The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA 2000) was passed with the intention of providing automatic U.S. citizenship for international adoptees. It has, however, a serious loophole: its provisions do not apply to adoptees who were 18 year of age or older when it went into effect on February 27, 2001.
Because of this gap, many intercountry adoptees (estimates have been as high as 23,000 U.S. adoptees from Korea alone) have been left without this critical legal safeguard. There are two primary reasons for this: adoption agency failure to confirm that citizenship has been obtained by children placed through their services and adoptive parent failure to complete the necessary requirements.
When agencies and parents fail to uphold their responsibilities, adoptees bear the outcome. Some obtain citizenship through their own efforts, but those who do not (sometimes because they are unaware they are not citizens) are at risk of violating U.S. Federal law. They can do this by representing themselves as citizens upon return to the United States at any port of entry (including Canada and Mexico), applying for public benefits (including Federal education aid), or voting in Federal or other elections. Worse still, adoptees without citizenship who commit a deportable offense face separation from the only family and country they know, with devastating impact.
The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2015, introduced on November 10, 2015 by Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, will amend the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 to provide all intercountry adoptees with the legal protection of U.S. citizenship. It will secure the legal status of older intercountry adoptees, in spite of the failures of the agencies and adoptive parents to complete the naturalization process. On April 19, the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC), 18 Million Rising, Gazillion Strong, and the Adoptee Rights Campaign (ARC) are sponsoring the Adoptee Citizenship Act Day of Action in Washington, DC and around the country. KAAN joins these organizations in support of adoptee citizenship. Voice your support for universal citizenship for intercountry adoptees by doing any of the following:
- Contact your senators by phone, via their online contact forms, with a letter or on social media and urge them to support S. 2275 – Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2015.
- If you’re a blogger or writer, write a post or article about adoptee citizenship to raise awareness of this intercountry adoption failure.
- Using the hashtag #CitizenshipForAllAdoptees, devote your April 19 social media activity to intercountry adoptee citizenship.
Intercountry adoptees were brought to the United States without a voice, but with the promise of a permanent family and life. Without U.S. citizenship, these are at risk. Please raise your voice in support of #CitizenshipForAllAdoptees to bring this injustice to an end.