Finally, after almost 2. 5 years after our husband, daddy, provider and protector surprisingly taken from us......he gets to come home!!!
This morning when I awoke, it felt like every other day of our life. I got the two oldest kids ready for school and dropped them off 20 minutes late because our alarm didn't go off. When I returned home i sat down on the couch by the fire and read our free weekly community newspaper. When I came across the section of the paper with birth announcements I got this sudden nagging feeling to check Rays case status at www.uscis.gov. Since they received our i-601 and i-212 waivers on June 5th 2013, our case status only said "We have received your waivers and check back for updates. Their have been days where I have literally checked our case status 20-30 times in one day, desperately wanting and answer. Is he coming home or not? This Morning when I checked his case status on my cell phone, it said the following;
I couldn't believe it! I screamed and immediately told my three youngest kids who were sitting on the couch next to me. James started crying, with huge tears in his eyes. He got up and ran up the stairs, not knowing quite what to do with his emotions, he layed on the stared and silently cried. That was when I broke down and cried. To see James so emotional when he rarely shows emotion.
I immediately posted the good news on my facebook page and two other i-601 waiver groups. As of now i between all three posts I have received over 200 likes and comments. Roy Germano called to congratulate us, along with a few other friends. We then drove back to my kids' school and I asked to have them called down and dismissed for the day. I pulled my little 3 kids out of the truck and had them wait on the sidewalk for Maddy and Damian to come out. The kids where wondering what was going on, so I lied to them and said I took you out of school because I have to take my truck to the mechanic and wont be able to pick you up later. I said oh let me take your pictures by this school bus. I then recorded as Aaden told Maddy and Damian "Daddy is coming home!." Here is the video on Youtube, their reaction is priceless!
Maddy and Damians reaction to "Daddy is coming home!." click here
My kids have been begging me for a year and a half to go to a local Chinese buffet to eat but I have always told them not now because it costs way too much money for 6 of us to eat. I decided today was a good day to take them to this buffet to eat, to celebrate some of the best news of our life! We stopped and told my mother the news, in which she was completely shocked and crazy excited for us. We took her to eat with us and my little sister and her son stopped by and ate with us. She then paid the entire bill for us! How sweet of her to buy our expensive lunch.
When I called Ray to tell him; He answered the phone and I said "Hun, you are coming home, you were approved." He said "What? I can't understand." I told him again and he said I still can not understand. The fourth time I said it, it sunk in what I was saying to him. He was of course very excited and emotional. He kept giggling and saying. Thank you God, I can not believe it.I think he was in shock because he kept saying "Are you sure?" He then called me two hours later and said "Hun, are you sure?" "Did I really get approved?" He said he was at a wedding when I called him and he had people all around him and he couldn't scream out like he wanted to. He said he is not going to tell anyone in Guatemala today because he didn't want to make it all about him at his family members wedding. That is so sweet of him, to think of others like that. He said he can't stop smiling and giggling though and people are wondering what is up with him.
When the kids and I got home they made a huge poster to hang on our house that says "Our daddy is coming home!!!!!" Me and the kids have finally calmed down and we all feel a calm and peace. It feels like this huge weight has just been lifted from my shoulders. Aaden said "Mommy, will you let me buy my daddy a Christmas present, so he wont be sad not to get any?" I said "Honey, daddy just got the best Christmas present of his entire life, he gets his 5 precious little babies back."
I told my kids, "God is so good, I feel like we have been given a second chance in life. Not everyone gets a second chance when they lose a loved one." I told them about how my little nieces mom died and they don't get her back, and how grandma lost grandpa and he will not be coming home. There is no bitterness to God for what we have been through. I know that God is giving him back to us and for that I will always be eternally grateful to him.
We are going to live everyday with Ray like it is a gift-- like everyday is our last. We will treasure the new memories we get to create with him. Ray has said so many times "I don't care if I have to work at McDonald's when I come back, I just want to come back and be with my wife and kids."
I can not say for sure when Ray will be home. From what I see with other cases (whom I have met on facebook) it can take 2-4 weeks after approval to get the Visa issued. I will get him an airplane ticket the moment he has the Visa in his hand. He will land in Las Vegas, Nevada and I will drive down and pick him up. Not sure if I will take the kids or not as it is a good 6 hours round trip. It would be great if I could pick him up Christmas eve and wrap him in a big present to surprise the kids on Christmas morning. We'll see what happens and I will of course update as details become available.
This journey we have been through has been a roller coaster of emotions. At times Ray and I have been so depressed that we couldn't get out of bed and at the same time me and the kids got to see Guatemala and meet our other family for the first time ever. It has been bittersweet for Rays mother as Ray surprised her when he came walking back home after 24 years away. She cried for 4 days straight and couldn't stop following him around as she finally had her son home again. I am sure it will be bittersweet for her again as she has to say goodbye to him again but at least now he can come and go to Guatemala as he pleases and he will be doing so legally.
Rays sister and her 7 kids have all been approved to legally reside in the U.S. as well and they will all live in California with their husband and father who has been coming and going back and forth between the two Countries for 30 years legally. His family only got to see him once a year for a short time and now they will all be reunited permanently too! Ray can not wait to go to California and visit his son who is almost 18 and was raised in a foster home since he was 4 years old. They would not give the little boy to Ray and me to raise because he had 5 other sibling (not Rays) and they would not separate them. (the mother had them taken 3 times from her, one time they took them because she was deported)
Our plan when Ray gets back is to pay off the $15,000 in debt we have accrued since his deportation. Much of that is credit card bills I could no longer pay when Ray was deported and debt we owe to family members for various reasons, including the first trip to Guatemala (I did pay the lawyer in full with my own money and do not owe anyone for that) Ray wants to spend the first two weeks at home with his kids everyday and just love, cuddle and play with them. He will then go out and find a job or renew his contractors license. Either way, I know Ray will work very hard to pay everyone back. With Rays first paycheck, we want to take the kids on a shopping spree and get them all shoes, pants, coats, shirts and the clothes they all so desperately need. Ray too will need to buy almost an entirely new wardrobe as he has almost nothing left to wear-- I personally only own one pair of pants and I can't wait to buy the things I need too. I know Ray will look forward to the day he can renew his drivers license again and feel at peace that no one is going to come take him away from his family again. He can not wait to drive his truck, go camping, eat at a buffet with no tortillas and just sit and watch a movie with his wife and kids by his side.
Throughout this entire 2.5 year process, we have found seen both evil and hate and pure love and generosity. We have found out who our true friends (and family) are and we have made so many new friends along the way. In fact I have experienced more generosity from strangers and acquaintances (now friends) than I have from family. (with the exception of a few and you know who you are, and I know my family all love me but it has been others outside of my family who have given money and helped out the most) I have dealt with some of the meanest hate mail but I have also had strangers email me and tell me how much our story has changed their views on deportation and immigration and how they are praying for us. For every piece of hate mail I have received 10 times more support mail. Thank you to everyone who has donated money to us, cooked us meals, watched my kids, let me park a vehicle or trailer for free, the letters to Congress, the letters to immigration, the sharing of our story etc. The list goes on and on and Ray and I are forever grateful to you for you generosity. For those of you who have wanted Ray to suffer and be punished for residing here illegally.....he has suffered. He has been in the worst kind of prison possible, one without his kids. He has paid for his mistakes with the loss of 2 1/2 years of his life. Unfortunately, his innocent wife and kids were forced to suffer too. Ray deserves this Visa, this legal status and in 2 years (might be three) I can apply for him to receive his U.S. Citizenship and he will never be thrown out of this Country again!
Ray loves the United States. This has been his home longer than Guatemala was. It is where his heart is. He does not feel any bitterness to the U.S. and he finally feels like he can call it home. I can't believe my hunny is finally coming home.