How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

How does an adoptee get deported? More easily than one might think

Photo by Geoff McKim/Flickr (Creative Commons)

An "examination room for adopted children" in Guangzhou, China, April 2010

Q: How does someone adopted legally as a baby by American parents get deported?

A: Relatively easily, and it's happened to several one-time adopted kids.

The case that's been getting media attention lately is that of Kairi Abha Shepherd, a 30-year-old Utah woman who was adopted from an orphanage in India when she was three months old. In spite of her legal adoption when she was an infant, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld an immigration court's decision that Shepherd is in the United States illegally and is deportable.

How and why? It's tricky, but it's a situation that quite a few adoptees have fallen into over the years. Shepherd's adoptive mother, who also adopted other children, died from cancer when her daughter was eight years old. At the time of her death, she had not completed her daughter's application for U.S. citizenship, although the girl was in the country legally.

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