Our U.S. Congress has again failed to pass legislation that would grant citizenship to all international adoptees. This is deeply disappointing news, especially for those adoptees who have been deported.
Per the Adoptee Rights Campaign from their Facebook page, “S.967, the Adoptee Citizenship Act, did not pass. Unfortunately, this means H.R. 1593, the House companion bill, is also lost despite passage earlier this year…Though it is a sad day, we remain hopeful. Discussions for renewed strategies are taking place. ARC will post related updates in the next Congress.”
ARC and other organizations (among them, Adoptee Rights Law Center and Adoptees for Justice) and individuals have worked hard for years on the citizenship bill. The legislation would have granted citizenship to thousands of international adoptees, including those who have been deported.
Through no fault of their own, thousands of international adoptees do not have U.S. citizenship: their adoptive parents thought wrongly that citizenship was automatic; the paperwork for citizenship was wrongly filed, got lost, or was inaccurately processed; the adoption agencies did not provide information or oversight to the parents and families, requiring them to get citizenship for adopted children; and other reasons.
Those adoptees are now in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and older. Their legal status affects their quality of life, their peace of mind, their access to Social Security, and their connections with their families, including parents, spouses, children, and grandchildren.
The current failed legislation would have applied to adoptees who were 18 or older when the Child Citizenship Act was passed. That law granted US citizenship to international adoptees who were younger than 18 when the bill passed in 2000.
Thousands of adoptees do not hold citizenship; many might not even know it. They might find out when they vote (non-citizens can be prosecuted for voting), or get in trouble with the law (serving their time and then being deported), or apply for Medicare and other benefits at retirement.
For adoptees who have been deported, this is especially disappointing news. They thought as adopted children that they had “forever families” here in the U.S., and considered themselves Americans. One of the writers in our book “Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees” is Mike Davis. He’s 60 years old, a grandfather, and is alone in Addis Ababa where he was deported 17 years ago.
No international adoptee should ever be deported.
Mike, like other international adoptees, arrived here in the US as a child with the legal permission and oversight of both Ethiopia (the “sending” country) and the United States, to be part of his American family, including his adoptive father who was a U.S. Army officer.
Please keep these adoptees in your heart. Maybe say prayers for them, and for the granting of citizenship. This is an especially hard time of year for family separations and loss, and these adoptees are often struggling and alone.
Feel free to contact me if you want further information and/or to help the deported adoptees.