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John and Rebecca Trimble. Ash Adams / The New York Times

In Solidarity with Rebecca Trimble

The recent New York Times article about Rebecca Trimble, a transnational adoptee without citizenship, has been garnering much attention, as it should. However, we want to clarify some important aspects about her case as it relates to the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019, as well as the immigration and adoption system in general. 

While Ms. Trimble’s case is another example of how both immigration and adoption systems are in need of reform, she would not gain citizenship under the Adoptee Citizenship Act due to her not having been issued a visa to enter. Her adoptive parents were waved through at the Mexican border, a practice that was common at the time but has since stopped. We want to make this distinction clear in order to ensure accurate information is being shared about the Adoptee Citizenship Act. 

But even though the Adoptee Citizenship Act would not help Ms. Trimble, her case is one that illuminates the many flaws within both the immigration and adoption systems. 

On the immigration side, Ms. Trimble has repeatedly tried to apply for a visa through USCIS, and in March of this year, she also filed a motion to reopen her case with them. She has been denied every time, and the pathways for her to gain a green card, visa, or citizenship are challenging due to the uniqueness of her situation. Nevertheless, transnational adoptees brought here as children by U.S. citizens should not be punished for the failure of our immigration system, and Ms. Trimble’s story exemplifies yet another case of someone who is being unjustly put at risk of deportation. Her case cannot be ignored and underscores the importance of bringing attention to stories that illustrate why the U.S. government must ensure that all transnational adoptees be guaranteed citizenship to this country they call home. 

On the adoption side, Ms. Trimble’s adoption was private and did not go through an agency. While these adoptions may not be considered legitimate by some, they do occur and lead to incidents like these where unsuspecting adoptive parents do not complete all of the necessary steps. Not only is the unregulated nature of private adoptions a concern that needs to be addressed, but also it is important for prospective adoptive parents to be aware of this when going through the adoption process. Private adoptions like these are inherently risky for both adoptee and adoptive parents, and that risk can persist well past an adoptee’s childhood. 

In the end, there are many flaws throughout both adoption and immigration systems which require urgent attention, particularly where they intersect as in this case and with the Adoptee Citizenship Act. While our priority is currently focused on passing this legislation, the need for reform does not stop there. Adoptees For Justice remains committed to fighting for a world in which every person thrives in a safe and supportive environment in which communities of color, immigrants, and adoptees are liberated from all forces of injustice, with full citizenship for all. 

In Solidarity, 

Adoptees for Justice


To Support Rebecca: 

  • Call your Senator and demand they support, S. 3940, Senator Murkowski’s private bill to support Rebecca’s case 

For more information/and or to support the Adoptee Citizenship Act please visit 

If you are an adoptee without citizenship who needs help or resources, please click here

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