Thursday, July 9, 2009

More on the FACE Act

The following excerpt is from Project Hopeful.

Exciting things are happening! Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to promote equal rights for adopted children.
The Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act (FACE Act) has been introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives. The FACE Act will allow American families to bring their internationally adopted children home as American citizens instead of as immigrants.
What you can do:

Sign the petition. This petition will be delivered to the U.S. Congress and Senate.
On July 7th, 8th, and 9th, call your three Members of Congress (two in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives). You can find your representative at www.house.gov. You can find your Senators’ phone numbers at www.senate.gov. Ask to speak with the Legislative Director or Chief of Staff. For maximum effect, we are asking you to make these calls within this 72-hour window!

What should you say to your Members of Congress?
This is an issue that is critical to children in need, so speak from your heart. Tell them why ensuring that internationally adopted children have citizenship rights is so important to you! Ask your Senators and Representatives to become Co-Sponsors of the Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act. Please feel free to use the following text as a guideline when speaking with your Member of Congress.

“We are requesting that you support the Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act by becoming a Co-Sponsor of the legislation. For information on becoming a Co-Sponsor, please contact Senator Mary Landrieu, Senator James Inhofe, Representative Diane Watson or Representative John Boozman. Thank you for representing your constituents by becoming a Co-Sponsor of the Foreign Adopted Children Equality Act.” More about the FACE Act:
Spearheaded by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and James Inhofe (R-OK) and Representatives Diane Watson (D-CA) and John Boozman (R-AR), the FACE Act simplifies the acquisition of citizenship for internationally adopted children and removes these children of American citizens from the immigration process. As it stands now, the internationally adopted child of a U.S. citizen receives U.S. citizenship once the child enters the U.S. to reside permanently. If enacted, the FACE Act would allow such children to acquire U.S. citizenship at the time their adoptions are finalized in the country of the child’s birth. The child would then enter the U.S. as a U.S. citizen with citizenship documentation in hand.

“Passage of the FACE Act will eliminate the need for an immigration visa for internationally adopted children and instead will treat these children as children of American citizens, not immigrants subject to immigration regulations,” said McLane Layton, President of Equality for Adopted Children (EACH) and a member of the Families for Orphans Coalition. “Additionally, the FACE Act classifies internationally adopted children as “citizens from birth” just like children born of Americans overseas, thus providing them with equal rights of citizenship, including the right to run for President of the United States.” “Under current law, the type of immigration visa an adopted child is given to enter the United States determines whether the child receives U.S. citizenship upon entry. Those children who do not receive U.S. citizenship upon entry and whose parents overlook the bureaucratic steps necessary to secure citizenship for their children are often later denied scholarships, passports, and the right to serve in the U.S. military. Most tragically, some young adults who have lived in the United States with loving, American families their entire lives have been deported to their birth countries..."

Please consider signing this petition and advocating for this act. At a time when it is becoming almost impossible to complete an international adoption - please do something to help kids make it home to families. The bureaucratic machine in most places couldn't care less if a child lives or dies...much less if they have the opportunity to grow up in a family.

This act makes sense...if Benjamin would have been born in Ghana or wherever to me...he would have been a US citizen. If I adopt a child from Ghana I have to wait an extra 3-5 months to get a Ghanaian passport for them after the courts have issued the adoption decree. Not to mention the whole visa medical rigamorole - which is getting to be a longer ordeal....particularly for children with HIV.

Thank you.

2 comments:

rachel said...

I meant to comment earlier and I completely failed to, and I'm sorry.

There are many reasons why this act is actually very harmful to adoptees and their families. They are mostly explained here:
http://www.ethicanet.org/international-adoption-ethica%e2%80%99s-positions-on-pending-legislation

But I will summarize, too.

The legislation eliminates the visa process, which essentially eliminates the mechanism by which we ensure that children being adopted are legitimately in need of families. There are many, many instances of corruption in which the children been placed for adoption were not legally relinquished or intended for adoption, and with the visa process gone, the ability for the USG to investigate these cases is diminished.

By saying that a child is technically born to his/her American parents - that is what a "Consular Certificate of Birth" is - we are diminishing the birth history of adoptees. That birth history is sometimes the only thing that adoptees have, and we are pretending that it doesn't exist.

And, finally, by saying that these children are American citizens from BIRTH, we are actually potentially denying them the right to obtain dual citizenship when they are older, and in some instances this will make the adoption process harder (as in Russia).

It makes a lot more sense to streamline the citizenship process from the point at which an adoptee arrives on U.S. soil. If the goal is the presidency, it makes a lot more sense to amend the constitution to allow naturalized citizens to hold office (my brother is an American citizen born overseas, and even he is not guaranteed the ability to hold executive office - it remains to be seen, when it is challenged at some point in the future. John McCain was born on U.S. soil in Panama, so that court challenge was not applicable).

I absolutely support streamlining the process by which adoptees gain citizenship, but only if it does not diminish birth history, identity, reduce their opportunities in their birth country as adults, and continues to ensure that the children placed for adoption are truly meant to be adopted. And if the point is to reduce costs, I am all about reducing agency fees - visa fees are almost nothing compared to agency fees!

This bill really has the potential to hurt more than it helps. I know this is a really long comment, but I thought I'd just explain the other side of the argument. There are painfully few adoptee voices in support of this bill, and I think it is important to take those voices into account here.

Best wishes - Rachel

Anonymous said...

I signed it. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. :)

Karyn Purvis Insights and Gifts - sharing power