The Mother's Day We Never Thought We'd See

After eight years... after countless tears... after missing our wedding and the births of our children, my mother-in-law flew into Atlanta on Mother's Day. It's been a long time coming, and it was a special joy to greet her at the airport and welcome her to our home.

In March, my in-laws applied again for their visas to come visit us. We'd taken a break for several years, but one of Billy's goals after he became a citizen, was to try again.

So this time we tried a process where four U.S. citizens (3 by birth and 1 naturalized) requested that my suegros be granted a visa to visit us. My mother-in-law was approved, and my father-in-law was denied.

This bittersweet success has been met with the kind of frustrated sorrow and unbridled joy you might expect from a split verdict. Of course everyone wonders why. That will be a question for the ages, I suppose.

My father-in-law will likely not apply again. Three denials without clear explanation or any path to change the result? Yeah, I think we're done.

What annoys me the most? His best option is actually to become a Legal Permanent Resident of the U.S. You know... except he doesn't want to be a resident of this country. He doesn't want to live here. He just wants to visit his grandkids.

But his children can choose to apply for him to be issued a green card, and his odds are pretty favorable that it will be approved. Of course, then we run into issues like the expense and the fact that he cannot be outside of the U.S. for more than six months without government approval. Because... you know, technically he would "live" here.

And so our inadequate and broken immigration system keeps on turning. I tell these stories because I continue to hope that we can do better. And I pray for reform. Because our family's minor inconveniences are only part of a bigger pattern of illogical systems that divide families and often don't make sense for what's best for the country.

But while our hearts still hurt, we will also celebrate this Mother's Day with my mother-in-law. It is truly a gift we never really let our hearts hope for. And I can only hope that I will make her first visit to my home as awkward as I made my first visit to her home.


  1. julie6:18 AM

    congratulations on the visa approval!! at least now it's good for 10 years right? Honestly, the people who do get approved, I never understand it, it seems like there's no rhyme or reason to it

  2. Thank you! I agree. There seems to be very little definable standard about who will be approved and who will not.

  3. Katie4:53 PM

    Sorry it had to be such a bittersweet celebration, but it sounds like you will make the most of the time with your mother-in-law. (And how ridiculous is it that a green card looks like the best option for your father-in-law?) Bueno... Enjoy the visit! Billy looks so happy in that picture.

  4. Nadia (la esposa de Byron)12:34 PM

    Wow! Congratulations, Sarah! Those are wonderful news! I know how hard it is not to see your parents for a long time. I'm so happy for you!

  5. Thank you, Katie. We will certainly enjoy the time! :)

  6. Thank you, Nadia! We are over the moon! :)

  7. Sorry to hear about your father-in-law being denied, but I am rejoicing with you about your mother-in-law being approved! I am sure you will have a wonderful visit together!


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