More U.S. non-citizen adoptees

Given the number of children immigrating to the U.S. to be adopted in the past twenty years, I think stories like these are going to be more common.

Stevens’ parents never went through the process to allow Stevens to become a U.S. citizen. The mistake her parents made by not applying for naturalization of their adopted children almost 50 years ago has sent Steven’s life reeling, leaving her uncertain of her identity and her future. Stevens has heard horror stories of adoptees returned to their birth country because they’d broken the law. She wonders if that applies to her because she voted in every election since she turned 18 and signed documents to get jobs and college aid stating she was an American citizen.

“It’s a scary feeling,” Stevens said in the kitchen of her Estero home. “Am I going to end up deported?”

It’s possible. Ask Beth Keathley.  A Chicago immigration judge ordered her deportation after she erroneously voted.

Background story on Keathley here.


6 thoughts on “More U.S. non-citizen adoptees

  1. What on earth is the point of issuing a birth certificate that states the person was born in a place he or she was NOT actually born in, if not to guarantee citizenship (à la jus soli)? Even if it worked (which obviously it didn’t), it doesn’t make any sense. If you were born in England, someone adopting you is not going to suddenly make you have been born in Texas. Way to make birth certificates not actually mean anything.

    Can you get a driver’s license or state ID without some proof of citizenship/residency? Or is there where the birth certificate made it not clear? I’m not a U.S. citizen, but I have always had to show my green card for everything, from getting a state ID to applying to school to getting a job. I’m really curious how this worked—did they have some kind of ID stating, incorrectly, that they were citizens? And since I’ve never voted in the U.S.: Do they really not check for citizenship?

  2. In the United States, a state-issued birth certificate is only proof of citizenship if it indicates the person was born in the U.S. There is a birth certificate equivalent called the certificate of foreign birth that most international adoptees obtain. It will show actual place of birth with the names of the adoptive parents as father and mother. The certificate of foreign birth is not proof of citizenship.

    In some states, if a child is born and adopted in the same state, the amended birth certificate will list the adoptive parents as parents. At their request, the place of birth may be changed to their home city. The original is sealed.

    Proof of citizenship is a fairly recent requirement for driver’s licenses. Not all states require proof of citizenship. Where I live, if you already have a driver’s license or state ID you can renew it without any additional documentation. So I would imagine people could be grandfathered in if they already had licenses, issued in the pre-citizenship-check days. (My father, for example, had no birth certificate. This was not a problem for him until he attempted to get a new passport.)

    Not all states require proof of legal residency for a driver’s license, although proof you live in the state is required.

    Not all states require proof of citizenship to vote. Strange, but true.

  3. Oh, I see. Thanks for the information.

    It seemed really weird, because the article referred to getting a “Texas birth certificate,” which I assumed would indicate the person was born in Texas.

    For states that do require proof of citizenship for voting, do they use passports and birth certificates?

  4. My sister was adopted through foster care in the state she was born in. Her legal birth certificate now says our mother gave birth to her in a hospital said mother has never been in. My mother finds this entirely strange. My sister was removed from her birth parents’ home before she started forming memories, but she was adopted long after she started school. I am under the impression that kids in foster care rarely are going to get adopted before they would realize they are being adopted, so what is the point?

  5. I’m not qualified to discuss birth certificate issues. But I tend to think they serve multiple functions that are in contradiction to each other. Are they a record of birth? Proof of parentage? Proof of identity or gender?

  6. In NY state, you can obtain an amended birth certificate, it shows the real place of birth, and it can be used since it has the NYS seal on it, but it does state clearly that it is not proof of citizenship. I got one, because it would be easy for my kids to obtain another one if lost, but they also have the certificate of citizenship and passports, I try to give them everything that they can get now in the hope that it will be easier for them in the future.

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