POSTED: Saturday, April 7, 2012 - 10:00pm
UPDATED: Saturday, April 7, 2012 - 10:04pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — The only place Kaiti Tidwell feels like she exists is in her senior classroom at Centerpoint High School in Centerpoint, Arkansas.
But according the United States and Mexican government, she doesn't exist at all.
She's a girl without a country at a crossroads of a journey that began when she floated across the Rio Grande from Mexico, in an inner-tube, as an infant.
Kaiti was adopted when she was four by the Tidwell family.
"But that didn't change Kaiti's status because you have to go through the process," said Joann Tidwell, Kaiti's mother. "She still wasn't an American citizen. She wasn't a citizen of anywhere."
While Kaiti is legally her daughter, Joann has been unable to gain citizenship for her.
It's been an 11-year battle.
The Tidwells have applied for Kaiti's citizenship on six separate occasions.
Joann explained that Mexico will not recognize Kaiti and so the United States will not recognize her either.
Kaiti turned 18 in November.
On May 5th, she will be considered an illegal immigrant despite this being the only country she's ever known.
She has received a temporary Mexican passport and birth certificate.
Kaiti and her mother will go to Mexico to see if she can get permanant citizenship status with no guarantees that she will ever be able to return to the only life she has ever known.