However, in the end, life in the United States robbed the 42-year-old Glaswegian of her children, and left her sons and daughters facing the prospect of growing up in the American care system.
Stirling was jailed and deported from the US, leaving her four children at imminent risk of being placed into a care home or fostered. She is now fighting for the family to be reunited.
It all began 20 months ago – the last time Stirling saw her eight-year-old twins Tyreece and Molly, Lavante, nine, and Louise, 12 – when she left them with a friend, expecting to be home in half an hour.
Instead, she was arrested by US immigration officials, driven seven hours from her home in Brunswick, Missouri, and held in various jails across the state for months. She was eventually flown home to Scotland with only the clothes she was wearing.
Her children were left facing life in care when the American father of her children, Richard Agee, was arrested and charged with first-degree assault for an alleged brutal attack on his current girlfriend which left her in coma for four days with a punctured lung and kidney.
He could face a five-year prison sentence, while Stirling, who was also physically abused during their 13-year relationship, faces the heartbreaking possibility that unless she can bring her children back to Scotland they will be placed into US foster care and probably split up.
According to Prisoners Abroad, the campaign group which fights for British citizens in jail overseas, the case is a prime example of the "draconian" US deportation laws which have split up other families from the UK.
Stirling emigrated in 1992 to wed her US sailor boyfriend, but when the marriage broke down five years later she went on to begin a relationship with Agee.
"I had never met anyone like him," she said. "He was very charming, very polite and paid a lot of attention to me. He was very funny, very witty, opened car doors for me – an absolute gentleman."
However, within six months, the mask began to slip as Agee, a Sunday school teacher and deacon at the family's local Baptist church, began "pushing and slapping" Stirling.
Over the years the violence escalated and she suffered broken ribs, head trauma and beatings to her stomach while pregnant.
It was only after Agee repeatedly kicked Stirling in the back during an attack in October 2008 that she reported him to the police – triggering a chain of events that would prove disastrous for the Scot.
Angry following Agee's arrest, his stepdaughter from a previous relationship, Monyette, retaliated by accusing Stirling of fraud.
Monyette, who babysat the children once a month while Stirling attended out-of-town school meetings, claimed she had forged her signature to pocket state childcare cheques totalling around $300 (£190).
Stirling was arrested and charged with fraud – a federal offence – and spent the next seven months in jail awaiting trial, while Agee, against whom she had never pressed charges, walked free.
Although she denies fraud, Stirling eventually pled guilty to avoid prison. In 2010, her case came under the spotlight of US immigration officials.
"I was crying and I begged them to let me go home to see the kids," said Stirling. "I'd left them with a friend because I thought I would only be gone half an hour, but I never saw them again after that."
Stirling, who had been volunteering at a workshop for physically and mentally handicapped adults prior to her detention, spent a total of 12 months on remand sharing cells with murderers and child killers before she was finally deported to Edinburgh in December wearing nothing more than a prison jumper and a skirt so worn it was "held up by string".
Matthew Pinches, the senior case worker at Prisoners Abroad who has been handling Stirling's case, told the Sunday Herald it was "one of the most extreme" he had encountered.
He said: "Since 9-11, the policy that the US has on deportation of foreign nationals who have been convicted of imprisonable offences has become more and more draconian. They don't seem to have any kind of leeway to make decisions based on case-by-case situations.
"They have no reluctance at all to separate a mother from her family, despite the fact that a woman may have spent nearly her entire life in America, gone to school there, gone to university there, married an American citizen, had children, and then is convicted of what can be a very minor offence.
"The charge could be for a small possession of marijuana, driving under the influence, something like that, which doesn't necessarily end up with a big prison sentence and in some cases doesn't involve a sentence at all – the US authorities will actively seek them out as a foreign national who has committed an offence on their territory and deport them.
"They take no regard of the fact that children may be growing up without one of their parents.
"At the end of the day it's not in the US authorities' interests to have children being brought up in care."
Since her return, Stirling, who is destitute, has been forced to live in accommodation provided by Glasgow Women's Aid while desperately battling to bring her children – who are currently living with Agee while he awaits trial on the assault charge – to Scotland.
Agee, 60, has given written permission for the children to be reunited with their mother in Scotland, but without £5000 to cover the cost of buying new British passports for them as well as airfares for all four youngsters and at least one adult to escort them from America, it's unlikely Stirling will see them again.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has told her that although the children are joint British/American nationals, it is "unable to use public funds to pay for flights".
Health problems have prevented her from working since she returned and both her parents are surviving on disability allowance following severe illnesses.
Stirling said: "I want people to realise what they're up against in the US. You can have children there and you can establish your life, but unless you're a citizen of that country you have no protection.
"A permanent resident card means nothing. You can be taken away from your home, your life, your job, your children and your family.
"And you will be deported with the clothes on your back – you lose everything. The public need to know that."