The Fourth of July is here again and as we celebrate the birthday of our great nation, I reflect upon citizenship.
Born a U. S. citizen, I admittedly took my citizenship for granted until I began traveling internationally and began to comprehend the scope of what my citizenship meant and what privileges it evoked. Upon becoming an adoptive parent, the importance of having U.S. citizenship for my children became a quest.
Although my children are now U.S. citizens, this wasn’t the case for my girls when they became our daughters. They arrived home on their issued alien visas and birth country passports. (I found the term alien offensive, since my children were human and weren’t from another galaxy. I still cringe when I hear the term.)
Exhausted from the emotional rollercoaster of adoption, I felt slapped in the face upon realizing that my children did not receive automatic citizenship upon being adopted. Mark and I had more financial outlay, bureaucratic red tape, and emotional upheaval to contend with. I only wanted to enjoy the fact that my children were home and get on with being a family. It made sense to me that any child of a U.S. citizen should hold the same status as their parents – recognized, fully and wholly, by the United States government. It irked me that the IRS, our insurance company, friends, families, and church, acknowledged my kids, but they were not recognized as U.S. citizens. I found myself in the role of advocate. Along with thousands of other adoptive parents, I pushed for automatic citizenship for adopted children of U.S. citizens.
On February 27, 2001, over 100,000 foreign-born adopted children became lawful permanent residents of the United States with the passage of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. Two of those foreign-born adopted children were my daughters. With joyful tears and waving American flags, we celebrated in the State capital rotunda with thousands of other families as our children became U.S. citizens. The worry of my children being unprotected and not having the same rights, duties, and responsibilities as their older brother evaporated.
My youngest son arrived home on a different visa and was conferred citizenship as he entered customs with us. It was a wonderful feeling.
We head out today to see a parade and wave flags, honoring our country and the brave men and women that have come before us. But as I wave mine, it will be for my children as well.