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Immigration policy changes shake up international adoption

Many Americans have had wonderful experiences raising children they adopted from other countries. However, adoption is rarely a simple matter, and international adoption presents some unique challenges. When Americans adopt a child from a foreign country, the adoption process is generally controlled by the foreign country's laws. This can mean that unfamiliar legal roadblocks and new political pressures can sometimes present problems for adoptive parents in international adoption.

Now, political changes at home may present new challenges. President Trump's much-discussed crackdown on immigration could mean uncertainty for children born outside the United States who have been adopted by American families.

Prior to 2000, children adopted from outside the United States were considered immigrants and had to go through a naturalization process to become citizens. The Citizenship Act of 2000 changed all that. In theory, it grants automatic citizenship to every child who is adopted by Americans, effective upon completion of the adoption process in the child's home country.

However, there is a great deal of uncertainty about this automatic citizenship. According to news reports, many adoptive parents who are nervous about political changes have recently been frantically filing paperwork to make sure their adopted children are official citizens. Some immigration attorneys say it may be necessary for foreign-born adopted children to have a birth certificate, a Social Security card, a passport and a Certificate of Citizenship. However, any parent concerned about the matter should speak with attorneys who have experience in adoption law.

The legal issues can be complicated in both international adoption and domestic adoption. If you are seeking to adopt a child, it can be important to speak with attorneys with experience in family law and adoption.

Source: The Chronicle of Social Change, "Adoption Community Seeks Safeguards as New Immigration Policies Rolled Out," Kim Phagan-Hansel, March 13, 2017

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