Asian American Adoptees Without Citizenship

04/03/2017

Joy Alessi is 50 year-old Korean American adoptee, born in South Korea, and adopted at 7 months old to U.S. citizens. She assumed like many, that she was an American citizen, but like others, found out she didn’t have citizenship.

“From my earliest memories, I knew that as a foreign adoptee others perceived me as an “Alien.” I grew up in a predominantly “white” environment, and although I felt American on the inside, I always felt treated as an inferior outsider.”

“When I was 15, I wanted to travel overseas on a youth mission trip, but my parents prevented from going because (as I have since learned) they never filed naturalization papers after my adoption. Today, nearly 35 years later, I discovered that my mother contacted the adoption agency for proof of citizenship, but neither they or my parents took measures to resolve this. My parents also told me that a birth certificate was not available for adoptees, an error that I recently uncovered. I finally located my (archived) “Delayed Birth Registration,” and after nearly 50 years, I have the birth certificate I was meant to have. Had my parents asked for a copy following the adoption proceedings, my entire life would have been different. As explained to me by the state, this record proves my citizenship through legal adoption.”

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