Yook Sook Kim was one of the many adoptees that were flown from Korea during the early 80’s where it was common for families to adopt children that came from all over the country of Korea.
Through that opportunity given to her at such a young age, Yook Sook was able to attain her United States citizenship through an Iowan couple who took her into their arms.
Thankfully, my mother was able to live out her life as an American citizen where she gave me the opportunity to live a life in the United States as well.
Yet, not all adopted children from South Korea adopted by United States citizens were granted citizenship, a major systematic flaw that permeates in present-day immigration policy.
As present policy goes, regardless of when the adoption was finalized, currently adoptees who were over the age of 18 on February 27, 2001, do not automatically acquire citizenship.
Such a policy has an almost reminiscent effect on Asian lives in Iowa as did the John-Reed Act did, which barred Asians from entering the country to become U.S citizens.
I would point to data from the state of Iowa, but the unfortunate reality is that there are significant gaps in the United State’s tracking of data related to intercountry adoption during a number of critical decades, spanning from the 1940s to and late 1990s. In other words, precise and aggregate state and national state data are not available to the public eye.
Despite the many Korean adoptions over the years, about 18,603 estimated Korean adoptees were left out nationally.
That is why it is utterly essential for The Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2022 to be adopted and signed into law so all immigrants who were adopted by the age of 18, regardless of current age, interactions with the criminal system, or deportation status, can rightfully secure their right to citizenship.
This is an issue impacting Koreans within the state of Iowa, where individuals are unable to live fully despite being adopted years ago.
International adoptees have helped to build a vibrant, diverse, and strong American. Yet, through no fault of international adoptees on their own, it’s time for our elected officials to ensure that all families created through adoption have equal protection under the law.
I can only imagine that this could have been my Mother stripped from her citizenship, thus ripping from her the opportunities her and I have enjoyed over the years.