Many of my readers have adopted their children through international adoption. Some have considered adoption and almost all probably know someone who has completed an international adoption or heard about one. For those of you who have adopted internationally, I want you to stop for a moment and think about your child. For everyone else, think about a child you know or heard about who was born in another country and later adopted. Here are some questions I want you to answer about that child.
1) Was that child younger than 16 years old when he or she joined her forever (adoptive) family?
2) Did that child have the opportunity to decide if he or she wanted to move to the United States?
3) Does that child consider his or her birth country as their home or the United States?
4) Is there anything that separates that child from other children in his or her age group culturally? Does she or he act in ways or have values that are more like his or her birth culture than American culture?
5) If your child was forced to return to his or her birth country at age 18, would he or she fit in? Would they know the culture and social cues to fit in or would they stand out as different?
According to the Immigration Policy Center, approximately 65,000 undocumented immigrants graduate from United States high schools every year. Many of these children came here before they were 16 years old and have grown up much like the children you thought about. They live with their birth families instead of adoptive families but their parents would most likely answer the above five questions just as you did for your child. They were younger that sixteen when they entered the United States, they did not have the opportunity to decide if they wanted to come, they consider the United States as their homes and may not even realize they are undocumented immigrants, they are culturally Americans and they would stand out as foreigners in their birth country despite having similar physical characteristics.
Take amount to think about the future of these children and their well-being. Then contact your Senator or Representative and urge them to support the Dream Act. You can find the bill at http://www.thomas.gov and search for the Dream Act or Senate bill S.729.