My name is Matthew Ullom. I was adopted from Korea when I was six years old. My adoptive father was an officer in the U.S. Navy and my adoptive mother was an art teacher. Both were U.S. citizens and they went through all of the proper legal channels to adopt me. Unfortunately they never finished the paperwork required to attain my Certificate of Citizenship.
For 38 years I was living in this country under the assumption that I was a citizen. I got married, had four kids and purchased two homes. I voted, I paid my taxes and even opened my own small business. I have a social security card, a driver’s license, a delayed certificate of birth, my adoption decree, my visa and my Korean passport. I had never at any point had anyone question my citizenship until I applied for my passport for a family vacation. I was told that I was not eligible for a passport because I wasn’t a citizen. I hired an immigration attorney and began the naturalization process. I went through the interviews and took the test. I paid hundreds of dollars to submit all of the paperwork. I got all of my voting records and cancelled my voter registration, as instructed.
In the end I received a letter explaining that because I had voted (in a local election FOR a school levy) I was not eligible for citizenship. I would have to wait five years from the last date I voted and start the process all over again. I would have to pay the fees and resubmit the paperwork and take the test all over again. Even after I repeat this process over again there is a chance that the government could deny my citizenship for some other arbitrary reason. I heard a woman was turned down because the government told her she waited too long to apply for citizenship. She was in her 60s and had been adopted as an infant.
The only way to guarantee the security and freedoms of international adoptees is to close this loophole. We did not ask to come to this country. We did not enter this country illegally. There is absolutely no reason our citizenship should be denied just because we were older than 18 when the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 was passed. We went through the exact same legal process as these younger adoptees.