Monday, January 30, 2012

Our families cannot come to the USA

Most families separated by adoption are never reunited. The few that are are reunited customarily verify their relationship with a DNA test. Usually adoptees travel to their motherlands to search for, visit, and find their families. Their families usually have no legal way to even visit their daughters and sons in the US because obtaining a tourist visa is nearly impossible, as is being granted an immigration visa because we are no longer legal relatives of our natural families.

We adoptees cannot sponsor our DNA test-proven relatives for immigration. We cannot have our long-lost parents visit to attend our weddings, graduations, or births of their grandchildren. The US-CIS says we're not family. Not immediate relatives. We are denied our right to reunite our families although adopters are constantly given special consideration and insist on special privileges for 'their' [adopted] children. Men are allowed to sponsor their not-yet related fiancées from mail order bride catalogs, adopters sponsor their not-yet related babies, but adoptees cannot sponsor their parents or their siblings. How is this logical? just? legal?

Before 1965 it was nearly impossible for Asians to legally enter the US due to the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Gentleman's Agreement. (*The US Border Patrol was established to keep Chinese people from crossing the US-Mexican border.) The Civil Rights movement inspired change in the immigration laws that abolished blatantly racist policies that only allowed immigration from northern and western Europe, to one that was flawed but somewhat fairer. Quotas still limit immigration from many countries, so people who want to immigrate from them can only can do so if they have relatives sponsor them.

Even visitors from countries that source international adoption are mostly excluded. To secure a tourist visa, one must prove sufficient ties to the home country (job, owning a business and/or a house), adequate money to visit without working (and to not be working during the visit in the home country), and pay high application fees without any guarantee of those applications being approved. This is usually impossible for people from China, Guatemala, Central and South America, Eastern Europe, and until 2008, Korea. (The Republic of Korea, aka South Korea, is now part of the Visa Waiver program which allows visits of up to 90 days without a visa for tourism or business reasons. All of the countries in the program are rich, and produce low numbers of perceived visa-overstays or other irregular immigrants.)

Adoption cuts all legal ties between the adoptees and their natural families. Because adoption is a zero-sum game, we must lose one family if we are to gain another. Sometimes (rarely) families separated by adoption are reunited. Usually this happens after years in the US., after names, identities, histories, records, and citizenship have been changed. Once DNA tests establish an undeniable relationship between child and parent or between brother and sister, we still are separated by miles, language, customs, and laws. While distance and culture are formidable barriers, it is only the law that is insurmountable and unjust.

US Citizens and permanent residents are allowed to sponsor immediate relatives and fiancé(es) to immigrate. In the US, an immediate relative is a parent, sibling (does not specify full/step/half), spouse, and of course, child. In fact, adoptees are permitted to immigrate to the US as immediate relatives of their adopters, despite most not being finalized adoptions, therefore not legal relatives of the parent(s) sponsoring their immigration, on IR visas. The reverse right is not afforded to adoptees' natural families.

*From Customs and Border Patrol's website: "Although these inspectors had broader arrest authority, they still largely pursued Chinese immigrants trying to avoid the Chinese exclusion laws."