Heather Costello, wife of Keith Dallmer, is due to fly into Newark airport on Thursday. She will have one of the couple’s two sons with her and will be staying a week.
Then she has to fly back to Ireland to await news from the Immigration and Naturalization Service that all is well and that she can come back to New Jersey with both her sons.
That, at least, is what she’s hoping for.
Costello has been stranded in Dublin for the last seven months. Dallmer, her husband, has been at the family home in Sicklerville, N.J. The family’s separation is due to the U.S. immigration status of Heather’s 8-year-old son, Adam.
The Dallmer family is an expanded one. When the couple married in September 2000, it was second marriage for both. Dallmer then adopted Adam.
“He has become my son in every sense of the word,” Dallmer said.
Costello gave birth to a second son, Harry, in December 2001.
Last June, Dallmer and Costello, a pre-school teacher, received word that her father was ill. She decided to fly back to Ireland. She took the boys with her for what should have been a six-week stay.
But when it came to returning to the U.S., Adam was stopped by the Immigration and Naturalization Service at Dublin airport because his immigration status was not in order. The necessary paperwork had apparently somehow been lost at the National Visa Center in St. Louis.
The INS and the State Department pointed the finger at each other. Now the couple is hoping that a replacement batch of immigration forms filed with the center will be processed before another month of separation is notched up.
Their efforts are being aided by Rep. Robert Andrews, in whose New Jersey district the Dallmers have their three-quarters-empty home.
“Tomorrow will not be soon enough,” Costello said of the time she is hoping all four will be reunited.
She is flying to the U.S. this week to have her valid U.S. visa updated on her passport. Fourteen-month-old Harry will be traveling with her. But Adam is staying in Dublin with his grandparents.
“Adam had to undergo an 8-week criminal background check. He was 7 at the time,” Costello said. “I just want us all to get back home to New Jersey.
“Harry the baby doesn’t really understand what all this is about, but Adam goes through phases thinking it’s all his fault. He really misses Keith. We just all want to be together again.”