
According to the Adoptee Rights Campaign, an organization that is actively fighting to get this loophole fixed—at least 30,000 adoptees are in this citizenship limbo caused by poor legal systems and lack of communication. The good news is that if you happen to catch this before your child is 18, it’s easy to fix, just go file the paperwork. For those who catch it too late, and that’s most of us, it’s a giant pain in the ass that involves a lot of money, getting a judge to open your adoption case, tracking down paperwork that doesn’t exist, the blood of your firstborn, a sliver of the sun and that’s all assuming the child doesn’t get deported first. Just last year I went to help a friend do this process and just to get the initial application submitted was $800. It's absolutely ridiculous. You can read more about the process here.
Now that we are all aware of the problem, what do we do about this?
Well, the first thing is, if you have an international adoptee under the age of 18, make sure all your paperwork is done. Like, right now. Stop reading this and go. Even if your child is technically covered by the CCA, check anyway. You would be dumbfounded by how much paperwork the agencies fuck up or just don’t bother to file. For those like many of my family members, whom are over 18 and facing this problem, get started on the long, grueling process. Better to go through the bullshit and get it done than be deported. For everyone else, please spread this information so that people are aware. Lastly, join the Adoptee Rights Committee in demanding a change.
In 2015, the Adoptee Rights Committee introduced a bill to Congress called Adoptee Citizenship Act (ACA) of 2015, which would allow citizenship to all those adoptees that the CCA didn’t cover. Problem is, Congress is stalling it.
You can read all about this bill, the organization and how to get involved on their website. So please, get involved and share this information. It is beyond disgusting that people who came here as babies and young children are at risk of deportation due to a lazily written bill.