Irish-born Adam and his mother, Heather Costello, a Dublin native, were stranded in Ireland since last summer after Heather had flown back to see her father who was ill.
Adam’s father, Keith Dallmer, and brother Harry, were waiting in Sicklerville, N.J., for the immigration mix-up to be settled, thus allowing the expanded Dallmer family to be reunited.
The family is based on a second marriage, Adam being Dallmer’s adopted son, with Harry having being born to Dalmer and Costello.
Adam and his mother were prevented from returning to the U.S. because the paperwork needed to secure Adam a green card had been lost at the National Visa Center in St. Louis. What followed was long months of separation and waiting in both Dublin and New Jersey though the family was able to secure held and advice from their congressman, Rep. Robert Andrews.
The waiting had apparently ended earlier this month when Adam and Costello were summoned to the U.S. embassy in Dublin for an interview. But the interview was rescheduled because questions arose as to whether Adam’s parents were responsible for reimbursing school fees in New Jersey, where Adam had remained registered in a local school.
The issue was resolved to the family’s satisfaction and the interview rescheduled. But it was to take place on a day when there was a rally planned outside the embassy in Ballsbridge, Dublin, protesting the U.S.-led war against Saddam Hussein.
“I rang the embassy and was told that there would be no problem and that the gardai would be there,” Costello said.
But when she and Adam turned up at the embassy on the appointed day, the demonstrators were far more in evidence than any police security.
“There were about 300 demonstrators and I only saw one garda — and he was eating an ice cream,” Costello said.
She described frightening moments as she and Adam walked to the embassy door. The shouting and chanting was bad enough, but then Costello and her son were subjected to something more than verbal abuse.
“A cup of coffee was thrown at me,” Costello said.
She prefers to think that it was aimed solely at her and not her son.
“It was horrible, I was scared,” she said.
The embassy building provided physical security but only cold comfort. Mother and son sat down for a detailed interview with some of the questions from an embassy official being directed at Adam. One of them came as a shock to Costello.
Her son was asked if he had committed a felony or had spent time in prison in the last 20 years. Adam’s reply was simple: “I’m 8.”
“The official said that the question was on the form and had to be answered,” Costello said.
Somewhat ironically, Adam’s lack of a felony conviction and his answering all other questions to the satisfaction of the U.S. authorities now means that he should secure a green card well ahead of his mother. Costello’s could take another 18 months.
But she is cleared in the meantime for residence and employment in the U.S., and with that the Dallmers are settling down to a hard-won normalcy.
“We’re happy and settled in and we can also travel back and forth between the U.S. and Ireland. Everything turned out well, thank God,” Costello said.
Added Dallmer: “Life is good and we really enjoyed Easter. It’s great having the kids to greet me when I get home from work.”
He said that he was already working toward the day that his son would become a U.S. citizen.