COLLINSVILLE, Ill. – The You Paid For It Team calls in a U.S. senator to help with a Collinsville mother’s battle with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Kira Ralston was blindsided by the USCIS after receiving a letter telling her she’s not a United States citizen.

Ralston, now 42, was adopted from Belize when she was 19 weeks old. Her parents are from Illinois, where Ralston has lived ever since.

“I’ve been here for 41 years. I went to school, high school, college. I was married and divorced. I have two children. I’ve been paying taxes since I was 16 years old. I have no restrictions … My Social Security card looks like yours. I can vote. I’ve been voting,” she said. “I have a driver’s license, I have the correct Social Security card, I have everything like you and everyone else, but I don’t have this piece of paper.

“This piece of paper is holding me up, not just to getting my passport, but when I go to retire at 65, I won’t be able to collect any of my Social Security until I get that 8×10 piece of paper with the correct seal on it.”

Pricilla O’Bryan, Ralston’s mother, cannot believe it. Ralston’s parents had to jump through a lot of hoops to adopt her and bring her here. They said they did everything they were told to do.

“We had three lawyers, 13 months of hell trying to get her here,” she said. “And we’re still getting the runaround.”

Ralston said the problems started when she tried to get a passport.

“My birth certificate, it’s a state of Illinois, but it says, ‘record of foreign birth,’” she said.

She provided her adoption papers to immigration officials to prove her citizenship. Immigration Services didn’t budge.

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“Then I was instructed that that was the wrong application to fill out and I needed to fill out an N600, which is about $1,200, so I did and that was paid, and it’s been almost a year and I’m still being actively reviewed in the system,” Ralston said. “I feel dehumanized in a way; like I don’t know exactly where I belong.”

FOX 2 reached out to the USCIS, but we didn’t hear back. Undaunted, we contacted Senator Dick Durbin’s office, who then called Immigration Services.

Within weeks, the USCIS removed the obstacles from Ralston’s path so that she could take the citizenship test now instead of having to wait another eight months and spend a thousand dollars.

Ralston took the citizenship test last Thursday and passed. She is just waiting to be sworn in as an official U.S. citizen.

Senator Durbin’s office sent FOX 2 the following statement regarding Ralston’s ordeal: “When constituents turn to my office for help, we reach out to the federal agencies on their behalf to find a solution, whether the issue is veterans benefits, immigration, Social Security or something else. I’m happy to hear this case has reached a positive resolution.”

Ralston believes the hard part is over.

“I can re-register to vote; I can get a passport. I love that you got involved. I should have got in contact with you sooner. Your push, your influence, your great idea of contacting Senator Durbin set everything into play. I wouldn’t have been able to do anything I’ve done as quickly without that.”

So far, Ralston has not been told the date for her swearing in ceremony.