ACA 2018

Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018
[S. 2522, H.R. 5233]

Everyone should have equal rights as U.S. citizens if they were born of or adopted by a U.S. citizen parent. Inter-country adoptees urgently need to be granted their U.S. citizenship.

We individuals and organizations petition the United States Congress to support the Adoptee Citizenship Act (ACA) of 2018. This bipartisan bill provides U.S. citizenship to internationally adopted individuals who were legally adopted by U.S. citizen parents as children but never obtained U.S. citizenship status.


Without their rightful U.S. citizenship, adoptees are unable to vote and lack U.S. passports. Many face obstacles in securing student financial aid, home loans, Social Security cards, Social Security benefits, driver's licenses (due to the REAL ID Act), and more. In contrast, they had been adopted and brought to the U.S. with the promise of a better life. Despite difficulties, they have built their lives as Americans.

Lack of citizenship puts adoptees at an increasing risk of deportation. Those who have been deported suffer being separated from their families and the land they call home. Many deportees are struggling to survive without the language skills or employment qualifications needed in a different country’s culture. In 2004 in Brazil, a deported adoptee was murdered. In May 2017 in South Korea, a deported adoptee tragically ended his life.


Since the 1940s, an estimated 350,000 children have been internationally adopted by U.S. citizen parents. During this era, naturalization of internationally adopted children was a lengthy and costly process. Without proper notice, parents bore the responsibility to file for their children’s citizenship. Unfortunately, many adoptive parents did not fulfill this duty, simply because they were not made aware it was necessary.

Many parents had been granted their child’s state birth certificates, Social Security cards, or Military Dependent ID cards (for those who served in the Armed Forces). These documents gave the impression that their children were automatically citizens by Virtue of Adoption. However, this was not the case, and thousands of adoptees do not have U.S. citizenship today.

In 2000, Congress passed the Child Citizenship Act (CCA). The CCA intended to ensure that all inter-country adoptees of U.S. citizen parents receive automatic U.S. citizenship. It did not accomplish this goal, though, because it had a cutoff at age 18, which failed to cover adoptees born on or before February 27, 1983. As a result, it excluded an estimated 35,000 to upwards of 70,000 adoptees, based on recent research.


We appeal to our elected leaders in the House and Senate for passage of the 2018 Adoptee Citizenship Act. This urgent legislation will help secure adoptees’ safety and livelihood. The ACA will fulfill the intent of the 2000 Child Citizenship Act by granting automatic retroactive citizenship to intercountry adoptees. Adoptees are legal heirs of American families. Please ensure their equal rights as U.S. citizens. We thank you for your service to the public.