The Adoptee Citizenship Act


Overview: The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2021 has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 1593) and Senate (S. 967). It has 43 cosponsors (supporters) in the House and 7 cosponsors in the Senate

We are currently working with members of Congress to pass this legislation. Our focus is on helping to educate about this issue and build legislative support to ensure the bill remains inclusive. We are also working on growing constituent and organizational support for this legislation. 

Passing legislation is a long process and many adoptees remain at risk of losing access to critical services and rights. We strive to support adoptees without citizenship in their individual situations and continue to fight for justice.

Why we must pass an inclusive Adoptee Citizenship Act.

View over 170 organizations who support a clean, inclusive Adoptee Citizenship Act

On Monday, November 16, Adoptees for Justice sent a letter co-signed by over 180 organizations across the United States to House leadership. The letter urged House leadership to bring a clean and inclusive Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019 (H.R. 2731) to a vote on the House floor before the end of the 116th Congress on December 10, 2020. View and download the letter here.

  1. 18 Million Rising
  2. AAJIL (Asian American Innovation + Justice Lab)
  3. Action Fund
  4. Adoptee Rights Campaign (ARC)
  5. Adoptees Connect, Inc
  6. Adoptees United Inc
  7. Adoption Search Resource Connection
  8. African Communities Together (ACT)
  9. Alianza Americas
  10. Alianza Nacional de Campesinas
  11. Amazin LeThi Foundation
  12. American Friends Service Committee
  13. Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC
  14. Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)
  15. Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
  16. Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence
  17. Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization
  18. Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
  19. Beteseb Felega - Ethiopian Adoption Connection
  20. Black Alliance for Just Immigration
  21. CASA
  22. Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and
  23. CASA in Action (Pennsylvania, Maryland, & Virginia)
  24. Center for Popular Democracy
  25. CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
  26. Child Welfare League of America
  27. Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice
  28. Church World Service
  29. Coalition on Human Needs
  30. Communities
  31. Community Change Action
  32. Creating a Family, the national adoption and foster care education and
  33. Detention Watch Network
  34. Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel
  35. Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries
  36. East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU)
  37. Education for Social Justice Foundation
  38. Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC)
  39. Faith and Community Empowerment
  40. Families with Children from China New England (FCCNE)
  41. Family Coalition for Adoptee Citizenship
  42. FIRM Action
  43. First Focus on Children
  44. Food Empowerment Project
  45. FORGE, Inc
  46. Hispanic Federation
  47. International Child Search Alliance
  48. International Korean Adoptee Associations
  49. Japanese American Citizens League
  50. Korean American Coalition
  51. Korean-American Women’s Association of the USA, Inc
  52. Lights for Liberty
  53. MAASU (Midwest Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Students Union)
  54. MidWest Mixed
  55. Musings of the Lame
  56. NALEO Educational Fund
  57. Nanchang Project
  58. NAPABA
  59. National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
  60. National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF)
  61. National Coalition of Adoptee Equality
  62. National Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)
  63. National Immigrant Justice Center
  64. National Immigration Forum
  65. National Immigration Law Center
  66. National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG)
  67. National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
  68. National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights
  69. National Partnership for New Americans
  70. NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
  71. North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC)
  72. NQAPIA
  73. OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates
  74. South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
  75. Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
  76. The Rhizome Center for Migrants
  77. T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
  78. UndocuBlack Network
  79. United We Dream
  80. US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
  81. Visual Communications Media
  82. Woodhull Freedom Foundation

  1. ACLU Alabama
  2. ACLU of Florida
  3. Adoptee Hub
  4. Adoptees Connect - Philadelphia
  5. Adoptees Connect - Providence
  6. Adoptees Connect, Buffalo
  7. Adoption Network Cleveland
  8. Adoption Perspectives, LLC
  9. Adoption Rhode Island
  10. Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York
  11. AKAP: Adult Korean Adoptees of Portland
  12. AKAP Adult Korean Adoptees of Portland
  13. Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education
  14. Also-Known-As
  15. Ann Kim Md Pc
  16. APIENC (API Equality - Northern California)
  17. Asian Adult Adoptees of Washington
  18. Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles
  19. Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago
  20. Asian Americans Advancing Justice- Atlanta
  21. Asian Counseling and Referral Service
  22. Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO)
  23. Asian Pacific Islander Coalition
  24. Asian Services In Action (ASIA)
  25. Boston Korean Adoptees
  26. Brown Asian Sisters Empowered (BASE)
  27. CCJC
  28. Chicago Jesus-Love Korean UMC
  29. Chicago Joyful Community Church
  30. Chicago Sanctuary Church Network
  31. Chinese Children Adoption International
  32. Coalición de Derechos Humanos
  33. Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community
  34. Coalition of Adoptive Families COFAF
  35. Coalition of Asian American Leaders (CAAL)
  36. Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition
  37. Colorado People's Alliance
  38. Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S.
  39. Provinces
  40. Cross Cultural Adoptee Mentorship Program (C-CAMP)
  41. Dreamers Community Church
  42. Enlace Chicago
  43. Equality California
  44. Equality North Carolina
  45. Equity in Education Coalition
  46. Faith Communities Organizing for Sanctuary
  47. Families with Children from China of Greater New York
  48. Families with Children from China Southern California
  49. Farmworker Association of Florida
  50. Florida Immigrant Coalition
  51. H-CAN (Havertown-Area Community Action Network) Immigration and
  52. Refugee Action Group
  53. HANA Center
  54. Hanul Family Alliance
  55. Heavenswill church
  56. Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
  57. Japanese American Service Committee
  58. KAN-WIN
  59. Korean American Coalition of Chicago
  60. Make the Road New York
  61. Make the Road Pennsylvania
  62. Mayor's Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (Philadelphia)
  63. Michigan Open Access
  64. MinKwon Center for Community Action
  65. MIRA Coalition
  66. NAKASEC Virginia
  68. New York Adoptee Rights Coalition (NYARC)
  69. New York Immigration Coalition
  70. North Carolina Asian Americans Together
  71. NOVA Friends of Refugees
  72. Ohio Asian American Health Coalition
  73. Ohio Birthparents Group
  74. Ohio Immigrant Alliance
  75. One In Christ Episcopal Church
  76. OneAmerica
  77. OPAWL
  78. Organized Communities Against Deportations OCAD
  79. Pact, An Adoption Alliance
  80. Paz Promise Arizona
  81. Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific
  82. American Affairs
  83. Pennsylvania Immigration & Citizenship Coalition
  84. Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste
  85. Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada
  86. Public Advocacy for Kids (PAK)
  87. Rhode Island First Korean Church
  88. Schaumburg Alliance Church
  89. Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN)
  90. Silver State Equality-Nevada
  91. Somos Un Pueblo Unido
  92. Sunflower Community Action
  93. SURJ Marin - Showing Up for Racial Justice
  94. Taste of Korea Chicago Festival
  95. Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition
  96. The Park Adoption Community Center
  97. The Second Presbyterian Church, New York City
  98. Transracial Adoptees at Ohio State
  99. Truth in Immigration Project
  100. Vietnamese Association of Illinois
  101. Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights
  102. Voces de la Frontera
  103. Woori Center
  104. Yeondae

Review the infographic below to understand the bill’s current status and the next steps in the legislative process.


Since 1948, over 500,000 children have been adopted from abroad by U.S. citizen parents with the promise of a better life (Boone, 2019). They were to be adopted into a new family and receive citizenship. However, some of these adoptees’ parents did not complete the necessary processes to provide their adopted children with citizenship or, in many cases, even a green card. The adoptive systems failed to protect the very children they intended to protect.

As a result, an estimated thousands of legally adopted individuals who were born before February 27, 1982 and raised in the United States and/or did not enter the country on an “orphan visa” do not have U.S. citizenship and are therefore potentially subject to deportation. There are 18,603 Korean American adoptees alone who do not have American citizenship according to the Korean Health Ministry. A number of deportations of individuals who were legally adopted from foreign countries have already taken place, breaking up families and returning the deported individuals to places where they do not know the language, culture or have any known family members.

There are cases of individuals without citizenship who were adopted from 28 countries including Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Ireland, Iran, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Spain, South Korea, St. Kitts, Taiwan, Ukraine, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Citizenship is a civil right of all children adopted by a U.S. citizen parent. Children adopted by U.S. citizen parents should have the same rights as children of U.S. citizens. This civil right should be protected by legislation that provides automatic citizenship for all adult adoptees whose adoptive parents did not complete the naturalization process while they were children.

Adoptee Citizenship Legislative History

ACA OF 2018

The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018 was introduced with bipartisan support in the House (H.R.5233) and Senate (S.2522) on March 8, 2018. However, this bill was not as an inclusive bill as the previous versions and did not cover some of the most impacted adoptees without citizenship. The ACA of 2018 was not referred out of committee before the end of the session.

ACA OF 2015-16

Two bills which would have granted citizenship to all adult adoptees were introduced with bipartisan support in the 114th Congress: the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2015 (S.2275) and the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2016 (H.R.5454). Neither bill was referred out of committee for a Congressional vote.

Both bills sought to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to grant automatic citizenship to all qualifying children adopted by a U.S. citizen parent, regardless of the date on which the adoption was finalized or of the entrance visa. Citizenship would be granted to any individual who was adopted by a U.S. citizen before age 18, was physically present in the United States in the citizen parent’s legal custody pursuant to a lawful admission before the individual reached age 18, never previously acquired U.S. citizenship, and was lawfully residing in the United States. The bills would have also given adult adoptees who had already been deported the opportunity to return to the United States.

CLAA OF 2013

The Citizenship for Lawful Adoptees Amendment (S.Amdt.1222 to S.744) was sponsored by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La), an adoptive parent. The bill passed the Senate on June 27, 2013 but ultimately failed to pass the House.

The Citizenship for Lawful Adoptees Amendment to the new immigration bill would extend citizenship to adoptees who are not covered by the Child Citizenship Act.  This includes adoptees who do not meet the age ceiling of the CCA. According to Senate records, this was also intended to cover deported adoptees, adoptees with families living abroad, and adoptees in which only one parent visited the sending country during the adoption process.

CCA OF 2000

This bill was originally named the Adopted Orphans Act in both the House and Senate. It aimed to provide equal treatment under United States law for adopted and biological children by granting citizenship to internationally-born adoptees. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 was passed in the House (H.R. 2883) and Adopted Orphans Act passed in the Senate (S.1485) of that year. However, when the act became law, it did not apply to internationally-born adoptees who were already over the age of 18. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 is known as Public Law 106-395, and is codified at 8 U.S.C. §§ 1431-33.

Watch our Adoptee Citizenship Panel + Q & A