Why All Adoptees Need a Certificate of Citizenship

Holt adoptee Susan Cox highlights the importance of securing a certificate of citizenship, and urges all adoptees and adoptive parents to take this critical step. Susan also serves as Holt’s vice president of policy and external affairs. 

Susan new citizenship 58
A childhood photo of Susan Cox holding her certificate of citizenship after joining her family through adoption from Korea.

When I was adopted in 1956, I came to the U.S. with a Korean passport and a U.S. visa. I did not have a birth certificate then, and still don’t. The day I became a naturalized citizen was a big day and my parents impressed upon me how important it was.

To get a work permit as a teenager, I had only my certificate of citizenship (naturalization papers) and Korean passport. Because those two documents could not be replaced, we made the trip to the nearest immigration office and presented the documents in person so that they would never be out of sight.

I’m grateful that my parents took this responsibility seriously and took the necessary steps to provide me with the protections granted by U.S. citizenship. I’m keenly aware that many adoptees did not have the same experience and that some of them are vulnerable without a certificate of citizenship as adults.

Particularly for adoptees who never received adoption documents from their parents, or do not have them for whatever reason, Holt is committed to helping you access your adoption papers.

If you have your certificate of citizenship, it is not necessary to apply for a new one. However, out of an abundance of caution, if you have misplaced or do not have your papers, we urge you to apply for one. To learn more, visit the USCIS help center online.

We encourage all adult adoptees and parents of youth adoptees to double check their citizenship status and ensure they can prove that they are U.S. citizens.

Any adoptee that was 18 or older in 2001 and would like to discuss their citizenship status is welcome to contact Holt’s post-adoption team through our PAS website, located here.

For adoptions after 2001, even if you have a valid passport, we recommend you also get a certificate of citizenship.

If you need help applying for a certificate of citizenship, we are here to assist you. We will respond to requests for more information as promptly as possible, but there could be delays based on volume of requests. There will be no fees for this service.

For more detailed information, click here. If you have additional questions or concerns you can also contact me at susanc@holtinternational.org.

Susan Cox | Vice President of Policy & External Affairs

2 Replies to “Why All Adoptees Need a Certificate of Citizenship”

  1. We got Maelyn her Certificate of Citezenship, shortly after bringing her home from China! We also re-Adopted her in Illinois, then we were able to get her a birth certificate from Illinois! I highly advise everyone to do so, not too costly & well worth it, and also extended family were able to be involved, so turned into another celebration!

  2. The instructions we received from Holt when we adopted nearly 30 years ago included all the processes to insure legal US adoption (not just country of birth) and USA Citizenship. I can’t imagine that these same instructions haven’t been passed on to every adoptive parent for all 30 years. Thank you Holt for your attention to detail and professionalism. All I had to do, was heed your instructions!!

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