Bastard Nation Analysis and Endorsement of
The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2015
This report will be updated when appropriate.
A shorter bullet point version of this report is here
Until 2000 children adopted internationally by a US citizen were required to undergo a naturalization process prescribed by US law. Depending on the type of visa the child traveled under to enter the US, some were granted automatic citizenship while others gained citizenship only after their adoptive parents “re-adopted” them in the US following procedures outlined by federal and individual state law.
Unfortunately, many adoptive parents did not check citizenship status at the time of adoption or follow through on the citizenship process. Some say they were unaware of naturalization requirements and believed citizenship was automatic upon adoption finalization. Some claim to have been misled by their adoption agencies, courts, lawyers, or federal immigration authorities. Some believed that it was up to the adoptee, at the age of majority, to choose their citizenship status. In some cases adoptive parents disrupted the adoption, and either “rehomed” the children they brought to the US or turned them over to the state foster care system where they lingered with no legal closure.
Decades later these misunderstandings and failures led to legal problems—including deportation proceedings– for international adoptees years after their adoptions were were assumed “finalized” and citizenship granted. Most of these adoptees had no idea that they were not US citizens until they attempted something as simple as registering to vote or were convicted of minor crimes—even misdemeanors—and fell under the gaze of government authorities.
The passage of the federal Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (text) attempted to remedy this situation by granting automatic citizenship to those 21 and younger adopted internationally on or after February 27, 2000, the effective date of the legislation.
Those adopted before that date were left behind, subject to federal investigation and possible deportation under the old system. The situation became worse after 9/11 when legal identity and proof of citizenship came under critical scrutiny by federal, state, and local governments. Since then, the number of international adoptees deported or in the deportation pipeline has grown dramatically Most have been convicted of minor non-violent offenses particularly controlled substance possession; others reportedly investigated and threatened with deportation for simply applying for a Pell Grant or Social Security benefits. One absurd case involved German adoptee, Mary Anne Gehris, an administrative assistant and mother of two in Covington, Georgia, who in 1998 applied for citizenship so she could vote and accept scholarship money. She admitted on her application that ten years earlier she had been convicted of misdemeanor battery for pulling a woman’s hair during a “spat” over a boyfriend, had done a year’s probation, and community service time. She avoided deportation when the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole granted her a pardon to keep her in the US. She became a US citizen in 2001.
The federal government keeps no statistics on the number of deported adoptees or how many adoptees are in the US without US citizenship. We are therefore forced to rely on media reports on individual deportation cases. The most complete documentation is located on the website of the adoption watchdog Pound Pup Legacy. Researchers however, say that the number of “illegal adoptees” can go as high as 15,000. Many may not be aware of their “illegal” status and some may not even know they are adopted. To make matters worse, those who learn they aren’t citizens are fearful of coming forward to apply for citizenship because under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1996 they can be charged as undocumented by INS/Ice and subject to deportation, The law gives judges little discretion to stay deportations.
Currently, America’s “illegal adoptees” cannot gain permanent resident status. They cannot legally hold jobs or driver licenses or register vehicles, open bank accounts, join the military, receive security clearances, apply for US passports, or receive any number of government entitlements—including Social Security which they or their or their spouses have paid in to.
Rudi Richards/Udo Ackerman. Adoptee deported to Germany; Army vet
What we do know is that the majority of adoptee deportees are Asian and Latino, most adopted as infants or toddlers by white parents, some military. Some deportees, such as Rudi Richards/Udo Ackerman (Germany) and Monte Haimes/Ho-Kyu-Han (Korea) in fact, are veterans whose status wasn’t flagged when they enlisted in the military. A number of deportees, such as Adam Crapser (Korea) and Jennifer Haynes(India) were victims of child physical and sexual abuse, disrupted adoptions, and abusive foster care.
Adoptee deportees have little or no memory of their countries of origin. They have no native-language skills, and no family, friends, or support system in their first countries. Most have no means of employment in their original countries due not only to those limitations, but because those governments severed citizenship when the child was adopted to the US. News reports indicate that deported adoptees often end up in homeless shelters and the streets—or worse– when returned to their countries of origin.
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