INTRODUCTION OF AGE-OUT FIX FOR ADOPTED FOREIGN CHILDREN -- (Extensions of Remarks - June 14, 2004)
HON. ZOE LOFGREN
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MONDAY, JUNE 14, 2004
Ms. LOFGREN. Mr. Speaker, many American families bring new children into their lives through foreign adoption. Some do so to help orphans in countries unable to meet the needs of abandoned children while others adopt for more personal reasons.
Families spend years of effort, thousands of dollars, and more importantly, become emotionally attached to the child they adopt. Unfortunately, because of odd provisions in the immigration code, in rare cases adoptive parents find there is no way to gain legal immigration status for the child they have adopted from overseas.
Current law allows foreign children adopted by American citizens to attain legal immigration status and citizenship through their adoptive parents. To do so, the adoptions must be finalized by the age of 16 for immigration purposes. However, some adoptions can be very long and difficult processes, especially international adoptions. An adoption initiated at age 14 or even earlier can sometimes only be finalized after age 16. In that case, the child who has been adopted will be denied legal immigration status to stay with their adoptive family, unlike children whose adoptions were finalized sooner.
Often, American parents seek help by approaching their Member of Congress to seek a private relief bill so their child can stay with the family. But there is a better way than dealing with these tragic cases on such a haphazard basis.
Today I am introducing a bill to straighten out this problem. By simply changing the current requirement that adoptions be finalized before the adoptee's 16th birthday, to requiring that adoptions by initiated before the 16th birthday, these terrible cases will be avoided. In this way, children whose adoptions have been time-consuming may still obtain U.S. immigration status through their adoptive parents like other adoptees. Bureaucratic delay should not be the reason parents are separated from their adopted children.
Congress has considered and granted private relief for some children in these difficult situations whose parents are lucky enough to get a private relief bill introduced and passed in Congress. Rather than approach this problem in a piecemeal fashion through private relief bills, I hope this Congress will work together to quickly pass this important bill and provide relief to many American families who only want the chance to begin their new life with an adopted child.