I didn’t realize this was a problem until tonight. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 awarded citizenship retroactively to what advocates estimated were more than 100,000 international adoptees under 18 who were already in the country when it went into effect in February 2001. Today, children who are adopted from abroad by US citizens generally receive automatic citizenship, and adoption agencies and embassies are better at informing parents about any follow-up they need to do.
There are estimated to still be tens of thousands of people who were adopted internationally by American parents between the 1950s and 1980s but never naturalized. They are in effect stateless. They are also potentially deportable to countries they don’t even remember.
The Adoptee Citizenship Act is proposed federal legislation that would grant citizenship to anyone who was adopted by a U.S. citizen regardless of when they turned 18. It would also allow those who have been deported to return to the United States. U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (MO), Mazie Hirono (HI), Susan Collins (ME), and Amy Klobuchar (MN) introduced the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019. A Virtual Rally will take place on Twitter on Wednesday, September 23rd at 2pm EST because HR2731 has still not passed the House. #Citizenship4Adoptees
Widespread adoption of children abroad by US citizens began in South Korea in the 1950s after the Korean War and then spread to other countries. It was initially less regulated than it is now. Advocates estimate there could be up to 18,000 from South Korea alone in this situation, along with an undetermined number from countries such as Venezuela, Germany, India, Guatemala, Vietnam and Iran.
Growing up, they were able to obtain Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses. Before the 1990s and early 2000s ushered in a stricter era of screening, many even received US passports, served in the US military and voted — unaware that they were not citizens.