A Brief Explanation of Why International Adoptees Get Deported

If the United States ever was the greatest country on earth, it is not reflected in how it treats its foreign-born citizens. “As if born to” my ass.

Light of Day Stories

Yesterday the New York Times published an article that is getting a lot of attention: “Deportation a ‘Death Sentence’ to Adoptees After a Lifetime in the U.S.” 

I made the mistake of reading the comments on the tweet of the article, and wanted to clarify a few questions that repeatedly came up.

Why weren’t they citizens? Why did Obama deport them? Why did Trump deport them?

Until 2001, internationally adopted children were not automatically citizens. It was up to their adoptive parents to naturalize them.

Some parents got their children naturalized; some didn’t. Why not? They didn’t know. Their adoption agencies didn’t tell them. They forgot. They lost track of time. They didn’t want to. They found out late and tried to but the government agencies fouled up with paperwork.

Some adoptees assumed they were citizens automatically by being adopted to the U.S., and then found out as adults…

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4 thoughts on “A Brief Explanation of Why International Adoptees Get Deported

  1. Until 2000 international adoptees were no different then other ‘alien residents’… citizenship had to be applied for.

    “Wrenching reminder of a problem the United States urgently needed to address: adoptees from abroad who never obtained American citizenship. The Adoptee Rights Campaign, an advocacy group, estimates that 35,000 adult adoptees in the United States may lack citizenship, which was not granted automatically in the adoption process before 2000.” quote from the NYT article

    As of 2000 adoptees of US citizens born elsewhere are automatically given citizenship-which is not fair! If a bride or a groom or a Green card holder has to apply, so too should the adoptee’s parents have to sponsor their so-called child for citizenship. The Constitution advises Equal Justice Under the Law- not special treatment for any ‘chosen’ few.

    When I married a man from North Africa, I had to sponsor him for Permanent Alien Resident Status despite that his father was a renowned scholar, rector of the University of Algiers, and at the time, a Cabinet Minister for the Country of Algeria. INS demanded he return to Algeria and apply form there… I reared my head and said NO! I had citizenship and quoted much law that said the government was violating my Constitutional rights.. He stayed and received his permanent residence. The marriage disintegrated, but if he has citizenship now it is through me because I was his sponsor.

    Had my daughter lived, because she was not born in the US, she had the choice at 21 of US or the other country’s citizenship. Had she not chosen the US, she would have had to apply for it. At that time dual citizenship was not an option.

    Many people assume citizenship globally is a given-from refugees pre- and post WW II (and before) to Green Card Holders even today. Even so-called war brides had to apply for citizenship.

    The US Government -as usual-causes slippery slopes when granting automatic citizenship to adoptees because they are no different from a bride or a groom who though joined by law are not related. As an adoptee I don’t want more than what the average citizen has, but I do want equity,eq

    • Marriage and adoption, while they have similarities, are simply not the same thing when it comes to how adoptees are treated. The “as if born to” clause in adoption either needs to be taken seriously or thrown out.

      • The similarity is that in either adoption or marriage a contract is made between persons not directly related. Brides and Grooms and adoptees are in-laws or appointed by courts. And if it is believed that a bad marriage is different than a bad adoption, those who believe are simply naïve.

        Women are far more vulnerable than most -including adoptees-because the laws do not protect them from violence of their significant others-not even restraining orders do this because cops say they cannot do anything unless there is evidence that the order was ignored or she has physical wounds. This is akin to the social service agencies not seeing the abused child’s affect which shouts abuse and great distress. The battered woman ends up in the morgue and the child often will too. Abuse is abuse. And brutality always falls upon the vulnerable because few can fight back.

        My point was and is that adoptees should receive no special treatment because they are adopted, any more than a darker skinned person should be granted dispensations/privilege because of melanin levels.
        Discrimination is discrimination, no matter what jargon is used to excuse it.

        The final adoption orders I’ve seen -and I have seen many-say nothing about the adoptee being ‘born’ to X, Y or Z. What they do say is the adoptee has the same rights as a child born to the adoptive parents. Mine says that ” ..in the best interests of the child…” ‘the said child (me) has equal rights , privileges, and immunities of children born in lawful wedlock.” Ironically I did indeed get equal treatment as the child born in wedlock-I was physically, verbally and emotionally abused and sexually molested.. first from my parents, then from my adoptive parents. ‘Born in wedlock’ makes it appear that my mother was unmarried which was not true. ‘In the best interests of the child’ is the most hated phrase to any one who has been abused and harmed by a system who has no clue that we are far more vulnerable than they care to see, and in grave danger from the very people they handed us to, or to those separated from their siblings and family who they knew and remembered. Adopted or not, too many children in the US are in danger while agencies turn their heads and society puts labels of inferiority upon them. Few in this society take protection of the child seriously, whether natural, IVF, adopted or surrogates… Most everyone is all about me! me! me! Just as they are oh so certain that they know more or better than another.

        Adoptions should be banned -period, whether domestic or international.

        As for the NYT report it is biased and covers up the real truths. Clay was blindsided by all parties-his native country who allowed non-natives to take him across the big water, the admitting nation who knows zilch about the plight of adoptees or the culture shock and deprivation of the international adoptee to make his/her situation much different than we who at least speak the language. Added to Clay’s great difficulties were his age and his memories. This I understand only too well. Time stole his language and his culture, but it didn’t blunt the pain of separation and abandonment. Sadly, like me and others, he wasn’t given caretakers who were empathetic and sensitive to his plights, and he had no support from anyone. It is no small wonder that he tragically took his own life. The little boy who left Korea just grew physically to ‘adult’ stature, but that lost child inside ruled his raison d’etre. There was no one there to love and understand him, and he had no reserves to fight back against all that was against him.

        Clay was deported because he violated US law. Being adopted has nothing to do with his deportation. He was undocumented and a felon. Those are grounds for deportation. ‘Alien’ felons doing time are under deportation orders during their imprisonment and the deportation is effective immediately upon their release from incarceration. For Clay, he was unfortunately bi-polar and not able to receive treatment while serving his sentence. But again this has nothing to do with his status as adoptee.

      • Being an international adoptee had *everything* to do with the deportation. He was “undocumented” because he was never naturalized as a child. If he had been born to his adoptive parents, even if they had been outside the US at the time, he would have been an American citizen. This is where you can’t directly compare marriage and adoption. Adoption is a legal substitute for birthing children. The decrees declare in some way that the child is “as if born to” the adoptive parents. And I’ve seen plenty of adoption records myself. It is not always in those exact words, but that is the intent. If Phillip Clay had truly been treated as the actual, legal son of his adoptive parents – as it says in our laws that he should – he never would have been subject to deportation.

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