Overview of federal legislation introduced in the 118th Congress that impacts adopted people in the United States. State legislative summaries are available here.
Analysis by Gregory D. Luce. Current as of March 14, 2023. Bills with a globe icon indicate that the bills impact intercountry adoptees in the United States.
Equal Citizenship for Children Act
Note: this is an initial analysis as of March 14, 2023. It is subject to change as more research is completed.
HRXXXX. Introduced by Rep. Yvette Clarke (NY-09) and Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12), the Equal Citizenship for Children Act would amend current law so that those who were or are under 18 years of age and residing in the United States in the legal custody of a US citizen parent (whether adoptive or biological and including naturalized US citizens) would automatically acquire US citizenship, retroactive to those born after 12:00pm EST on January 9, 1941. The person, while under the age of 18, must also have been residing in the United States as a legal permanent resident (i.e., possessed a green card) or had a “pending application to adjust status to lawful permanent resident.”
The key provision for intercountry adoptees is retroactivity, which would assure US citizenship for intercountry adoptees so long as they had met the requirements of the Act while under the age of 18. Presumably, this would include previously deported adoptees (though this may be complicated and needs more analysis). It would not, however, apply to intercountry adoptees or others who arrived in the United States on a non-immigrant visa (e.g., a tourist/visitor visa) and who did not obtain a green card while under the age of 18. The act also dispenses with a requirement of physical custody of the child with their US citizen parent(s), and clarifies the definition of a child to include 1) “the nonmarital child of a legal custodian citizen father” and 2) the child of a US citizen parent if the parent-child relationship is recognized under US or foreign parentage laws.
The bill already has seventeen co-sponsors in the House, including Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Greg Casar (TX-35), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-4), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Glenn Ivey (MD-04), Sara Jacobs (CA-51), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Barbara Lee (CA-12), James P. McGovern (MA-2), Grace Meng (NY-06), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Jill Tokuda (HI-2), David J. Trone (MD-06), Juan Vargas (CA-52), and Nikema Williams (GA-05).
Hospital Adoption Education Act
HR1475. While the text of the bill is not yet available, the heading reads as follows: “to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop and nationally disseminate accurate, relevant, and accessible resources to promote understanding about sensitivities regarding adoption in the health care industry.” We’re not sure what to make of this, other than maybe they’ll include the issue of adopted people not knowing their health history and risks? Doubtful. The head of the National Center for Adoption is also quoted as saying “Health care workers often play a key role in helping individuals with an unintended pregnancy, yet too often these health care workers don’t know how to provide accurate, non-directive information about adoption. We’re grateful to Rep. Smucker and Rep. Davis for their leadership on this bipartisan effort to ensure that health care workers have the ability to support expectant parents to understand and make a decision about adoption.” We’ll have more details once we review the text.
Note: bills introduced in the 117th Congress, from 2021 to 2023, are available here.