Erasing Adoptees’ Identities: The Foreign Adopted Children’s Act

As reported by Ethica, there is a new bill pending that would, in essence, erase the identities of international adoptees.

As written, the Foreign Adopted Children’s Act (S. 1359/H.R. 3110: A bill to provide United States citizenship for children adopted from outside the United States, and for other purposes) supposedly simplifies the adoption process by conferring U.S. citizenship retroactive to birth. Adoptive families would apply for a Consular Report Of Birth which, like an amended birth certificate, makes it appear “as if” the adoptee was born to the adoptive parents. Proponents of the bill say this will help adoptive families by eliminating some of the paperwork and expense, and help adoptees by offering them the same inalienable rights as a U.S.-born citizen. There are plenty of concerns about this proposed legislation which have been remarked upon by bloggers in the adoption community. From where I’m sitting, it looks very much like erasing adoptees’ identities.

Internationally-adopted adoptees already have many difficulties reconciling their identities. They are severed from their cultures and languages of birth, suffering lifelong consequences as a result. The FACE Act would remove what little remains of their birth identities, replaced with a fiction that has more to do with appeasing adoptive parents than it does helping adoptees acclimate. It would put further hurdles in the path of adult adoptees attempting to seek information about their origins.

Adoptive families should not be frightened of an adoptee’s culture of origin. It is an irrevocable part of international adoption. Rather than sweeping this fact under the rug, adoptive families must embrace the cultural differences that inviting an international adoptee into their lives entails. You can’t just rename a kid and expect them to fit perfectly into your little world. Doing so sets the adoptee up for immediate failure, as they attempt to rationalize the lie they are expected to live with the face in the mirror. And we already know that amended birth certificates don’t work for domestic adoptees. I’m against anything that puts my international adoptee brethren in the same leaky boat I find myself in.

Please visit the Ethica page and contact your legislators, urging them to vote against the FACE Act.


  1. I blogged about this as well at

  2. http://Anonymous says

    It is not about erasing identities, but forging rights as a child chould be entitled to after being adopted. Why leave the stigma that an adopted child is less to a family than a biological one. Regardless, the enactment of this bill would not automatically erase anything – on the contrary, give more meaning to the child and families that adopt children.

  3. Anonymous, that stigma is going to be there anyway. What this bill will do is force international adoptees into the same dilemma we domestic adoptees already face. Our amended birth certificates were supposed to do exactly what you say, remove the stigma of being adopted. Instead they have proven to be nothing but a burden. Some adult adoptees have been unable to obtain driver’s licenses and passports purely because they do not have the original BC. Except for a handful of states, access to the original BC is either impossible or governed by highly expensive and arbitrary intermediary processes.

    All of the internationally-adopted adult adoptees I have spoken with are against this bill. That ought to tell you how much “meaning” it will offer the child once grown.

  4. Just posted in a couple places here but I’ll go on my little rant again: I think int’l adoptees should retain citizenship of their country of origin and be granted dual cit. My daughter is not a Canadian citizen; she is a Chinese citizen because I can’t guarantee that if she were to become Canadian she would still be allowed to keep her original citizenship. This is a big piece of her soul. I would not want any amended BC either. Citizenship will be up to my daughter when she is old enough to pursue it herself. I doubt very much that this kid is going to give up being a cit. of China.