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Adopted people and citizenship

I recently just found out that people adopted internationally loose citizinship in the country where they were born! 

Americans adopting internationally don’t seem to talk about the fact that the person they adopted has to loose citizenship in their home country to gain American citizenship.  Does anyone who adopted internationally feel bad about that?

And American Foster kids adopted into Canada and Europe are loosing their American citizenship just to get fed and taken care of too!  As American’s we should all be pretty peeled back about that.  After all I’m pretty sure that treason is the only other reason the government will take away someone’s citizenship.  The crime of having poor parents is so bad that the state can just ship children off to other countries to be cared for until they are 18 and take away their citizenship?  They become Canadians.  Not that there is anything wrong with Canada but they are not Canadian, they’re American and how is it fair to do that to citizens who are not old enough to speak up for their own rights?


Kids in foster care are not taken away due to poverty but rather because of abuse and/or neglect or abandonment.

Some countries allow dual citizenship and the child chooses at 18. I have no idea if the USA does. If they want their citizenship back as adults I guess they could move back to the USA and apply for citizenship.

I am sure if there were enough waiting families in the USA for the waiting children they wouldn’t be adopted internationally.

I guess all the kids from Ethiopia, Guatemala, Russia, China lost their citizenship also. Do you think it is better to grow up in an orphanage and retain citizenship? It is sad, another loss but I doubt anyone could get all these countries to change their laws to meet the needs of retaining citizenship while being adopted.

It would be nice if all children were born into homes who could meet their needs but that is not how it is.

Posted by Regina on May 06, 2019 at 1:50pm

You’re right that parents should only loose their children if they are tried and convicted of abuse yet that ideal is not always adhered to.  But even if our family courts do adhere to that ideal all of the time, childhood victims of abuse should not be stripped of their citizenship either.

Some countries allow dual citizenship and the US is one of them except, being born in Canada because your Mom’s water broke on a day trip to Vancouver is not the same as deliberately applying for and being granted citizenship in another country and then establishing extended residency in that other country. 

Regarding American citizens adopted out to Canada or the Netherlands (two super popular destinations), you said

    ‘if they want their citizenship back they could move to the U.S.A. and apply for citizenship.’

A person born on American soil has a 14th Amendment constitutional right to citizenship that can only be taken away from them by force for acts of treason and for the unfortunate condition of having parents and relatives who abused them or are too poor to take care of them. 

Are you really suggesting that adopted people should have some other set of rules for their citizenship than everyone else does?  They have not lost enough in being separated from their families, and being taken away from the culture of their home land, we should add to their loss by making them apply for citizenship with a birth certificate that says their parents are Canadian or Dutch?

You said if there were enough waiting families in the US they would not be adopted internationally. But outside foster care some parents who relinquish at birth choose foreigners to raise their children for them, and still, whether the custody is taken or relinquished, there is no reason to take citizenship away from a person because of the acts or decisions of their parents.  Being denied rights because of the acts or decisions of your parents is supposed to be expressly forbidden which is precisely why we should be upset that adopted people are treated this way here and abroad. 

You asked if I thought that it is better to retain citizenship but be raised in an orphanage.  I think being raised in an orphanage is not a happy situation but that in and of itself is not a violation of the person’s rights as a citizen of their country.  I think it’s absolutely possible to take a child abroad and take care of them for an extended period without stripping them of their citizenship.  This is done all the time with host families for students and for orphans.  I brought the subject up because we need to be thinking critically about the ethics of what we participate in especially when we are intending to act as a means of protecting them. 

And even if we are willing to take away foreign children’s rights, here at home as a matter of child welfare we need to be at least be aware of what our laws are doing and realize that the laws don’t serve any purpose and should be changed.  It’s just something I was not aware of before and when I found out I was shocked and thought other people, especially those concerned with adoption should have the information and hopefully push for changes with their legislators.
“Renounce or Lose Your U.S. Citizenship
Find out how to give up your American citizenship and the reasons why it might be taken away.”

“You will no longer be an American citizen if you voluntarily give up (renounce) your U.S. citizenship. You might lose your U.S. citizenship in specific cases, including if you:”....

“Intentionally acquire citizenship in a foreign country except if you acquire it through marriage to a foreign national; you may become a dual national instead.

Commit an act of treason against the United States.”

“Giving up your U.S. citizenship has consequences. You should never make this decision lightly, as it can only be undone under very limited circumstances. Renouncing your U.S. citizenship means that you:

Give up your rights and responsibilities as a U.S. citizen.
Must become a citizen of another nation, or risk becoming “stateless.”
May need a visa to visit the United States.”

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Posted by girlengineer on May 07, 2019 at 1:43am

Imagine a situation where someone was not alowed to vote or have a library card because their parent was incarcerated.  Imagine someone was not allowed to bear arms because their parent had murdered someone with a gun.  Imagine someone who was denied the right to free speech because their mother sold it out for a 20 rock of crack.  Imagine someone denied their right to financial support from their father because their mother told him it was OK and he did not have to support his offspring…she would not turn him in.  Imagine someone whose parents sold them into slavery.  We are supposed to be concerned with the greater good when we rescue vunerable children from marginal situations.  Receiving food, shelter, clothing and education in a safe environment while we are minors should not have to be a trade off for any of our inalieable rights.  I’m raising the issue to make people aware of an unethical practice that can and should be changed..  What I want to know is how people who are adopting internationally or who have adopted internationally feel about the issue.  Have you contemplated their loss of rights in their home country and does the issue of loss of citizenship resinate more with you know that you know its happening to Americans than it did in the flurry of rescuing a child from poverty internationally?  If you had to vote would it not be appropriate to give them a visa and then at 18 let them decide if they wanted to apply for citizenship in the country where they’ve been living?  Shouldn’t the matter of renouncing citizenship in thei countries of origin be up to them and nobody else?
All they need is someone to take care of them until they are 18 or until one of their relatives is able to care for them.  There is no reason to compromise their basic human rights.Let’s realy protect at risk children and never let there be an acceptable compromise to their personal freedom or rights.

Posted by girlengineer on May 07, 2019 at 4:05am

In the USA all of us (except Native Americans) somewhere in the past were immigrants. Someone in our family chose to come here, bring their children and chose whether the children would become American citizens,

People make choices for children because children are children.

Posted by Regina on May 07, 2019 at 12:26pm

When people immigrate from other countries with their children their children don’t automatically become citizens and neither do their children.  Not now and not back in the day.  They get visas and then can apply for citizenship as adults if they want to. 

People make choices for children within parameters outlined so as not to squash the rights of the person who is a citizen and a human, etc.  So you can’t make a decision for a child that would prevent him or her from being allowed to vote as an adult, or to have free speech as an adult or that would restrict their freedom as an adult.  Beyond that we can’t make decisions for children that would compromise their health safety welfare or education to minimum established standards.  And if you are harkening back to behaviors during periods of child labor and corporal punishment in schools - those times have long since passed.  Enlightened individuals concerned with equal rights would not want to compromise any of the essential rights of an individual in the process of caring for them while they are still under-age.

We need to resist drawing comparrisons to having to saw off a child’s leg to get him out from pinned under the car and off the rail road tracks to save him from being killed by an oncoming train.  Not that you drew that comparison, but the point is, telling someone they had to loose something to save their life is serious business and a lost leg is gone forever.  But loss of citizenship is a paperwork thing that could be reversed by a change in the law or could be prevented by either a change in the law or people not participating in behaviors that cost people their rights.  Children grow up to be adults.  The falsified birth certificates leave them in a position of looking like their parents are not Americans or leave them in a position of looking like their parents are not from the countries they were born in.  It’s not the truth and it messes their lives up and we should be thinking about how to stop international adopted people from having to pay for their food shelter and clothing with their personal rights.

Posted by girlengineer on May 08, 2019 at 12:51am

Adopted children adopted internationally often do become American citizens at adoption (depends on a few rules) Others are made citizens by their parents. They go to the ceremony, get a flag, don’t have to pass the test (many can’t talk because of their age.

when people immigrate with children they do not become automatic citizens but many immigrants become citizens and include young children

There was a famous case of an adoptee (I think from Brazil) whose parents waited. he was arrested at 18 for possession of marijuana and as a non citizen he was deported to a country where he didn’t speakt he language. He died (I believe murdered) so many adoptive parents are trying to keep their kids safe.

It is not perfect. Birth parents should have the resources and ability to raise their children. Sometimes they don’t so the child is adopted. Losing your citizenship is another loss but probably less of a one than losing birth family.

I wish there were easy answers. There are not

Posted by Regina on May 08, 2019 at 3:17am

Regina please cite the actual codes becausWhe I’m reading them and its not how it says it works.  I’m willing to learn.  When a woman from Canada or Mexico crosses the border into the U.S.  give birth her child becomes a citizen.  It does not work the same way in Canada or the Netherlands.  My point is that its wrong to make decisions that alter people’s citizenship and lets be clear the rules for adopted people simply are not the same as for everyone else.

Posted by girlengineer on May 08, 2019 at 1:46pm

That is true. Like the rule that a child becomes a citizen once they are adopted internationally as soon as they reach the USA (some countries) Other kids have to be made a citizen. No one believes the immigration/citizenship rules make any sense.

I have no idea what the actual codes are But parents are the ones, once they adopt, who make choices for children just like birth parents make choices. I think most parents see becoming a citizen of the country you will live in as a plus not a minus.

As an adult if someone wants to move and become a citizen of another country I guess they can following the rules of that country.

Posted by Regina on May 08, 2019 at 3:46pm

Well what would be fair is for the people who adopt to get the kid a visa and when the kid turns 18 they can apply for citizenship in the country where they’ve been living with a complete understanding of how that choice will effect citizenship in their country of birth.  That would be the fair and reasonable way for the law to handle citizenship for internationally adopted people.  They are not kids forever and decisions made on their behalf as children are never supposed to interfere with their essential constitutional rights.  People who adopt should be able to get behind a change in the law that would better protect the rights of the people they adopted. Thanks for talking - good to learn others view points.

Posted by girlengineer on May 09, 2019 at 4:11am

HI girlengineer,

As a parent of a child adopted internationally in her teens, I agree with you about the offensiveness of taking away things of importance from a child to adopt them…including but not limited to their birth name, their connection with friends from their country of birth, their birth certificate, their native language, religion, and customs, and/or their citizenship to their country of birth. (I have to note this abhorrent practice is not only used for immigrants, but was and still sometimes is used with Native Americans born and living in a tribe in the US as well.)

I’ve posted numerous times in discussions on this, and tried to avoid the practice whenever possible. Sometimes it is the child’s choice, and sometimes there are good reasons involving safety so I would never speak for anyone else. In my case I’ve given my teen the choice, as well as support and advocate for her rights.

But since your question is about immigration…I do find the immigration swearing in ceremony (required of older teens) is archaic in ways…requiring immigrants to renounce allegiance to foreign flags in a way that native born and younger children are never required to do. What family of Irish or English ancestry for example has to renounce any allegiance to the rulers or country of their ancestors?

I understand the rationale, of not wanting people who wish harm living among us with rights as citizens, but surly there is some better (and more effective) way of ensuring our safety that takes into account that people are often multiracial, and or multicultural in this day and age.No one is required to give up the allegiance to birth family when marrying, nor to the state of their birth when moving to a job elsewhere, either. Somehow it’s understood that an adult can hold both in high regard and make reasonable judgments that do not betray the US.

Quite often it is immigrants (who while loving and missing their home country,) may be most grateful for the freedoms, and privileges of life in the US even more so than those born here who take them for granted. We only have to look at our president to find someone born in the US, who appears to routinely place allegiance to other countries, over the US as long as it is of benefit to himself.

Also it is not true that children adopted internationally all lose citizenship in the countries where they were born.Sometimes the countries where children are born and adopted from will NOT see Citizenship in the US as eliminating their citizenship in their home country too. It varies from place to place.So I guess it’s necessary to research the countries involved to know what is true in any given case.

Finally, as Regina says, the depth of loss of losing birth parents or of having no parents is surely worse than that of losing citizenship.

Posted by Happy Camper on May 09, 2019 at 6:18pm

I do think English and Irish folks if they became citizens also had to renounce allegiance to foreign flags etc. I think it is part of the ceremony and has nothing to do with where you came from. I used to (they were stolen) have some citizenship papers of ancestors from Germany who were fleeing Bismark and they too swore allegiance to our country and renounce their old country.

I don’t think it has anything to do with adoption

Posted by Regina on May 09, 2019 at 6:25pm

Regina you are right that the allegiance applies to all immigrants, including but not limited to adoptees. But

I am talking about people who are citizens of the US by birth but have ancestors in other countries where their family was originally from.No one expects them to take an oath renouncing those ties.

Posted by Happy Camper on May 09, 2019 at 6:33pm

Regina and Happy Camper
I am really grateful that you are participating in this conversation.  I really just wanted to get everyone thinking about the things adopted people loose that don’t have to necessarily be lost as part of the process of being cared for by people who are not their relatives when they are minors.  When a child’s parents are truly abusive and no amount of money can make it safe for the child to be cared for at home and there are no relatives willing to step forward to raise them - that child has suffered a terrible blow.  If the only people willing to raise them happen to be in some other country I don’t think its necessarily a bad thing that the child travel with them to that country and grow up there in those people’s care but the rules of adoption seem to be that the child is assigned citizinship in that other country at the expense of citizenship in their own country. Some countries happy camper, your right, do allow for dual citizenship.  But not all do.  I guess I would like people to look at this not as an “oh well, that’s just the way it is, better to loose citizenship than to grow up in an orphanage” thing.  It’s like those questions kids ask one another would you rather have your leg bit off by a shark or would you rather be blind. If those were the only two options what would you choose?  But in the real world when the question is would you rather loose your name identity and citizenship or would you rather grow up in an orphanage in a third world country without running watter?  In the real world we should be asking why are those the only two options for these people whose only crime is having family that can’t take care of them?  Happy camper you’ve adopted internationally and it sounds like your mind is engaged and your empathy is tuned in; looking forward what can the people in the power position (those able to take care of the kids in the orphanage) do to change the archaic policies that cause those minors unnecessary loss.  I just hate to think there is an apathetic oh well attitude that as long as they are saved from a life of poverty its ok to trample on the few rights we all have as citizens of our respective countries.  It seems reasonable that they’d be issued visas and could apply for, and be automatically granted citizenship at 18 or any time they wish in their adult life if that is what they want to do once they understand the ramifications to their citizenship in their home countries.  I do think they deserve automatic citizenship but I think the relinquishing of citizenship in their own countries should be entirely up to them when they are adults.  This may seem innane and inconsequential when trying to get a starving child out of a wartorn country - but I think the law should be set up to make the process smooth and seemless - a detail nobody has to worry about because their rights are protected by the country they are going to be living in.  Remember there are American children being adopted to the Netherlands and Canada, primarily who are loosing American citizenship and as American’s we should think that is a pretty big deal.  Our parent’s actions or inactions are not supposed to cost us any of our constitutional rights.  Children of prisoners don’t loose their right to free speech or to vote, etc. Parents are not supposed to be able to waive their children’s rights to things like citizenship or equal protection.  I just think the issue goes beyond parents making decisions for children because they’re children.  We can’t choose to work them on our farms or in our factories instead of sending them to school.  There are certain rules parents have to follow and the same should apply to adoptive parents.  The problem comes into play when they mess with the birth certificate so then it looks like their parents are Americans rather than citizens in the countries where they were born.  We need to set it up where they can keep their birth certificates (I know some countries suck and won’t let them) but America needs to set it up so that people who adopt don’t have to be on the birth certificate to pass citizenship to a foreign born adopted person but that the option to become a citizen is a decision made by the adopted person as an adult if it’s going to cost them citizenship at home where they are from.  That’s all I just don’t want there to be any Oh Well losses for adopted people when in truth its just a paperwork thing and it is something that can be mitigated for them.  Happy camper the kids you adopted and Regina if you adopted they are lucky to be raised by individuals who don’t have blinders on .

Posted by girlengineer on May 17, 2019 at 2:40am

Thanks. I appreciate that.

I feel that kids adopted should be encouraged to keep up language, and ties to their birth family/friends/and country, (unless dangerous/unhealthy to do so), have citizenship in both their birth and adoptive countries unless they decide differently eventually, birth certificates should just be truthful with a special additional family certificate when adopted. I know it’s what I’d want if it were me. It only makes one stronger, more tolerant and wiser, to have a rich and diverse background and to have that respected and honored.

Posted by Happy Camper on May 17, 2019 at 2:59pm

What a lovely sentiment Happy camper!  When you say
“additional family certificate” when they are adopted, you just mean the adoption decree or adoption order that says the names of people adopting and the name of the person adopted, correct?  You get that already right?  So the birth certificate proves who they are then the adoption order proves you adopted them - pretty clean and simple.

Revising the birth certificate just messes everything up for the rest of the adopted person’s life.  The birth certificate and additional adopted family certificate is all that is needed i wish everyone thought so crystal clearly.

Posted by girlengineer on Jun 09, 2019 at 7:33pm

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