What’s that smell in this room? Didn’t you notice it, Brick? Didn’t you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room?.There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity.You can smell it. It smells like death.
Big Daddy to Brick, Cat on a Hot Tim Roof
I’ve been following the career of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu for years. On the Hill, Landrieu is Queen of Adoption. Because her husband and two children are adopted, she is an adoption expert. Sen. Landrieu, in fact, loves adoptees and adoption.so much that she has sponsored numerous federal adoption “reform” bills, including the oft-introduced Proud Father Act (national putative father registry) and the adoption industry bail-out Children in Families First Act (CHIFF). Both of these bills would, quick as a wink, generate scads of new lovable us(es) from around the world for the homes and playrooms of America’s childless and desperate while ignoring available-for-adoption children in our own fostercare system.
Sen. Landrieu is also the sponsor of a looks-good-on-paper amendment to the 2013 Senate Immigration bill. The amendment is intended to clean up citizenship problems for pre-2000 international adoptees, whose finalization paperwork in the US was never completed due to adoptive parent neglect or ignorance, government malfeasance, or in other ways is sketchy; thus, subjecting Forever Americans to deportation to their country of origin under vaguely defined circumstances.
Through the Child Citizen Act of 2000 (CCA) kids adopted internationally in 2000 and beyond are granted automatic US citizenship when the adoption is finalized in most cases. For “political” and other reasons,” however, pre-2000s were cut out of the final bill leaving many international adoptees circumstantially untethered and endangered.
Pre-2000s, in other words, are floated up the creek and out of US waters. without a paddle. Permanently. A good background on adoptee deportations written around the time that the CCA passed was published in the Washington Post.
Meet the Mundanes
I’ve been following adoptee deportations since the late 1990s when John Gall was shipped off to Thailand for kiting checks and stealing a car. I was surprised, however, to find so many listed in Pound Pup Legacy’s frighteningly large deportation file and case directory (including links to sources). US cross-country adoptees are being jackbooted from their Forever Families and Country for any infraction of the law the government–or, make that INS/ICE and its previous incarnations–see fit.
Nothing and nobody is too mundane to slip past the roving eye of the police state. A retired adoption agency owner told me a few years ago that she believed adoptees had been picked up, questioned, and sometimes held by ICE for the serious offence of applying for a Pell Grant. I have never been able to document this claim, but there are plenty of other mundanes (a term coined by my favorite political writer Will Grigg, to describe “the rest of us,” normal USians whack-a-moled by corporate elites and their thug squad of bureaucrats, cops, and courts.)
In 1988 Mary Anne Gheris,35, who came to the US as a toddler from Germany, was threatened with deportation after she admitted on a citizenship application that 13 years earlier she’d been convicted of misdemeanor battery in a hair-pulling incident over a boyfriend. She received a 1-year suspended sentence and 60 hours of community service cleaning cars and bathrooms at her county probation office.She was awarded citizenship in 2001 after the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles issued her a full pardon to stop deportation.
Late Discovery Adoptee (LDA) Rudi Richardson, bi-racial and a quarter Jewish, was born in a Bavarian women’s prison where his mother was serving time for prostitution. After three years in foster care he was adopted by a US Army Master Sergeant and his wife stationed in Germany. He did not learn he was adopted until he was 17. When he attempted to join the Army he learned he had never been naturalized, but told that if he signed up he would receive automatic US citizenship upon honorable discharge.Joined up. Honorably discharged. No citizenship In 2003, at the age of 47, after doing a short stint in the slammer on drug possession and petty theft, he was deported to Germany,where he was harassed by police as an American criminal. Upon receiving German citizenship papers he moved to London where he lived on the streets. Eventually he joined Narcotics Anonymous, got therapy, and married. In 2007 he founded Streeetlytes, a peer-on-peer organization that works with the homeless and addicted assisting with hot meals, shelter, and clothing, In 2011 German TV produced a documentary about his life. In 2008,
Mark Lyttle, suffering from Type 2 Diabetes, bi-polar disorder, and a learning disability, and estranged from his family,got the American heave-ho without a dime to his name. Charged with misdemeanor assault. Mark, was deported to Mexico after ICE ignored an FBI report proving that he had been born and adopted in North Carolina and was an American citizen.. Since Mark had no proof of Mexican birth, Mexico deported him to to Honduras which deported him to Guatemala with a side trip to Nicaragua along the way. After 6 months of deportation tourism, in which he begged on the streets and was assisted by American missionaries in his new homelands, an official at the US Embassy in Guatemala took the time to check out his story and within hours he was granted a US passport. and returned home. Upon arrival in Atlanta, though, ICE, despite his US passport, attempted to deport him again! Intervention by “high up” US government officials and the governor of North Carolina, overrode ICE. (Read here for a detailed account of this debacle.)
Here in Ohio two internationally adopted men and one woman have gone up the creek subjected to deportation orders. Curiously, they are all from the Akron area. There may be more Ohio adoptees that I don’t know about.
Joao Herbert. In 2000. after over a two-year battle with immigration authorities, Joao, 22, was deported to Brazil. He had been convicted in 1997 shortly after high school graduation,of selling 7.5 ounces of marijuana to a police informant in Wadsworth, near Akron. The offense, under Ohio law, was no big deal. Joao received probation and community service, but when federal authorities became aware of his citizenship status (which his adoptive parents were trying to solve) deportation orders were initiated. Ohio governor Bob Taft refused to consider a unanimous Ohio Parole Authority recommendation that Joao be pardoned which would have stopped his deportation.
After arriving in Brazil Joao, for a time worked as an English teacher in Campinas and lived in a small home on the outskirts of the town’s notorious .Sao Pedro de Viracopos slum. Desperate to return to the US, especially after his marriage broke up, he became involved allegedly in a gun-running scheme to get money to pay for his return and a new identity. In 2004, Joao was shot to death at his home. Details are murky. According to one report three teenage drug dealers pulled the trigger.. Another report claims he was killed by a Brazillian police death squad in an attempted $3000 shakedown. Friends in Brazil describe Joao as living “the straight and narrow” He never got the street smarts he needed, they say.
Pattrick Henderson, 42 from York Township, in western Medina County, is currently awaiting deportation Pattrick was abandoned as an infant on the steps of an American Red Cross office in Panama, At the age of 18 months he was adopted by a Viet Nam Special Forces veteran, and his wife when they were stationed in Panama. Like Rudi Henderson, Pattrick is an LDA. He didn’t learn he was adopted until he was 13. Four years later he tried to enlist in the Army and discovered that due to a technicality he wasn’t a US citizen. Because of a discrepancy in paperwork which listed two different dates of birth, (probably due to his abandonment) the adoption had never been finalized. Since the Hendersons couldn’t afford to go to Panama to try to get correct documents the matter was put on hold, and Pattrick remained in the US with a Green Card.
In 2001 Pattrick attempted to re-open his case. During an interview with Immigration he admitted that he had voted in an election when he was 18 and still in high school, an offense that stopped his petition cold. Over the years Pattrick accumulated three misdemeanor convictions: assault (1991), possession of pot and paraphernalia, (2000) and attempted child endangerment (2009) for allegedly putting his hand over the mouth the son of a former girlfriend..Pattrick’s former wife says that he never hurt their children and does not deserve to be deported.
Last year Pattrick missed an immigration hearing when his car broke down on the way to court in Cleveland, and was sent to an ICE lock-up where he awaits the result of his case.The government considers Pattrick dangerous due to his misdemeanor record,
Sandra Orantes-Cruz. Since I was not familiar with this case until I started to write this blog, and in the interest of time, I am cutting a pasting a summary of her story, taken from Pound Pup:
Sandra Orantes-Cruz, adopted in the US after her mother was killed in El Salvador, was convicted of felonious assault and kidnapping, in a fight with a boyfriend. She was sentenced to 3 years, and scheduled to be deported. With the support of the Prosecutor and Judge in the original case, her charged were reduced to 360 days probation, which stopped the deportation. Tragically, her 5 year old son died in a house fire several years later.
These cases are not anomalies. Nobody knows how many adoptees have been frog marched out of the US due to faulty adoption paperwork, Some deportees, in fact, were trafficked as children and illegally adopted. Naturally, no investigation or indictments came from that. We do know, however, adopted adults, who thought they were US citizens, have been returned (or threatened with return) to Thailand, Mexico, Columbia, Argentina, Korea, Ireland, Japan, India, Germany, El Salvador, Brazil, Philippines, Panama, Guatemala, Russia,and Poland. Probably more.
This brings us back to Mary Landrieu and her citizenship amendment. I’ve been aware of the amendment for a long time, but hadn’t thought much about it. I figured it had just gotten lost as usual in the Beltway Catacombs. I had no idea until Thursday that it had run afoul of CHIFF.
Landreiu. you see, has been instrumental in holding up the Immigration bill to twist the arms of international adoptees and their organizations whom she loves in to supporting CHIFF.
Kevin Haeboem Vollmers blew the lid off this last week in his Adoptees Rock blog Senator Mary Landrieus’ Big Diss Of The International Adoptee Community It has not gotten the AdoptionLand attention that it should. so I’m boosting it here.
His account of Landrieu’s moral and political corruption and mendacity gives new meaning to dirty politics.Adoptees, to Landrieu and her CHIFF ilk are expendable.
Kevin backgrounds the history of the CCA without overwhelming the reader with the complexities of the issue. of which are many. He explains that the citizenship amendment was written with the unacknowledged assistance of three Korean-American adoptees and an adoptive parent. Landrieu apparently prefers to leave her public with the impression that the it sprung from her pretty forehead.
Now to the red meat:
Why all of the ignoring? Let’s just say that there has been a message from the Senator’s office, as well as McLane Layton (you know, the person who mess things up the first time ( ie CCA compromises), that in order for the adoptee citizenship legislation to move anywhere, adoptees first need to support the Senator’s most recent adoption legislation – Children In Families First (CHIFF), which has been dubbed the “Adoption Agency Bailout.” The adoptees who worked on the adoptee citizenship legislation, of course, do not support CHIFF. And despite what the Senator and CHIFF supporters like to say, international adoptees as a whole do not like CHIFF, don’t know about it, or frankly could care less about it.
In short, Senator Mary Landrieu and her crew are holding the adoptee citizenship conversation hostage, and this act itself is an injustice.
Mary Landrieiu loves adoption and adoptees so one of the big questions that Kevin brings up and I thought of immediately upon reading his blog was why the amendment wasn’t a stand alone bill. Why tack it to a huge, cumbersome controversial piece of legislation that’s buried in the Beltway? Moreoever, the amendment passed with no dissent long ago and has the support of the State Department. It should be a no brainer. Adoption and adoptees always make the hearts of pols go pitty-pat. Unless, of course, it’s the adoptees who are no longer cute, warm, and fuzzy.
Kevin addresses this question a little abstractly and I’ll be a little concrete. Putting and keeping the amendment in the Immigration bill makes adoptee citizenship a bargaining chip,–leverage– for CHIFF. If you don’t support us, we’ll deport some of you. But as Kevin points out, it’s not working.
He writes: .The adoptees who worked on the adoptee citizenship legislation, of course, do not support CHIFF. And despite what the Senator and CHIFF supporters like to say, international adoptees as a whole do not like CHIFF, don’t know about it, or frankly could care less about it.
I agree. Despite what Landreiu and her CHIFFstrers claim, not one adoptee advocacy or civil rights organization, or adoption reform group of any significance supports CHIFF. (Sorry! Astroturfs don’t count! ) It is, of course supported by high rolling adoption agencies and lobbyists, and evangelical ministries with over-lapping money-making and conversion agendas. CHIFF supporters’ refuse to acknowledge the voice, concerns, and objections of adoptees and their families to the bill. Their puzzling yet amusing attacks on transracial and transnational adopteees, in particular, as “racist,” “anti-gay” and “anti-Semitic” indicate an acute unawareness of who they are dealing with, much less how to get a bill passed. Their own arrogance of mission has effectively shut down any possibility CHIFFsters had of passing their bill. The upshot is that important people, in and out of Washington, who might have supported CHIFF are looking at CHIFFsters’ anti-adoptee activities and amateur “lobbying” flubs and just saying NO. This is what happens when you don’t do your homework.or “leave it all to God” as some proponents seem to do.
Mary Landrieu is at least transparent about one thing: her attempt to blackmail US adoptees into complying with her and her Merry CHIFFsters demand for US “child saving” humanitarian intervention in Third World countries We’re on to her, though, and her scheme to sacrifice the lives and futures of adult international adoptees already in the US to procure Third World children to fill the pockets of the adoption industry and the churches of the “orphan-care” .movement.
Desperate for passage, CHIFFsters have incredibly redefined “orphan” as a child in a single parent family. One proponent tweeted, “Most “orphans” still have at least one parent that is alive. That doesn’t mean they don’t need new parents.
#adoption” When people, including me, asked him to clarify, he blocked us.
It’s not hard to see that this attitude could be easily portable. If it works in Congo, it will work here.Just ask Native Americans.
The people I wrote about are real people with real stories, not fairytale redemptives for American politicians and do-gooders to bargain away for fresh adoptee flesh.
The CHIFF message, unfortunately, is that the life and liberty of our brothers and sisters, adopted internationally decades ago, have no value. How many more Joao Herberts. Rudi Richadrsons, and Pattrick Hendersons will be created and held hostage to corporate special interests and their clients under the guise of CHIFF humanitarianism?.
(NOTE: This is a dry run of a much more formal piece I’m writing for the Columbus Free Press. It will be awhile.
Join me on Twitter DBastardette