Elena Danaila woke up Saturday and turned to her husband, Neculai.
“Is it true? Are our children really here?” she asked.
Her seven-year dream finally came true. Saturday was the first day the Danaila family spent together since Elena and Neculai had fled religious persecution in Romania in 1990. They left six children behind.
After years of paperwork and immigration loopholes, the family was reunited Friday night at the Boise Municipal Airport.
The family hugged, cried, laughed and cried again as they entered a new world.
Alina, 19; Izabel, 18; Petre, 17; Magdalena, 15; Ana-Maria, 14; and Nicoleta, 13, met their 7-year-old sister Rachel for the first time. She was born after the Danailas came to the United States.
“I couldn’t wait to see my parents,” Alina said. “I couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t believe we were in America.”
Even after a 21-hour flight, the children stayed up until 3:30 a.m. Saturday, talking and getting to know their family again.
They awoke later that morning. Their first meal together consisted of bananas and potato chips.
Neculai, who works for Amalgamated Sugar Co. in Nampa, viewed the reunion as a reward for standing by his Pentecostal faith - beliefs that brought on imprisonment and severe beatings under the former Communist government in Romania.
“I believe the seven years to be a cleansing of our souls. It was a test of our faith,” he said. “We passed the test.”
Elena said co-workers at Micron Electronics Inc., where she works as a janitor, have been asking every day when her children were coming.
“Twenty days, three days - it took forever,” she said. “I still don’t believe it is true.”
In 1990, the Danailas came to the United States to seek political asylum. The children were split up to live with aunts and uncles; some lived in other cities. About two years ago, they all went to live with their grandparents.
After years of trying, the Danailas traveled to Chicago early last year and were granted political asylum. That allowed them to send for their children.
Pat Lindholm, a staff assistant in Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig’s office, played a major role in helping push paperwork to make the Danailas’ dream come true.