Explore Sara’s life as an adoptee finding out she is without citizenship after having been raised in the Western part of the United States as part of a military family.
Hunger and the fear of biting rats was constant in my orphanage in Iran. As were the days and nights of relentless rocking because there was very little human contact.
This behavior continued when I went home with my adoptive parents. As was the habit of hiding scraps of food in the waistband of my diaper because I was always hungry in the orphanage.
I don’t carry any emotional scars but the scars on my body are a testimonial of the time spent there. These scars are a daily reminder of how differently my life could have turned out. In all probability, I could have become a child bride, been a victim of trafficking or been homeless once I became too old for the orphanage. Instead I was adopted at the age of 2 and raised in a loving home.
My first childhood memory was my flight to the United States at 3 years old to begin my new life with my adoptive family. In 1974, my adoption was finalized in the courts and my father’s attorney assured him that all the necessary forms, calls to immigration and social security were complete. This concluded the adoption process and established my identity as an American; a full citizen of the United States of America.
My father who passed away in 2001, was a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force as well as a Prisoner of War in WWII. He survived two years in captivity in Germany and a death march to freedom. He instilled pride and taught me what it was to be an American. If he were alive today, I know he would be saddened by the turn of events regarding my lack of citizenship and that my personal freedom and rights as an American were so easily stripped away from me.
In 2008, I applied for a passport and it was the first time that I was told that I wasn’t a citizen in the only country that I have known. I heard the strong and hurtful words from an attorney, “ you are deportable to Iran.” I remember being astounded as the tears flooded my face and mumbling “I am an American, my life is here.” I left her office and returned to my life with this horrible dark secret.
Adoptees spend their entire life gazing at the reflection in the mirror and having a loss of identity. This is even more so when you don’t resemble anyone in your family or the community you were raised in. My identity had always been firmly rooted in the fact that I identified as an American. It is all I know.
I’m Iranian by birth but I don’t have the culture, religion, family history or the language. I want to return to my life as I once experienced it…. free of fear and hopelessness and living like a fugitive in my own country.
Sara is being denied citizenship: The United States is now enforcing a travel ban for Iran. Despite being legally adopted in the courts with U.S. citizen parents she is being treated as a terrorist threat. Sara is required to wait for a visa from Iran since she doesn’t have citizenship. USCIS isn’t acknowledging her adoption and is requiring her to immigrate to the United States. Her father served in the U.S. Air Force and she being denied all the rights he fought for and she could be deported at any time to Iran if USCIS makes that decision.
I implore everyone to give all impacted adoptees their voice and rightful place in this country by supporting and passing the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018.
Are you or your family members veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, and appalled for Sara? Send legislators a personal message on our petition today!
*Name changed to protect privacy.
Sara’s Story, California
Updated on 2018-04-18T03:25:37+00:00, by .