By / Apr 14

Adoption is a priority of the ERLC’s work, both in policy advocacy and family ministry. Jeff Pickering, Chelsea Patterson Sobolik, and Travis Wussow talk about three adoption issues you should be aware of. They cover the effects of the pandemic on adoption, the Adoptee Citizenship Act, and an important case at the Supreme Court for child welfare providers.

At the end of the episode, the crew is joined by our awesome audio engineer, Gary Lancaster to wish him a farewell, say thanks, and reflect on his decade with the ERLC. 

Resources from the Conversation

By / Mar 26

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker
United States House of Representatives
1236 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Jerry Nadler
Chairman
House Committee on the Judiciary
United States House of Representatives
2132 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives
2468 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Jim Jordan
Ranking Member
House Committee on the Judiciary
United States House of Representatives
2056 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader McCarthy, Chairman Nadler and Ranking Member Jordan,

We are a diverse group of leaders representing a broad range of institutions that serve communities around the country and around the world. We are writing to bring your attention to a common-sense bill that ensures adopted individuals are treated as equal to biological individuals under U.S. law.

Prior to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, the administrative steps required of families adopting internationally were unnecessarily burdensome. The process included applying for and moving through a lengthy naturalization process for their children, in addition to the lengthy and costly adoption process. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 granted automatic citizenship to all foreign-born children brought to the United States, who had at least one parent who was a U.S. Citizen. Unfortunately, that Act only applied to adoptees under the age of 18 when the bill was enacted, leaving an entire population of adopted children without full U.S. citizenship.

The Adoptee Citizenship Act closes the loophole to provide immediate citizenship to these individuals already adopted by U.S. citizens, yet left out of the previous bill. This bill solves the innumerable problems these adopted Americans have had to endure because of their lack of legal immigration status. This has included challenges in attending college, accessing banking services, or starting their careers

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) and Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) recently reintroduced this important bipartisan bill. Adopting from other countries is a privilege. Not every nation chooses to participate in intercountry adoption, and the United States ought to respect the countries that do choose to participate, by quickly securing permanent citizenship for the thousands of adoptees who do not currently have citizenship. Once an adoption is finalized, an adoptee should be treated the same as a biological child. These adoptees were brought here lawfully and legally and deserve the full protection of U.S. law.

We strongly urge Congress to swiftly pass the bipartisan Adoptee Citizenship Act to provide a permanent legal remedy for the thousands of sons and daughters of U.S. citizens who were left behind and not granted American citizenship. 

We thank you for your commitment to adoptees, and we look forward to working with you on this important bill.

Respectfully,

Russell Moore
President
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Scott Arbeiter
President
World Relief

Joy Alessi
Director
Adoptee Rights Campaign

Lucy Armistead
Executive Director
All Blessings International

James An
President
Korean American Federation of Los Angeles

Becky Belcore
Executive Director
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium

Kurt Capelli
Co-founder
Family Coalition for Adoptee Citizenship

Chuck Johnson
President & CEO
National Council For Adoption

Heidi Bruegel Cox
Executive Vice President, General Counsel
The Gladney Center

Brian Kim
President
Korean American Civic Empowerment and Leadership

Kristie De Peña
VP of Policy, Dir. of Immigration
Niskanen Center

Dongchan Kim
President
Korean American Civic Empowerment for Community

James R. Fisher
Executive Director
Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation

Tammy Kim
Managing Director
Korean American Center/Korean Community Services

Genie Gillespie
President
Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys

Walter Kim
President
National Association of Evangelicals

Chris Palusky
President & CEO
Bethany Christian Services

Hyosoon Park
President
San Diego Korean Pungmul Institute

Silvia Patton
President
Korean American Women’s Association of the USA

Angie Penrose
Executive Director
Building Arizona Families Adoption Agency

Wonseok Song
Executive Director
Korean American Grassroots Conference

Phyllis Stephenson
Executive Director 
Carolina and ABC Adoption Services

Professor Suhyun Suh
Coordinator
Korea Corner at Auburn University

SukChan Yu
President 
Korean Society of Dallas

By / Sep 29

This week’s episode was originally scheduled to be an interview with fellow adoption advocate, McLane Layton, on the need for Congress to pass the Adoptee Citizenship Act. 

But then, after the passing of Supreme Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the high court vacancy. The ERLC team circled up after the nomination to talk about Judge Barrett’s incredible biography and inspiring career before turning to Chelsea Patterson Sobolik and Jeff Pickering’s interview with Layton about this important adoption issue.

Guest Biography

McLane Layton is the Founder and President of Equality for Adopted Children (EACH). She previously served as Legislative Counsel to former U.S. Senator Don Nickles (R–Okla.) from 1990 to 2005. Layton holds a Juris Doctor from Oral Roberts University and a Masters in Psychology from George Mason University. 

Resources from the Conversation

By / Sep 23

Adoption is a central theological theme throughout Scripture. God has adopted us and welcomed us into the family of God. (Gal. 4:4-6). As Paul wrote, those “led by the Spirit are the children of God” (Rom. 8:14). All children of God receive the spirit of adoption. This theological theme carries practical application for our families and communities. As followers of Christ, we are called to care for the vulnerable and oppressed, including orphans (James 1:27, Isaiah 1:17). 

For many vulnerable children in foreign countries, intercountry adoption is their only opportunity to grow up in a safe, permanent, and loving family. Intercountry adoption also provides children access to needed medical, therapeutic, and educational resources. In a world full of children in need, intercountry adoption is an essential measure of the Christian faith. 

Our government has an important role to play in ensuring the protection and welfare of children. An important aspect of child welfare policy is to remove barriers to adoption so that families are able to welcome children safely into their homes. Unfortunately, there have been many obstacles to intercountry adoption. 

What is the problem?

Prior to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, the administrative steps for an adoptive family were unnecessarily burdensome. In addition to the lengthy adoption process, families had to engage in a lengthy naturalization process for their children. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 streamlined the process, and granted automatic citizenship to all foreign-born children brought to the United States, who had at least one parent who was a U.S. Citizen. While the intercountry adoption process remains a lengthy one, taking anywhere from one to four years, adoptive families no longer have to worry about the lengthy naturalization process.

Unfortunately, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 did not include adoptees who were 18 and older when the law took effect. This loophole left people legally adopted as children and raised in the United States without citizenship. The exclusion resulted in numerous difficulties for impacted adoptees. Because of a lack of citizenship, everyday activities for these individuals like obtaining a driver’s license, receiving financial aid at college, applying for jobs, working for the government, or traveling abroad are restricted.

What does the Adoptee Citizenship Act do?

The Adoptee Citizenship Act fixes this problem by making citizenship automatic for international adoptees who were legally adopted by U.S. citizens as children, regardless of their age when the Child Citizenship Act took effect.

The legislation was introduced by Reps. Rod Woodall (R–Ga.) and Adam Smith (D–Wash.), and by Senators Roy Blunt (R–Mo.), Mazie K. Hirono (D–Hawaii), and provides equity to these children, now adults, who should have every legal right of any other child of U.S. citizens. 

When an adoption is finalized, the adoptee is treated by the law as if he or she had been born to the adoptive parents. The adoptee should also receive the same legal rights and privileges as natural born children. This important bill provides a permanent legal remedy for the thousands of sons and daughters of U.S. citizens who were left behind and not granted American citizenship. 

Why should Christians care about the Adoptee Citizenship Act?

Adopting from other countries is a privilege. Not every nation chooses to participate in intercountry adoption, and the United States should respect the countries that choose to participate by quickly securing permanent citizenship for the thousands of adoptees who are currently without.

Rather than make the adoption process more difficult, our government should make it easier to adopt these children in need of a family. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 rightly eased the burden on adopting families, and the Adoptee Citizenship Act continues that work by closing the loophole to provide immediate citizenship to these children already adopted by U.S. citizens yet left out of the previous bill. Christians should seek to promote the welfare of vulnerable children, both domestic and abroad.

What’s next?

The Adoptee Citizenship Act has large bipartisan and bicameral support. The ERLC is engaged with a broad coalition invested in child welfare to urge members of Congress to swiftly pass this bill and secure permanent citizenship for the thousands of impacted adoptees. The bill’s passage would be an important step to ensuring that adoptees are treated the same way under the law as natural born citizens.

ERLC intern Justin McDowell contributed to this article.


The ERLC strongly urges Congress to pass the bipartisan Adoptee Citizenship Act to provide a permanent legal remedy for the thousands of sons and daughters of U.S. citizens who were left in the gap of uncertainty. A great step you can take today on behalf of vulnerable children is to call your Representative and Senators to ask them to support the Adoptee Citizenship Act. To find your members of Congress and for more information on this bill, click here.