Citizenship

Although children adopted from outside of the United States arrive here with the expectation that they will become U.S. citizens, many intercountry adoptees have been left without this critical legal safeguard. There are many reasons for the failure of intercountry adoption to ensure this protection: adoptive parent failure to complete the necessary applications; adoption agency failure to confirm that citizenship has been obtained by children placed through their services; legislative failures, as demonstrated by the gap left by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (which did not provide citizenship for intercountry adoptees 18 and older on its effective date, February 27, 2001) along with the harsh and rigid requirements of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

For some adoptees, the knowledge that they are not U.S. citizens comes too late: after they have committed a deportable crime and the U.S. judicial system, given the requirements of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 and other laws, has not choice but to deport. Deportations have been carried out, one of which resulted in the murder of the adoptee in his home country.

In the case of adoption from Korea, lack of citizenship has left some Korean adoptees stateless, making it impossible for them to obtain state and Federal aid for college and other services.  Some have returned to Korea in the hope of resolving their statelessness, and in doing so unintentionally complicate or lose the possibility of U.S. citizenship while making themselves eligible for Korean military and other service.

Korean Focus is speaking out on this issue through our petition for Citizenship for All US Intercountry Adoptees and our support for similar petitions. We encourage adoptive parents and adoptees to familiarize themselves with the laws around adoptee citizenship and illegal immigration.

Above all, we urge adoptive parents and adoptees to confirm their children’s and their citizenship status immediately and to take action to protect their rights.

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