When I am the Despotic Ruler of the Universe, I will punitively enforce draconian regulations against privileged persons whining about things that “cost too much money.”

And adoptive parents of kids from other countries will be required to acquire their children’s certificates of citizenship and valid passports.

Yeah, I know, the certificate of citizenship costs a lot of money.  And it isn’t fair that adopted kids should have to pay for it.  They should get it for free, unlike those other immigrants.  And yeah, you don’t have the money right now.

This despite the fact that you probably spent in excess of $20,000 for an international adoption.  And how much did you spend on souvenirs?  What did your iPad cost?  How about your videocamera?

So go ahead and punish the government by refusing to fork over your $600 $550.  Despite the fact that if you had done it when I told you the first time, you wouldn’t have spent so much.   But the only person who will really suffer from this is your kid. 

And you’re going to get old and die someday.   Maybe even tomorrow.  All your papers in a mess.  (Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from frantic adoptive parents who have lost all their adoption paperwork.)  And your kid is detained.  USCIS records indicate that he is a resident alien.  And even if you dig up the adoption papers, the passport with the immigration stamp in it, somebody still has to make that determination.

Maybe your kid isn’t going to get in any kind of trouble.  Although the trouble can be what most people think of as relatively minor.  But maybe your kid will be like the citizens who were erroneously detained in an immigration sweep.  Held only for twelve hours if you’re lucky, for months if you’re not.

Current longest wrongful deportation of a U.S. citizen:  Ten years.

12 thoughts on “Priorities

  1. I am so with you on this and guilty of this, though not with COC type stuff.
    I drool over the iPad. But we just can’t have them. We are lucky to have computers.
    But, yea, I know what you mean. I am with you there.

    Not that you care about my personal struggle, but I (white adoptive parent of asian child) and sad because I feel like some of her special needs TRUMP us trying to do cultural stuff. I mean we do cultural stuff, but I guess as a mom, you always want your child to have everything (and of course no extra challenges)

  2. Thank you. I linked from both my Facebook accounts.

    And here’s my two cents: If your adoptive father accidentally throws your CoC in the trash, he should pony up and pay for the replacement copy.

    I never comment but I follow and love your website. Thanks for being here.

  3. As an immigrant myself (and my husband too) I clearly know how important it is to have your citizenship papers, so that’s one of first things, together with the American passports, that I made sure my two adopted Ethiopian children had. I always get into arguments with other adoptive white American parents who don’t understand how critical these papers are that still aren’t aware that they now have immigrant children of color.

  4. Mer
    Unless she is the type of child who will not be able to function in society at all due to her special needs, then she needs to be around other Asians and people of color. Regardless of special needs- she is still a person of color with special needs and not a white person with special needs. It is more than culture, it is also race. And regardless of whether you see her as non white- everyone else will.

  5. Yeah. I’ve heard of APs trying to stick it to the government by not getting their child’s CoC. What an act of defiance! Making a kid you supposedly love pay for your pride.

  6. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 changed this quite a bit – there is no $600 or application required now. Under the Child Citizenship Act, children adopted abroad automatically acquire U.S. citizenship when they enter the country. It is bullshit that older children are dealing with this, but fortunately we won’t have to wait until you are Despotic Ruler of the Universe to dictate that adoptive parents get things in order. The government is on it – for once.

  7. Yes Christen, but only for children who are adopted by both parents who travel. If only one parent travels, they have to be readopted in the U.S. In addition, even if your child is a citizen, and you have no certificate and your passport is expired, how will you prove it. In some states, they have to have the certificate of citizenship in order to get a drivers license. At least that is what I read online in a local newspaper article. Better safe than sorry.

  8. The Child Citizenship Act did confer citizenship upon a certain class of adoptees. However, it did not cover adopted persons who were 18 or older as of the effective date.

    Many kids arrive in the U.S. as non-citizens and are not “automatic” citizens under the CCA. In 2009 (the latest year for which figures are available) 4,761* kids immigrated to the U.S. for the purpose of adoption but are not citizens until additional requirements are met. Plus there are kids who arrive under statuses like “humanitarian parole” (think of the 1,000+ kids from Haiti).

    The reality is that if you don’t have a certificate and want to make sure your kid meets the requirements for citizenship as determined by the USCIS, you need to apply for the certificate.

    As MA points out, having citizenship is not the same as being able to prove citizenship. Witness the number of citizen deportations.

    Edited to add: *That’s about 37 percent of the total, which is up from 2007, which I think was around 29 percent. I attribute this to change in sending countries.

  9. Negligence–any AP that has for whatever excuse or reason or rationalization failed to ensure their adopted children have obtained & have proof of citizenship–pure negligence. Why in the world would you claim to adopt children into your family as “your very own”, uproot & transplant them from their origins into a foreign country & culture & yet fail to obtain their citizenship? Gack.

  10. Kristen – your’s is a common misconception that I’ve heard. I would argue that the government has made this even more confusing for people because some many believe as you do, and I’ve even heard the false rumor that the legislation is essentially retroactive and automatically provides CoC for previous adoptees. Obviously, that’s not the case. I fear even more adoptees will be left without CoC eventually.

    I’m ashamed of adoption agencies for mis-informing adoptive parents about this fact. I’ve always given mine credit for making this very clear to their clients.

  11. “As MA points out, having citizenship is not the same as being able to prove citizenship.”

    That’s right. I think that that citizenship act DOES confer citizenship on most foreign-born adoptees, but you STILL have to apply for the N-600 and pay $550 to get that certificate as PROOF of citizenship.

    Passports are cheaper, but they expire, and I have heard that even though you can get a passport that states that the child is a US citizen, because it is issued by the state dept and not USCIS, USCIS records may still show your child is a permanent resident.

    Of course, all this doubt and confusion only serves to reinforce the extreme importance of getting the certificate!! In my opinion it should be done as part of the adoption process.

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