Army vet fights for daughter’s citizenship

Louisiana families who hope to grow their family through adoption often turn to international adoptions, which is sometimes a more affordable and quicker process than those available domestically. While most parents are able to easily obtain citizenship for their children, it can be a bit trickier when it comes to older children. A retired Army officer and his wife are still trying to get their daughter’s citizenship approved years after the adoption process was finalized. 

The veteran and his wife initially brought their niece to the United States from South Korea back in 2012. She was 15 at the time, and although they planned on finishing the adoption, the family decided to put the process on hold until after the father returned from a deployment. At the time, they were told that they could delay the adoption until their daughter turned 17 without any legal repercussions. 

Although their state’s law did allow them to wait to finish up the adoption, federal immigration law was a different story. In order to legally derive citizenship through adoption, children born in other countries must be adopted before they turn 16 years old, which their daughter was not. The family pursued a lawsuit in an attempt to achieve her citizenship but were unsuccessful. Now an adult, she maintains her legal presence in the U.S. through a student visa. 

Deriving citizenship is an important aspect of adoption for foreign-born children. However, immigration law is extremely strict when it comes to meeting deadlines and cut-offs, particularly in respect to the child’s age at the time of adoption. Louisiana families who are planning to adopt or are already in the process should be aware of these expectations so that they can be certain that everything is completed by the necessary deadlines.