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Has Trump Order Put Internationally-Adopted Children at Risk?

President Donald Trump's immigration order has prompted families who have adopted children internationally to double-check that the child's U.S. citizenship paperwork is in order. (Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr)
President Donald Trump's immigration order has prompted families who have adopted children internationally to double-check that the child's U.S. citizenship paperwork is in order. (Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr)
February 16, 2017

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- An Asheville mom had an unpleasant surprise this week when she called the Social Security Administration and discovered her adopted son is still listed as a "legal alien.”

Although Amber Ukena had filed the proper paperwork almost 10 years ago when she brought her son home from Ethiopia, a glitch in the system put his citizenship status in limbo. Ukena called to check on it after friends who also have children adopted internationally told her they were discovering the same problem.

"I honestly wouldn't have called to check on this, if we didn't have the current immigration climate that the new administration has put in place,” Ukena said. "It scares me that my child is not considered a citizen of this country - and he's 10 years old. And I adopted him at eight months."

Ukena has a Certificate of Citizenship for her son, a document she said many families of international children do not have. Because she has it, she is confident she will be able to resolve her son's citizenship status at the Social Security Office with proper paperwork.

But members of the adoption community are urging other adoptive parents in similar situations to verify their child's status.

President Donald Trump's immigration order is on hold for now because of a federal court ruling last week, but he is considering writing a new order to supersede the old one.

Ukena said that until the issue is resolved, she doesn't feel comfortable leaving the country with her son for fear they may be stopped upon reentry. She also wants to resolve the issue in case more countries are added to the watch list.

"My son is from Ethiopia, which is not being targeted, but it could be,” she said. "There's a lot of, a large Muslim population there, it's very close to the Middle East. And so, just getting ahead of all of this, and trying to have everything in place so that you feel as secure as possible."

The citizenship status of adopted children can be checked at the Social Security Administration. Parents will need the child's date and place of birth and Social Security Number, along with the parents' personal information.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC