EACH - Equality for Adopted Children

Child Citizenship Act of 2000

Child Citizenship Act:

On February 27, 2001, more than 100,000 foreign-born adopted children across the nation were given the wonderful gift of American citizenship as a result of enactment of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA). This Act was introduced on August 4, 1999 by Senators Don Nickles and Mary Landrieu along with 23 other Senate colleagues. U.S Representatives Lamar Smith and William Delahunt led the effort to pass the bill in the House of Representatives. The CCA amended the Immigration and Nationality Act to confer United States citizenship automatically on certain foreign-born children adopted by citizens of the United States. The CCA passed the House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law on October 30, 2000 and went into effect on February 27, 2001.

Until this law was passed, the United States was one of the few developed nations in the world that did not confer automatic citizenship upon foreign adopted children of their citizens. After undergoing the emotional, bureaucratic and financial roller-coaster of international adoption, U.S. adoptive families faced a naturalization process which was costly, cumbersome and unnecessary. Some families failed to initiate or complete naturalization proceedings, leaving their adopted children subject to difficulties ranging from inconvenience to deportation.

The naturalization process, although simplified over the years, still involved much unnecessary paper work and unneeded expense. It simply did not make sense that children, legally adopted by U.S. citizens, did not automatically become United States citizens. Under adoption law, legally adopted children are considered the “natural issue” of the adoptive parents. Once legally adopted, these children are given the same rights, duties and responsibilities as natural born children. Therefore, they are entitled to the same rights as natural born children born abroad. Now foreign adopted children can claim American citizenship through their U.S. citizen parent just as if they were born to them.

In passing the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, Congress recognized and rectified an inequity in the U.S. foreign adoption process.

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