Joy’s Story, Texas

My Parents were both natural U.S. Citizens, my father served the U.S. Navy, my mother’s family were from Texas.

Even though I was legally adopted 50 years ago by US citizens, I still do not have citizenship. 

I discovered the failure when applying for a US Passport in my twenties. Immigration said they could prosecute and deport me. Unknowingly, many adoptees participate in civic activities like voting or jury duty. The US considers these deportable offenses.

It has taken twenty-five years to uncover the reasons behind my citizenship failure. It began when my parents divorced and forgot to naturalize me. In my teens, I entered the state foster care system who later allowed me to “age out” without citizenship. At eighteen, I was alone and homeless.  My parents, foster parents, government officials, and the adoption agency all knew I had not been naturalized.

Transracial Adoptees of my generation have endured many forms of discrimination. The US facilitated our legal adoptions,  we assimilate into American culture, learn American values but are denied our true identities. Our birth records are commonly fabricated during adoption. During childhood, many of us experienced difficulty registering in school and other common activities.  Adoptees are often denied access to employment, driver’s licenses, educational loans, and healthcare.  Older Adoptees are denied their Social Security benefits.

I have been denied American privileges my whole life. I was brought to the US at the onset of foreign adoption over 50 years ago and yet, Congress excluded me from the Automatic Adoptee Citizenship law in 2000.  The Child Citizenship Act left thousands of Adoptees unprotected without citizenship. Eighteen years have passed without remediation. We need Congress to do the right thing now. Adoptees were promised a better life as Americans, we were promised citizenship.