In the baggage claim of DFW Airport’s Terminal A, Atefa Sharifi watches travelers come and go, feeling the minutes drag on.
For the better part of the last decade, the mother of two has worked to welcome her 15-year-old son Saeed to North Texas.
“I was waiting a lot for this moment,” Sharifi said.
Eight years ago, the former U.S. interpreter left Saeed with family in Afghanistan to come to the United States on a Special Immigrant Visa.
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She said U.S. immigration law didn’t recognize Saeed’s Afghan adoption, but she never stopped working to find another way.
Following dozens of calls and emails, the U.S. State Department helped facilitate an extraction.
Now, 41 days and two refugee camps later, with the arrival of flight 2385 from El Paso, mother and son are together again.
“Oh, my goodness,” cried Sharifi as she pulled Saeed into her arms. “You’re a big man, huh? I love you so much.”
“I love you, too,” Saeed said.
Tuesday’s reunion was just the start of Saeed’s life in the States. Next, they’ll work to try and formalize his adoption in the U.S.
But for now, Sharifi said having him here is enough.
“Because I went through so much struggle, so much difficulty, I almost lost hope that he will be here. But today he’s here, and it means the world to me," she said. "I don’t have any other desire. I don’t have any other wish as long as he’s with me here."
Still, it’s not lost on mother or son that others, like Sharifi’s sister and her children, are still trying to escape.
“There was so many people. It was so difficult for us to be there. But for today, we are together,” Saeed said.
And with his stepfather, little sister and mom, he’s finally headed home.