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ERLC Comments in Support of The Adoptee Citizenship Act

ERLC comments appear in the press release below by Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) highlighting our support of The Adoptee Citizenship Act.

“Southern Baptists have long prioritized adoption and recognize it as a central theme through Scripture. The Adoptee Citizenship Act closes a significant loophole that has unjustly left an entire population of adopted children without full U.S. citizenship, living for years in an unacceptable and uncertain reality. We’re glad to see this important, bipartisan legislation reintroduced and hope to see Congress act swiftly in passing it.”

Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Representatives Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.) and Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2024, which would grant U.S. citizenship to international adoptees who were legally adopted in the U.S. as children but lack citizenship status due to a loophole in the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

“Through no fault of their own, there are an estimated tens of thousands of people in the U.S. who were brought here as children to be adopted but never received citizenship status because of a gap in the law. The Adoptee Citizenship Act would close this loophole and provide much needed certainty for these adoptees, who were raised in the U.S. and built their lives here,” said Representative Smith. “These adoptees deserve full access to their rights as American citizens. We must get this legislation passed and signed into law to finally give these adoptees citizenship status in the place they call home.”
“As the father to two adopted children, I can’t imagine the uncertainty and anxiety faced by these adoptees who were legally adopted in our country, but are now being told they aren’t U.S. citizens,” said Representative Bacon. “While this situation was rectified for newly adopted children when the law was passed in 2000, adoptees from before that year were left in limbo land. Imagine being allowed to vote, paying into social security and enjoying other rights as a citizen, and then being told you are not a citizen. It makes zero sense, and this legislation corrects that egregious mistake.”
“For years, thousands of internationally-adopted children from American families across the country have had to live with uncertainty and fear without U.S. citizenship due to an oversight in the Child Citizenship Act,” said Senator Hirono. “The Adoptee Citizenship Act would provide a long overdue solution to fix this oversight by simply confirming the citizenship status of international adoptees who had already turned 18 when the Child Citizenship Act took effect. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to help ensure these adoptees are afforded the rights they deserve as U.S. citizens.”
“It is simply not right that international adoptees who were legally adopted in the United States are being denied citizenship due to a loophole in current law,” said Senator Collins. “Our bipartisan bill would address this loophole and allow these individuals to finally achieve their rightful status as American citizens.”

Families who adopted children from abroad were previously required to go through a lengthy process to naturalize and gain U.S. citizenship for their adopted children. Sometimes, the necessary paperwork was not entirely completed, and significant numbers of adoptees grew up for years unaware that they were living in the U.S. as non-citizens.
The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA) eliminated the need for many adoptive families to apply to naturalize their newly adopted children. Unfortunately, the 2000 CCA law only applied to future adoptees and adoptees who were under the age of 18 on its effective date; it did not apply retroactively to those adoptees who faced the same dilemma but aged into adulthood before the CCA took effect.
For these international adoptees, the U.S. is the place they grew up and the place they call home. Yet, through no fault of their own, they never received their citizenship and are living in uncertainty about their future. Without citizenship, these international adoptees face many barriers, such as having trouble applying for a passport, license, or student financial aid. In some cases, they have been deported to the country in which they were born, where they may have never lived and have no known family or friends.
The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2024 corrects this gap in the law by confirming international adoptees’ U.S. citizenship status, regardless of when they were adopted or their age. This important bill provides much needed certainty to adopted Americans who have had difficulties attending college, accessing banking services, and starting their careers simply because of paperwork and process oversights during their childhood.
A fact sheet for the Adoptee Citizenship Act can be found here.
The bill text can be found here.

The Adoptee Citizenship Act is endorsed by Adoptee Rights Campaign, Adoptees for Justice, Alliance for Adoptee Citizenship, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Family Coalition for Adoptee Citizenship, Korean American Grassroots Conference, National Alliance for Adoptee Equality, Niskanen Center, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), National Council for Adoption, National Immigration Forum, Center for Adoption Policy, and National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC).

Read original press release here.

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