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Hirono, Collins, Smith, Bacon Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Close Loophole and Grant Citizenship to International Adoptees

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA) and Don Bacon (R-NE) led their colleagues in introducing the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2024, which would grant U.S. citizenship to international adoptees who were legally adopted in the U.S. as children but lack citizenship status due to a loophole in the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.


“For years, thousands of internationally-adopted children from American families across the country have had to live with uncertainty and fear without U.S. citizenship due to an oversight in the Child Citizenship Act,” said Senator Hirono. “The Adoptee Citizenship Act would provide a long overdue solution to fix this oversight by simply confirming the citizenship status of international adoptees who had already turned 18 when the Child Citizenship Act took effect. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to help ensure these adoptees are afforded the rights they deserve as U.S. citizens.”

Families who adopted children from abroad were previously required to go through a lengthy process to naturalize and gain U.S. citizenship for their adopted children. Sometimes, the necessary paperwork was not entirely completed, and significant numbers of adoptees grew up for years unaware that they were living in the U.S. as non-citizens. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA) eliminated the need for many adoptive families to apply to naturalize their newly adopted children. Unfortunately, the 2000 CCA law only applied to future adoptees and adoptees who were under the age of 18 on its effective date; it did not apply retroactively to those adoptees who faced the same dilemma but aged into adulthood before the CCA took effect.
For these international adoptees, the U.S. is the place they grew up and the place they call home. Yet, through no fault of their own, they never received their citizenship and are living in uncertainty about their future. Without citizenship, these international adoptees face many barriers, such as having trouble applying for a passport, license, or student financial aid. In some cases, they have been deported to the country in which they were born, where they may have never lived and have no known family or friends. The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2024 corrects this gap in the law by confirming international adoptees’ U.S. citizenship status, regardless of when they were adopted or their age. This important bill provides much needed certainty to adopted Americans who have had difficulties attending college, accessing banking services, and starting their careers simply because of paperwork and process oversights during their childhood.

In addition to Senators Hirono and Collins, the bill is cosponsored in the U.S. Senate by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Mike Braun (R-IN).

The Adoptee Citizenship Act is endorsed by Adoptee Rights Campaign, Adoptees for Justice, Alliance for Adoptee Citizenship, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Family Coalition for Adoptee Citizenship, Korean American Grassroots Conference, National Alliance for Adoptee Equality, Niskanen Center, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), National Council for Adoption, National Immigration Forum, Center for Adoption Policy, and National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC).

The full text of the bill is available here. A one-pager is available here.