The Immigration Policy And Its Effects On International Adoption

Those who were too old to be included in the CCA are at risk for deportation.

Maya Brown-Zimmerman February 23, 2017
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When the news about President Trump’s immigration policy broke a few weeks ago, one of my first thoughts was for adults who were adopted internationally and are not yet citizens.

I’ve written before about how those over 18 were not grandfathered-in under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. The CCA of 2000 allowed for automatic citizenship for children adopted from Hague approved countries. Those who were too old to be included in the law, which took effect in 2001, are at risk for deportation (in fact, some have already been deported). And to clarify, this was all prior to the immigration policy changes, which included a halting of visas and cancellation of green cards from certain countries (now overturned) and more leeway in how ICE can enforce immigration.

How are these changes affecting younger internationally adopted people?

First of all, if you adopted your child from a non-Hague approved country, you needed to fill out additional paperwork for them to become American citizens. If you have not done this for some reason, do it immediately. Regardless of who is in office, you don’t want to risk leaving your child in the limbo that so many adult adoptees are in right now.

I spoke with two adoptive families whose children are now US citizens. Both were lacking Certificates of Citizenship (COC). Apparently, the cost more than doubled for these documents in December. Both women give the following advice:

  • If you’ve not yet re-adopted your child, do this immediately.
  • Make sure your child has their COC. If they don’t, apply for one right away. It can take weeks or months to get this.
  • Get your children passports.
  • Update their social security cards with their new names.

It would also be a good idea to verify your child’s citizenship status. One mother learned that a computer error labeled her son as not being a citizen, and that he was not the only one affected by this issue, even though he’s been a citizen for a decade. You can check your child’s citizenship status by calling the Social Security Administration office.

Regardless of whether the president comes out with a new immigration policy to replace the old one or not, these are important things to do for your child. Potential changes in the policy do make this a more urgent list than it might be otherwise. So, don’t delay.

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Maya Brown-Zimmerman

Maya Brown-Zimmerman is a mother of three, both biologically and through adoption. She has been blogging since before it was cool, and is passionate about everything from open and ethical adoption to special needs advocacy and patient-physician communication. In her spare time (ha!) she's on the board of directors for a medical nonprofit and enjoys medical and crime dramas. You can read more from her on her blog, Musings of a Marfan Mom.


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