September Prayer Partner: Praying for Adoptees without Citizenship
September 13, 2021
As the news continues to follow developments in Afghanistan and as our communities come together to welcome Afghan refugees, I urge you to persist in prayer for these vulnerable people. In addition to our prayers for Afghans, I also want to bring attention to another group of immigrants in need of our prayers.
Adoption is a central theological theme throughout Scripture. God has adopted us and welcomed us into the family of God (Gal. 4:4-6). As Paul wrote, those “led by the Spirit are the children of God” (Rom. 8:14). All children of God receive the spirit of adoption. This theological theme carries practical application for our families and communities. As followers of Christ, we are called to care for the vulnerable and oppressed, including orphans (James 1:27, Isaiah 1:17).
While the United States has a strong tradition of international adoption that has improved the lives of thousands of adoptees, there is currently a group of adoptees who haven’t been able to access U.S. citizenship.
Prior to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, the administrative steps for an adoptive family were unnecessarily burdensome. In addition to the lengthy adoption process, families had to engage in a lengthy naturalization process for their children. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 streamlined the process, and granted automatic citizenship to all foreign-born children brought to the United States, who had at least one parent who was a U.S. Citizen.
Unfortunately, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 did not include adoptees who were 18 and older when the law took effect. This loophole left people legally adopted as children and raised in the United States without citizenship. The exclusion resulted in numerous difficulties for impacted adoptees. Because of a lack of citizenship, everyday activities for these individuals like obtaining a driver’s license, receiving financial aid at college, applying for jobs, working for the government, or traveling abroad are restricted.
Thankfully there is a bill introduced in Congress to fix this issue called the “Adoptee Citizenship Act.” The legislation closes the loophole to provide immediate citizenship to these individuals already adopted by U.S. citizens, yet left out of the previous bill. This bill solves the innumerable problems these adopted Americans have had to endure because of their lack of legal immigration status.
Adopting from other countries is a privilege. Not every nation chooses to participate in intercountry adoption, and the United States should respect the countries that choose to participate by quickly securing permanent citizenship for the thousands of adoptees who are currently without.
Rather than make the adoption process more difficult, our government should make it easier to adopt these children in need of a family. Christians should seek to promote the welfare of vulnerable children, both domestic and abroad.
Pray for impacted adoptees, that they would be able to swiftly receive their U.S. citizenship, and wouldn’t have to live in the gap of uncertainty. Pray for the members of Congress and their staff who are diligently working on behalf of impacted adoptees. Pray that more members of Congress would see the importance of this issue and offer their support.
Consider reaching out to your Member of Congress and asking them to cosponsor this important piece of legislation.
I’d also invite you to gather virtually with others to participate in a time of prayer for impacted adoptees, Afghan refugees and other vulnerable immigrants on September 20 at 4pm ET. If you’d like the link to join us, please email email@example.com.
Chelsea Patterson Sobolik
Acting Director of Public Policy
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
P.S. If you are looking for some additional resources on what is happening in Afghanistan, ways to pray and how to help, I encourage you to check out this ERLC podcast where Matthew Soerens and I discuss many of these questions. Our EIT partners and friends at World Relief and the National Association of Evangelicals have also hosted some really powerful virtual events on this topic.