I was part of the “first wave” of biracial children adopted out of Korea after the Korean War. My brother and I were adopted in 1956 to parents in Texas when I was 2 years old. My parents told us they had gotten our citizenship when they had adopted us.

I endured emotional, physical, and sexual abuse during my childhood by my adoptive parents. I had to leave home at 15 years old and live on my own. I eventually found more stability in my life and have worked as an electrician at nuclear plants & military bases. I have lived my life as a proud U.S. citizen.

In 2014, I found out at age 60 that I did not have citizenship when I applied for survivorship benefits after my husband died. We had been married for 33 years. The Social Security office told me they could do nothing for my situation. I asked my Senator’s office to get involved when I was running out of money and afraid of losing my home. I was fortunate to finally get citizenship after being adopted over 60 years ago and one month before I would have been evicted.

I have spent so much time, emotional pain, and money trying to prove my citizenship. This is not right and should not happen to international adoptees. Thousands of adoptees who grew up in the U.S. and have spent almost their entire lives here believing they were citizens are now reaching their 50s and 60s and will discover for the first time they do not have citizenship when they apply for their social security benefits. Passing the Adoptee Citizenship Act can prevent this, and I will do anything I can to make sure this does not happen to any others.

Ella’s Story, from Texas to Nevada

Updated on 2017-08-11T22:06:11+00:00, by Yongho Kim.