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Collins, Bipartisan Group Introduce Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021. The bipartisan bill would close a loophole in the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA), which has prevented internationally-adopted children, who are now adults, from receiving U.S. citizenship despite being raised by American parents.


“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 to allow these individuals to finally become American citizens. I encourage our colleagues to support it.”


The CCA guarantees citizenship to most international adoptees, but the law only applies to adoptees who were under the age of 18 when the law took effect on February 27, 2001. The loophole denies citizenship to adoptees who were age 18 or over in February 2001, even though they were legally adopted as children by U.S. citizens and raised in the United States. The legislation introduced today fixes this problem by making citizenship automatic for international adoptees who were legally adopted by U.S. citizens as children, regardless of how old they were when the Child Citizenship Act took effect.


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 no known family.


The Adoptee Citizenship Act has garnered widespread praise among the nation’s leading adoption advocacy organizations.


“Children adopted into American families grow up on principles of productive work and independence,” said Joy Alessi, Director, Adoptee Rights Campaign. “Without Citizenship, adoptees grow into adulthood, unable to pursue their dreams and lack a sustainable way forward. The Adoptee Citizenship Act is a simple solution to ensuring that all adopted Americans are treated equally. We thank Senators Blunt, Hirono, Collins, Klobuchar, Murkowski, and Duckworth for prioritizing an early introduction, and look forward to advancing support for the bill.”


“The Adoptee Citizenship Act represents an opportunity for Congress to positively change lives in a deserved and meaningful way,” said A.B. Cruz III, President, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. “Through this bipartisan legislation, tens of thousands of international adoptees will be granted the citizenship they deserve. We thank Senators Blunt, Hirono, Collins, Klobuchar, Duckworth, and Murkowski for their continued leadership. We urge the Senate to support the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021.”


“NCFA strongly supports the bi-partisan efforts to remedy the citizenship issue for international adoptees who were adopted by American citizens,” said Chuck Johnson, National Council For Adoption. “All of these children/individuals entered the U.S. legally with a clear path to citizenship, but many American families were confused by the complicated visa issuance process that allowed some to become citizens upon entry in the U.S.  while others were required to complete additional steps in order for their children to become U.S. citizens.  The result has been many thousands of adoptees who are entitled to U.S. citizen unknowingly without it. The Adoptee Citizenship Act will remedy this unintended consequence by recognizing  that citizenship that was inherently promised to them when they were legally brought to the U.S. for the purpose of being adopted by an American citizen.”


“The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) is so grateful to Senators Blunt, Hirono, Klobuchar, Collins, Duckworth, and Murkowski for introducing this long awaited legislative fix, to fully enshrine in U.S. law the legal precedent of treating children who are adopted as equal to biological children,” said Taylor M. Draddy, Director of Policy, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. “This bill will help remove an impossible barrier for adoptees whose adoptive parents did not know they needed to take additional steps to seek U.S. citizenship for their children after their adoption finalizations. The adoption community is grateful for congressional champions whose initiative and leadership will solve this problem once and for all for adopted children of U.S. citizens.”


“For too long thousands of American international adoptees have been denied rightful U.S. citizenship,” said Diane B. Kunz, Executive Director, Center for Adoption Policy. “While the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 granted automatic citizenship to most foreign-born adoptees, it failed to cover all international adoptees. We must seize this opportunity to pass the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021 which would give all adoptees who were lawfully brought to the United States by U.S. citizen parents the U.S. citizenship which, as the sons and daughters of American parents, they are rightfully owed.”


“The family is the fundamental unit of society and it must be safeguarded,” said Kurt Cappelli, partner, Family Coalition for Adoptee Citizenship. “Adoption creates a family and providing citizenship to all intercountry adoptees helps preserve the family.”


“Holt International is grateful to the Co-Sponsors for introducing the Adoptee Citizenship Act which will provide citizenship for the adoptees who have been denied this fundamental right,” said Phil Littleton, President and CEO, Holt International. “This critical legislation is long overdue and Holt will do all we can to assure this becomes law.”