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On September 12, 2019, Immigration Equality and Lambda Legal sued the U.S. State Department on behalf of Roee and Adiel Kiviti and their daughter, Kessem. Roee and Adiel are both U.S. citizens but only one of their children is recognized as a U.S. citizen.

Roee was born in Israel and grew up in Southern California. He became a U.S. citizen in 1993. He met Adiel, his future husband, in 2009 and they began to date in 2011. They both always knew they wanted to have kids. 

The couple married in October of 2013 in California and lived abroad until they moved back to the U.S. in 2015. Adiel was born in Israel and became a U.S. citizen in January 2019. 

They both became fathers in 2016 when they welcomed their first child into their lives. Lev was born in Canada through surrogacy, and was rightfully recognized as a U.S. citizen since birth.

The couple decided to have a second child, and their daughter Kessem was born in Canada at the beginning of 2019. However, when they applied for Kessem’s passport, a State Department employee wrote “surrogacy” on their application and a group of employees analyzed their application. They were initially told Kessem’s application was approved, and they paid for her passport. The next day, Adiel received a phone call from a State Department attorney asking about his residency and informing him that the government would determine Kessem’s citizenship through a provision of the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act) that only applies to children “born out of wedlock.”

Kessem’s passport application was ultimately denied and the couple was told the U.S. government does not recognize Kessem as a U.S. citizen. She has been living in Maryland on a Canadian tourist visa that expires in mid-September. 

Roee and Adiel’s suit is the fourth filed by Immigration Equality demanding the State Department’s change its discriminatory policy.

They say, “Every parent wants to protect their child, to give them assurances of tomorrow, and this policy isn’t letting us do that. Our daughter will know her story. She will know how she came into this world, she will know about all of the loving people who helped us become a family, and she will know how her parents fought for her rights and for the rights of other families.”