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I know there's another thread on this, but my question is a little more nuanced.
If an American born and residing couple adopt a child from another country (say Russia), that child receives a new Amended Birth Certificate once the adoption is complete. That Birth Certificate will have the child's new name and new parents name listed and will be issued in the county the adoptive parents are living in. So, for example, this Russian born child will have a Cook County IL Birth Certificate with his/her American parents listed as the mother & father.

What's to stop this person from running for President some day? The Birth Certificate doesn't say "adopted", it just says he/she was born in Russia. It doesn't say one way or the other if the mother literally gave birth to the child. Children born to American parents traveling in Russia are still natural born American citizens and their Birth Certificate would look the same as this adopted child's birth certificate. Couldn't the adopted child just say they were born to parents travelling in Russia?

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    The BC doesn't change where the kid was born, no – K Dog Nov 7 '16 at 19:29
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    And you would have all those adoption records to prove that the Russkie was in fact a Russkie – K Dog Nov 7 '16 at 19:31
  • I know, but adoption records are sealed, no one but the adoptive parents know about them. Sometimes, the child doesn't even know. Children born to American parents that are travelling in a foreign country are still considered natural born citizens. That birth certificate and an adopted child's certificate would look the same. – LisainIL Nov 7 '16 at 19:38
  • The requirement isn't what the BC says. It's the fact that the person needs to be born in the US. – K Dog Nov 7 '16 at 19:43
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    That's not true. You absolutely do not have to be born in the US to be president of the United States. That has already been determined for George Romney, John McCain and Ted Cruz. – LisainIL Nov 7 '16 at 19:49
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This would be very tricky to pull off now. It seems like the fashionable thing to dig into birth certificates and origins, if there's even a hint something might be "shady". For example, even though Obama, Romney, McCain, and Cruz were clearly born to (at least one) US citizen, that didn't stop people from digging. I would expect a lawsuit to open up any sealed records if that was the case. Whether that would be successful or not, I couldn't say, but I don't think it's plausible that the whole thing would fly completely under the radar.


It would also depend on what state you were adopted into, and whether it was finalized domestically or abroad. In almost half the states1, there is an explicit note on the birth certificate that would say it is not evidence of US citizenship. In this situation, the attempt to claim "natural born" status would almost certainly fail. For example, Alabama's code states (source):

The certificate shall be labeled ‘certificate of foreign birth’ and shall show the actual country of birth. A statement shall also be included on the certificate indicating that it is not evidence of U.S. citizenship for the child for whom it is issued.

1 Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, and West Virginia (and Guam)

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  • Not to mention brothers and sister, moms, dads, friends all knowing the adoption took place. It's really difficult to have an adoption completely privately – K Dog Nov 8 '16 at 13:12
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I do not know the peculiarities of the US law but logically, "natural born citizen" should mean "citizen from birth".

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    "Natural born citizen" is either born on US soil OR born to American parents (regardless of birth location). Birth certificate for a child born to American parents on foreign soil would look the same as a child born in a foreign country but adopted by American parents.... thus, my original question. – LisainIL Nov 7 '16 at 19:40
  • If you want to learn about U.S. law, and the relevant British law that preceded it which uses this term, in order to write a better answer, start with the Congressional Research Service's discussion of the subject. – JdeBP Nov 8 '16 at 12:02

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