A United States Army veteran may soon be forced to move his entire family to South Korea next year over the immigration status of his adopted daughter.
Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Schreiber said that he and his wife, Soo Jin, are prepared to leave the U.S. if their daughter Hyebin is not allowed to stay.
Hyebin, who was previously covered in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is facing deportation next year after her application to become an American was rejected by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Patrick and Soo Jin decided to adopt their Korean-immigrant niece as their own daughter back in 2013. The couple, both of Korean descent, had earlier hosted then 15-year-old Hyebin in Kansas back in 2012 due to some family problems in Korea.
Soo Jin, sister of the Hyebin’s biological father, said that she served as her mother figure for the teen when she was still a baby.
While the Schreibers soon discussed adoption, they were forced to put it on hold as Patrick was called for military duty in Afghanistan in 2013. They decided to pursue the process the following year upon his return.
Kansas Court would eventually grant Hyebin’s adoption in 2014 at the age of 17. She received a valid birth certificate from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment a month after the adoption was made official.
However, despite being recognized by the state of Kansas and Department of Defense as Schreiber’s legal daughter, Hyebin still failed to secure a U.S. citizenship due to a technicality. According to a federal statute, children brought into the U.S. may be allowed access to citizenship if they are adopted before age 16.
Hyebin’s adoption should have been filed earlier had Patrick decided to ditch his Afghanistan duty in 2013.
“I should have put my family ahead of the Army,” said Patrick Schreiber.
Lawyer Rekha Sharma-Crawford, who represents the Schreibers on a pro bono basis, stressed how the situation is unfair for the family.
“Of all the immigration cases our firm takes on, this one makes me the angriest. Here we have a decorated, recently retired military officer whose family has grown closer and stronger even during Lt. Col. Schreiber’s long tours of duty as he led our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Sharma-Crawford was quoted as saying.
“He received orders to return to Afghanistan, once again, putting his life on the line for his country. He followed orders to report to the Middle East before filing the adoption, believing it could be finalized upon his return. But by the time he did, his daughter had turned 17, which has created this fiasco for his family. In hindsight, had he known, Lt. Col. Schreiber would have adopted Hyebin at 15.”
The lawyer has since filed Hyebin’s case with the Federal District Court of Kansas, where it is currently pending.
Feature Image via Patrick Schreiber