On June 21, 2022, the Nonprofit Organization Adoptees for Justice held a Story Circle to bring awareness to the experiences of adoptees living without citizenship. They elevated the voices of two adoptees who live in the United States and two who were deported. Joe, Jang, Daniel, and Emily were all able to share their stories and struggles in their advocacy for the Adoptive Citizenship Act. This Act would grant citizenship to all intercountry adoptees regardless of age, resolving a technical oversight in existing law. Ensuring adoptees have the same rights as their biological and domestically adopted siblings as these adoptees are American.

In everyday life, it is easy to forget how citizenship touches everything in life from having a job, getting an education, saving for retirement, and accessing social security. Hearing from Joe and Daniel, it is heartbreaking to hear from people that have grown up American, taught to be valuable to society only to be expelled from their country. Joe has been deported back to his birth country Morocco, after living in the United States since 1972. When he got to Morocco in 2020, Joe had no money, contacts, resources, or skills to get a job, nor does he speak Arabic. Joe said, “These children did not choose to come to the US, and it’s not fair to raise them and throw them away like trash.” Daniel faced similar circumstances when he got deported back to Brazil, where he didn’t know the culture or language. Like all these adoptees, Daniel considers himself 100% American, even if he is a deported American. Jang and Emily currently live in the US and have both been adopted from South Korea. While they have faced different circumstances, both have faced the uncertainty of being deported after thinking they were naturalized citizens for most of their life.

Having amassed bipartisan support, the Adoptive Citizenship Act passed the House of Representatives on February 4, 2022, as an amendment to America COMPETES Act. They are now working on getting the Act passed in the Senate without being altered because it would include adoptees most negatively impacted.

By Isabella Diez, Policy Intern