Monday, March 5, 2012

Exceptionalism Revisited

I'm glad that the issue about adopted people being deported is being discussed more, but I really hate the rhetoric around the issue focusing on 'legal' or adoptee exceptionalism. Making exceptions for adoptees or for certain other involuntary immigrants like DREAMers, isn't the answer. We need a comprehensive change in the immigration and citizenship laws that reflect justice and human rights.
In this entry from Land of a Gazillion Adoptees, this quote really bothers me:
 “I would say that the US should change and amend the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 and make citizenship retroactive for all foreign born adoptees, regardless of age.  We adoptees never asked to be adopted and sent to the US.  However, since we had no choice and we were brought to the US legally by US citizens, then we should all be granted the same rights as biological children.” — Matthew Scherer, 3/4/2012
Why is this the argument? Whether you were brought to the US legally or not, or adopted by US citizens or not should be entirely beside the point. It's only by chance, random chance, that adoptees were brought to the US and not another country. It's random who gets chosen to stay in Korea and who is imported into the US. It's political decision who the US says is worthy and eligible for citizenship, visas, asylum,  refugee status, and who is not.

Furthermore, those decisions are far from just and fair. I have said this many times, but legal does not equal moral. The moral reason for allowing adoptees and other unwilling immigrants to remain in the US are:
  1. We are culturally American
  2. We had no choice about our immigration 
  3. Most of us have no ties, no support system in our birth countries now and few resources to survive there, including a lack of language skills
  4. The US created, facilitated, and encourage people from our countries to come to the US through legal and extra-legal means
  5. The US has colonized our countries and exploits them for natural resources, including labor and adoptable children
  6. In the case of adopted adults, there was an implicit agreement that we would be at least minimally taken care of in our new country by the adoption system which includes the various agencies and adoptive parents. 
So, while I appreciate the support that we are beginning to get from Korea and other sending countries for automatic retroactive US citizenship, I think we should aim higher and advocate for justice for all immigrants because adoptees aren't exceptional.


  1. In all honesty,the decision to become naturalized was ENTIRELY up to me. I was adopted under GERMAN LAW and I voluntarily became a citizen of THE USA. America is my home and I love my family. Given my multifaceted background: I speak Dutch, English and German w/Spanish. Our past is our past. Find people who love and appreciate you and life becomes MUCH EASIER. Ironically, India did something right w/the opportunity to obtain a 'green card' of sorts. I AM OKAY WITH IT. :)

  2. I don't really understand your point. Can you explain?