Partners for Our Children


Thousands of intercountry legally adopted children to U.S., now adults, are not U.S. citizens

According to Adoptees for Justice, more than 500,000 children have been legally adopted by American parents from abroad since 1948.  While they were legally adopted, several thousand children born prior to 1982 were never granted U.S. citizenship because their parents did not complete the required naturalization process or they did not enter the country on an orphan visa. 

Two proposed federal bills H.R. 2731 and S. 1554 would provide automatic citizenship to these adult adoptees. Neither bill has received a hearing.

Adoptees from South Korea are among those most impacted; the Korean Health Ministry reports that over 18,000 Korean adoptees were never granted U.S. citizenship. There are reported cases of adoptees from at least 27 other countries experiencing the same issues. 

These adult adoptees are now subject to deportation. Adoptees without citizenship can also face barriers voting, working, obtaining a driver’s license or health insurance, and applying for financial aid and school scholarships. 

Since 2000, legislators have proposed many bills to address this loophole. The Child Citizenship Act, which became law that year, did not provide citizenship for international adoptees who were over the age of 18. Since then, no legislation has passed that would provide retroactive citizenship for those adult adoptees born prior to 1982 whose parents did not complete their naturalization paperwork. 

Children who were adopted by parents who are United States citizens deserve the same rights of other U.S. citizens, including the right to vote, work, go to school, and live without fear of deportation or financial or health insurance restrictions/barriers. Correcting this unintended injustice is long overdue.

Read the full version of the bills: H.R. 2731 and S. 1554.