We, the undersigned, urge U.S. legislators and the adoption community to support the inclusion of the deported adoptee community in the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019. Due to a loophole in the Childhood Citizenship Act of 2000, U.S. citizenship was never secured for these individuals who were adopted into this country as children by U.S. citizen parents. To date, at least 50 intercountry adoptees in the U.S. have been deported to their countries of birth. While residing in the U.S., adoptees without citizenship faced barriers to accessing employment, health care, social security benefits and government issued identification. After being deported, they have struggled to survive and rebuild their lives in countries where they did not know the language, were unequipped to navigate the culture, and were separated from everyone they had ever known.
Anissa, an adoptee from Jamaica, was deported and separated from her family, including her 12 year old daughter Vanessa, over 14 years ago. When testifying at a Congressional briefing in September 2019, Vanessa shared:
“With my mother being deported to Jamaica when I was 12, I feel anxious at all times, wondering if something bad could happen to her while I’m thousands of miles away, helpless… I want her to be here with her family where she belongs.”
If inclusive, the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019 will grant automatic citizenship to people like Anissa. It will close the loophole left by the Childhood Citizenship Act of 2000 by ensuring the long awaited inclusion of all qualifying international adoptees adopted by U.S. citizen parents, regardless of the date on which the adoption was finalized.
Abandonment shadows adoptees’ lives and becomes one of our deepest traumas, as we experience the accumulated loss of family, culture, language, and community. Adoptees like Anissa have already experienced abandonment by their birth countries. However, when they were adopted to the United States, they were given a new life and identity. By deporting these adoptees, the U.S. government abandons them once again after promising them the same rights as any natural born child. We believe intercountry adoptees should not be detained or deported because multiple parties overlooked, neglected, or failed to take action to obtain citizenship for them.
Anissa, her daughter Vanessa, and the larger adoptee community have been waiting almost 20 years after passage of the Childhood Citizenship Act for a bill that includes all adoptees. Given the daily reality of their lives, impacted adoptees, deportees, and their loved ones cannot afford to wait anymore.
We urge legislators to include individuals who were adopted on all valid visas, including deported adoptees and those with orders of deportation, in H.R. 2731 and S.1554. We implore legislators to prevent further harm to the most vulnerable members of our adoptee community.
Thank you for your leadership in protecting the most vulnerable members of our adoptee community.
If you have any questions, please contact Megan at email@example.com