Stacey’s Story, Michigan

Story Collection

Stacy shares her narrative, giving insight of about how lacking citizenship sabotages a desire to learn about her origin and share it with her children, and more importantly jeopardizing the ability to continue to provide for her own growing children.

Adoptee femaleStacy, Michigan. A mother of two children was advised to not file for citizenship.

It has been about 5 years since I found out that I was not a U.S. citizen. It happened when I planned a trip to travel back to Korea and I had problems getting a passport! It was a bad way to find out my lack of status, but after hearing about other adoptees’ experiences, I feel fortunate it wasn’t a worse situation.

I was shocked when the first lawyer I spoke with recommended I live undercover instead of filing paperwork for citizenship. I was told the process of filing would alert Immigration to the many years I had voted and claimed I was a US citizen.

As an adoptee and a mom of two daughters, the thought of being deported and losing them was extremely unnerving. I was also worried about losing my job if my employers ever found out about my status. I was scared but also angered by the injustice of it all. I wasn’t sure who I was most mad at – my parents for assuming I was a citizen, the adoption agency for not following up with my parents, or the Child Citizenship Act for granting citizenship for some adoptees but excluding me. Luckily for me, I found another immigration lawyer, and with their help, I am now a permanent resident.  My heart goes out to other adoptees that are still living in silent fear of deportation.

ARC notes to readers: Permanent residents are able to have rights to live and work without sponsorship in the U.S., however, they are not usually allowed U.S. Passports for traveling abroad. Those with permanent residency status can lose their rights depending on how the federal government interprets criminal activity. Permanent Residents are eligible to apply for naturalization without any special exceptions or consideration for their status as an adopted person. If a non-citizen or permanent resident is detained by ICE/CBP/USCIS, the person does not have the right to a court-appointed attorney. If the person wants legal counsel, the person is responsible for retaining and paying the legal costs. Only U.S. citizens are granted the right to court-appointed legal counsel and fair trial regarding justice and legal systems within the U.S.