May, 2023

No Sheep Left Behind

Chelsy Gevas, Senior Staff Attorney

The United States is the only home that Susan* has ever known. She, along with thousands of other Korean infants orphaned during the Korean war, was adopted by a US family through the newly emerging, and largely unregulated, process of international adoption. Having come to the Pittsburgh region as a toddler, she has never known another language or culture. In her eyes, she is an American- through and through.

Sadly, the United States government has not granted her that same identity. I had to deliver the devastating news that she is not an American citizen.

A gap in adoption and immigration policy has left a heartbreaking void that Susan and an estimated 15,000-18,000 other international adoptees born before 1983 have unwittingly fallen into: they are not United States citizens. Many already coping with the loss of one cultural identity are now suffering a second blow.

Unfortunately, the ripple effects of this legal sinkhole extend far beyond an individual’s sense of belonging. Something as simple as voting in a U.S. election, generally seen as an act of patriotism, can result in charges of fraud for these individuals and can carry dire consequences. Additionally, travel outside of the United States is nearly impossible as they are not entitled to U.S. passports.

Unimaginably, some of these adoptees have even found themselves subject to deportation and have been forced to return to a country and culture that they have never known.

As I sat in my office with Susan explaining all of this, my heart broke. I could sense that an old wound was being broken open for a second time. Perhaps it was confirming a fear she always had- that she didn’t belong, or that she’d never truly be home. It was clear to me that our government had not intended to do her harm, rather, she had fallen through the cracks.

Attempts to pass legislation to fix the problem have never been successful and this relatively small group of adoptees simply do not have a loud enough voice or a large enough impact to affect the law that would make all the difference in their lives.

These victims may not be loud enough to gain the attention of law makers, but at CIAC, we know that they are completely seen and deeply cherished by our Father in heaven. No need, however small or complicated, is overlooked in His kingdom:

A Happy Ending

In Luke, Jesus explains this through a parable saying, “Which of you men, if you had one hundred sheep, and lost one of them, wouldn’t leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one that was lost, until he found it? When he has found it, he carries it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”

God leaves no sheep behind.
We at CIAC aim to serve our clients with that same level of commitment to the lost and marginalized. Through the Lord’s provision and your generous giving, we have sought resources and determined pathways to secure United States Citizenship for Susan and others like her.

She will soon have those vital documents in-hand and, prayerfully, that wound will begin to heal.

Please Join Us

In order to continue to meet the ever-growing immigration legal needs in our community and beyond, we need your on-going support- both financial and in prayer.

The number of requests we receive for help each month continues to grow. Our deepest desire is to expand our resources to meet this need. Will you consider becoming a monthly donor to help us to reach that goal?

As always, we thank you for walking along side us as we seek justice and share Jesus with our immigrant and refugee neighbors. God bless!