Many outside the adoptee community are surprised when they learn that this country can and will deport international adoptees. Yet, that is exactly what could happen — and has already been happening — for an untold number of adult adoptees.
The US government reports that there have been approximately 250,000 international adoptions recorded in the past 15 years, most adopted before the age of 2. For most of the late twentieth century, the vast majority of these infants were adopted from South Korea; this trend began after the Korean War left many children orphaned. Today, China has overtaken Korea as the most popular country within which prospective parents seek to adopt: nearly one-third of international adoptions involve children born in China. Thus, America’s international adoptees are predominantly Asian American, and the political issues faced by this community deserve our attention and our advocacy.
Most Americans — including many prospective adoptive parents — assume that international adoptees acquire automatic US citizenship with the completion of adoption paperwork. That is simply untrue. The citizenship of international adoptees is dependent upon whether or not their American citizen parents have separately sponsored their petition for US citizenship, even after adoptees have already begun life in America.