ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An Abilene family separated between the Key City and the Netherlands are one step closer to a brief reunion.
“I try to at least pretend I’m happy for our son, because I don’t want him to feel all of this,” Bente Riehn says.
After receiving advice to not fly to her native country the Netherlands because of concerns surrounding the pandemic, Bente Riehn unintentionally overstayed her 90-day visa.
Weeks later she was able to fly to the Netherlands with her 18-month-old son, but when they tried to return to the Untied States she ran into some legal trouble.
Despite all of her paperwork being in order, she has been banned from returning to the U.S. for 3 years for overstaying her Visa.
In addition to Riehn being separated from her husband and stepson for months, she is also 6-months pregnant.
“The thought of having to have our daughter here without my husband, that’s really scary for me. I just want him to be there and I want him to see our daughter be born,” said Bente Riehn.
Riehn says when she first got back to the Netherlands she did not have a solidified living situation. After hearing about her struggles, one family she knew from her childhood that she used to babysit for reached out to help.
“I told them, ‘Well you are aware that I’m very pregnant and I have Lake, our son, and maybe our daughter will be born here,’ and they just took us in,” she said.
In an effort to expedite the process of getting the 3-year ban waived, the Riehn family has been in contact with Representative Jodey Arrington and his team.
“We treat every constituent that calls with a problem as if it were our brother, or sister, or son and daughter, or our family member. We work with that passion and we work with that level of commitment to try to resolve it for them as best we can,” said Rep. Jodey Arrington.
After months of being separated, Bente’s husband Jonathan is flying to the Netherlands early next week to visit for a short period of time.
“We’re very thankful, but also I’m just amazed by the goodness of people,” said Bente Riehn.