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Deporting the Adopted

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Photo by Bess Hamiti on

It’s a problem that few know exist and that can have dire and life-threatening consequences. It’s a problem our family knows well.

According to Ashley Foster on between 25,000 and 49,000 international adoptees are in danger of being deported back to their countries of origin. Our daughter was one of those statistics. We adopted her in 1999 from an Eastern European nation and like many other adoptive parents of that time were not given proper immigration and citizenship instructions. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 became effective February 27, 2001 and granted citizenship to foreign-born adopted children by United States citizens. In order for the Act to make it through congress to be signed into law a compromise was reached. The anti-immigration faction demanded that the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 not be retroactive. This left thousands of adopted family members without US citizenship. The process of becoming a citizen is lengthy and costly.

We learned prior to our daughter’s eighteenth birthday that she was not a citizen of the United States and that we would need to initiate that process. This was the beginning of a years long walk through a quagmire of federal bureaucracy. As far as the government and the laws of the land were concerned, she was not an adopted family member but an immigrant. She would be treated as an immigrant without United States citizenship.

When an adoptee is deported to their country of origin the obstacles are overwhelming. They are dropped off in a culture that is foreign to them, have nothing to begin a new life, and do not understand the language. They have no friends or acquaintances and begin life in isolation trying to get employment. Some succumb to suicide, others to drugs and alcohol.

Our government should be better than this. Our nation was founded on basic Judeo-Christian principles. Family is important in the fabric of any nation. It is important in God’s economy. The laws of the land say that international adoption doesn’t make a family, only a family with an immigrant.

On March 8, 2018 Representatives Adam Smith (Wash.) and Chris Smith (N.J.), along with U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Mazie K. Hirono (Hawaii), introduced the bipartisan Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018. Representative Adam Smith said,  “Closing the existing loopholes in the Child Citizenship Act will ensure international adoptees are treated equally under U.S. law. This bill will positively impact thousands of Americans, by granting citizenship they should have had in the first place and fostering stability in their lives and communities. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this important legislation.”

April 30, 2018 Bill H.R. 5233 Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018 was referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. It sits there with a 3% chance of passage according to the government website, an indictment against a bureaucracy that has little sympathy toward Christian family values.

Thanks to a dedicated immigration lawyer my daughter became a United States citizen in December. My wife and I were there when she raised her hand and swore allegiance to our country. It was a moment of pride but I couldn’t shake the ironic feeling that she was committing herself to a legal system that had discounted her.


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