A photo of the Stephens family that hangs in their home. (July 16, 2012/FOX Carolina)
SIMPSONVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -
An Upstate family said they started a battle to keep their family together more than 10 years ago and they're still fighting to keep their son.
Javier Stephens, 17, said his biological parents brought him to the country illegally, then abandoned him. He was just 4 years old when Brenda and Thomas Stephens became his foster parents, then three years later, they adopted him.
But because of his immigration status, now he could be deported.
"The friends I have here, I've fallen in love with all of them and my brothers too," Javier Stephens said. "That would be very painful, leaving my family."
It's painful because Brenda Stephens said she doesn't want to lose her son over botched paperwork.
"He would be immersed into a community where he's never been, doesn't know the languages, the culture," Brenda Stephens said.
She said workers at the immigration office told her administrators with the Department of Social Services made a mistake.
"They told us that DSS did not process him correctly that they should have gotten his green card and gotten his citizenship before we adopted him," Brenda Stephens said.
They said for several years they've tried to get it straightened out.
"We want to obey the laws, we want to do this the right way," Brenda Stephens said.
On Monday, the Stephens told FOX Carolina they may soon have to go to Juarez, Mexico for a national visa board appointment, but they're asking DSS and the Governor's office to step in.
"To help us to maybe find a resolution to this without him having to risk his life," Brenda Stephens said.
The Stephens have Javier's birth certificate and other documents, but Thomas Stephens said during the process he learned the Mexican Government doesn't recognize American adoptions.
"Every time we go through an incident, it seems like we hit a roadblock and we have to do something in Mexico with a lawyer or a judge," Thomas Stephens said.
He said those in Mexico said the family must go through the adoption process again, in their country. He said it's been an emotional and financial burden.
"We've used our own time, own money, own sweat and tears," Thomas Stephens said.
But he said he would do it all over again for his family and for Javier.
"Javier is just as much a son as any of my other children."
FOX Carolina talked to a spokesperson with DSS who said the agency is looking into the case, but she couldn't comment any further.
Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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