Currently, immigration services do not recognize state court orders to amend a child’s birth date, forcing families to seek a correction from the adoptee’s country of birth
Senators’ legislation which would require immigration services to recognize state court orders and cut red tape for adoptive families now heads to House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) today announced that their bipartisan legislation to help families who adopt abroad correct errors to birth certificates passed the Senate. Currently, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not recognize state court orders to amend a child’s birth date, forcing families to seek a correction from the adoptee’s country of birth or have two official birth dates for their adopted child. The Accuracy for Adoptees Act, which would authorize USCIS to recognize state court orders and cut red tape for adoptive families, will now head to the House of Representatives for a vote. Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mike Enzi (R-WY) and John Barasso (R-WY) are also original cosponsors of the bill.
“Families have enough hoops to jump through when adopting internationally,” Klobuchar said. “We shouldn’t be adding to that red tape by placing extra burdens on those trying to get accurate personal records for their children. I am pleased that this bill has passed the Senate, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House to ensure that this common sense legislation become law.”
“Every day, American families open up their homes and their hearts to children in need from all over the world,” Blunt said. “This bipartisan bill will make the transition easier for families and their adopted children by removing excessive red tape and ensuring the accuracy of their birth records.”
"My child has been through more loss and grief in her first years than most of us will experience in a lifetime. For her to come here and be victimized by this process is shameful. I am so proud to have Senator Klobuchar represent the rights of my daughter and all adopted children who will experience the full freedom that being a citizen of this great country should provide," said Erin Bonitto from Cold Springs, Minnesota, who is the mother of two adopted children from Ethiopia.
Currently, USCIS only recognizes the original birth certificates from the child’s country of birth. For children who were orphaned and lacked proper medical care in their countries of birth, the ages given on their certificates may be incorrect, which only becomes apparent once the child has begun to grow up in the U.S. While a state court judge can make the decision to amend the date based on this evidence, USCIS will not recognize such an order, and federal agencies like the State Department and the Social Security Administration follow the USCIS date of birth. This results in children growing up with a discrepancy that leaves them vulnerable to identity fraud.
Senator Klobuchar has been a strong advocate of supporting families throughout both domestic and international adoption processes. In September she sent a letter to USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas urging them to recognize state court orders amending adoptee’s birthdates. She also recently introduced The Supporting Adoptive Families Act to help provide pre- and post- adoption support services, including mental health treatment, to help adoptive families stay strong. In addition, Klobuchar authored the International Adoption Simplification Act to help siblings stay together during an international adoption and protect adoptees from unsafe immunizations in foreign countries. The bill was signed into law on November 30, 2010.