Two-thirds through – now what?

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I was glancing around my blog and noticed I had written a post at the end of 2016 talking about 10 Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2017, and thought, how close have I come or how far have I strayed from those things? Rather than wait til the end of the year, I thought I’d track my progress and see where things are as we reach the last third of 2017.

1) The End of a Long Fucking Chapter. As you saw in yesterday’s post, we have made it official. Paperwork is on it’s way to release the last 4 frozen embryos to medical research, and our full focus is on our domestic adoption. We are still very nervous after the 2 year wait with Ethiopia ended with the program closing and a five-digit financial loss for us because of that, but are doing our best to hope for the best.

2) Celebrating Five Years in Business. Done! Now in my sixth year, I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with my business name, as I’ve never felt a big connection to Imprint PDX and the honest truth is, people know me by my name – Aimee – in the community, not by my sole proprietorship company name. So with that, this year I changed my business website to simply my name, and just recently decided that at the end of the year, I will drop Imprint PDX completely and my company will simply be ME – Aimee Levens Consulting, covering my recruiting and career services and also encompassing the fact that the longer I’m in business, the more I’ve been asked by companies outside of PDX to help them with their needs (not to mention my numerous out-of-town (and sometimes international) coaching clients. Yay!

3) The Citizenship Application Process Begins for my Husband! Just two months until we can send in Dan’s paperwork to apply for naturalization. Problem is, it’s been 10 months since we sent in his paperwork to remove his conditions from his green card (you get your first green card as “conditional” which lasts for 2 years, then you apply to have those conditions removed to make it long term, supplying further proof that you are indeed here in the US legitimately – work/marriage/etc.), and looking at the USCIS website this week, they are still 14 months behind in processing these particular applications. So with that, they can’t process his citizenship paperwork until they’ve finished the green card status update/conditions removal. What’s the problem with this beyond the obvious? The clusterfuck that air travel would be because his green card shows as expired. Technically we have the paperwork acknowledging the process and showing that they extended it for ONE year, but come October, what the fuck are we going to do if that extension expires? Here’s the deal, though: Homeland Security is dealing with #45 bullshit executive order requiring interviews for simple employment visa adjustments for 100K+ visa holders, and with that, “A DHS official…said the new policy may be expanded to include other populations, such as students and green-card holders, that do not currently require interviews to change status. The increase could expand the number of interviews conducted to more than a million a year…Greg Chen, director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said that kind of expansion would be “disastrous for the economy and the country.” The agency simply doesn’t have the infrastructure or personnel to interview one million people each year, and overnight American businesses and families would experience enormous delays for every kind of immigration visa or green cards.” So needless to say we are very, very nervous as to what that will mean. Will they process his extension so he can apply for citizenship? Will they process it in time so he doesn’t lose his eligibility to work in the US (or extend it another year because of their internal delays)? Or, worst case, will he lose his eligibility to work and therefore be unable to work and we lose both his income and our healthcare benefits, not to mention his great new promotion? I’m trying not to vomit as I write this. Let’s hope things work themselves out. When he came to this country, we were thrilled at the LACK of bureaucracy we were dealing with and how much quicker it took for processing because of President Obama’s actions to improve and streamline processes.

4) Celebrating Six Years Since We Connected + Three Years Since We Got Hitched!
The best thing about our years together are that we are stronger as a couple. I love this man more each day and am so grateful for our journey and where we are headed.

5) Discovering My Strength. ‘Nuff said, right? Who knew when I wrote the post in December that the worst wasn’t over yet. I am grateful for my PT who has shown so much empathy while helping me get stronger and reminded me that in the race, I need to be the tortoise, not the hare.

6) Finding New Ways to Contribute in my Community. Sadly, because of my health issues (not to mention a ridiculously busy first half of the year for my business – a good thing but prohibitive with community work), I’ve been extremely limited in my ability to volunteer as I used to. Because of this, I have strengthened my voice in the professional community, calling out issues on LinkedIn with articles and comments to get people thinking, encourage accountability, and call out hateful, bigoted behavior. As a woman in tech and other white-male-dominated industries, I’ve witnessed discrimination for years, both blatant and subtle, first-hand and my biggest focus professionally has been in finding ways to articulate problems with executives that I consult with, along with proposing ways for them to consider changing their path. It doesn’t always work, but I’ve always believed that if I at least put it out there, there’s a chance someone might listen – even if the change doesn’t happen right away. The best part? The notes I get from others thanking me – today for example, I got a note from a tech colleague in my network saying “I love to see you publicly calling bullshit on LinkedIn articles.” Yay!

7) Learning a new skill. Or two. Heck yeah ! This year we focused on our homesteading skills, harvesting honey for the first time, expanding our hive, and following Dan’s lead in making my very own batch of bacon. Next up, my husband is going to teach me how to propagate herbs and other plants in our garden – something he is great at but that I have yet to learn.

8) Taking a solo trip. Not yet – I’d love to, but financially it’s low priority. Hopefully this winter, we’ll see… I could definitely use it.

9) Getting the mortgage down to 5 digits. Done! Totally awesome, and it’s also allowed us to lock in a HELOC at 2.99% to use when we find our perfect piece of dirt to build on in 2018. Noice!

10) Build More Things. We built the duck coop and run – woo hoo!!!! Big appreciation for repurposed 2×4’s and 4×4’s, donated galvanized steel for the roof, 36 cent stick on tile, hardware cloth, and the champion staplegun that made it happen 🙂 In addition to that, we built a new kitchen table AND a new coffee table, both from repurposed materials and both that are so much more functional and lovely than their predecessors!

With this, I’m happy that most of these goals have been achieved, and know what I have to focus on. Me.

What a concept!

  One thought on “Two-thirds through – now what?

  1. August 28, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    Enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for educating us on green-card application process. It’s something I don’t know a lot about and I appreciate you sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 28, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      Yeah and that’s just a very small portion of the process. We first had to get him a fiance visa, then a work authorization visa, then came the conditional green card – all of those which processed fairly quickly- so to now have such a delay is really nerve-racking!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Betty
    August 30, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Congrats on releasing your embryos and your business anniversary and all the rest!!
    Can your husband apply for citizenship before his greencard is made permanent? I’m fuzzy on that since I’ve read it can be three years either conditional or permanent after marriage to a US citizen. My husband waited three years for his green card to become permanent (3 years ago) but we haven’t planned to apply for citizenship yet.

    Like

    • Betty
      August 30, 2017 at 8:11 am

      I forgot to add, he was way down on the list and then suddenly it moved quickly and it was permanent. I know there are different lists of course.

      Like

      • August 30, 2017 at 8:32 am

        Yeah the entire first part was phenomenally quick back in 2014 – his fiance visa was approved within 12 weeks, he got his employment authorization a few months, and his first green card just a few months after that. But with all the stuff the administration is doing and the lack of staffing to deal with all these new ridiculous executive orders, we’re not nearly as confident as we used to be. I will say though I have a friend whose husband was coming here from Central America and got treated so horribly and waited so much longer – he was actually strip-searched when he went to his appointment and asked to explain all of his tattoos as they made assumptions that they were gang tattoos (my husband is also covered in tattoos and our entire appointment lasted maybe three minutes). So yeah who knows…

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        • Betty
          August 30, 2017 at 8:34 am

          My husband was held four hours and questioned. He is still stopped and searched several times a week in nyc. We’re considering citizenship in case it helps… But his citizenship in India would make adopting there easier :/

          Like

        • August 30, 2017 at 8:41 am

          Geez – yeah my husband definitely learned about white privilege during this process. I have another friend who’s husband is from Saudi Arabia and he definitely went through (and still goes through) the ringer on a regular basis. When Dan gets his citizenship here he doesn’t give it up in Australia – does India allow dual citizenship as well? Yes definitely gives priority in India adoptions, when Ethiopia closed our agency, who’d just signed up with India since they are/will be a Hague country, and we were only eligible for older children both because of being American and because we’re “too old” so we don’t meet the parameters of combined age. The latter always baffles me that somehow at 43 I’m no longer worthy of being able to adopt a baby or toddler.

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        • Betty
          August 30, 2017 at 8:47 am

          India doesn’t allow dual citizenship. The adoption guidelines make me sad. India is the country I have my heart set on if we adopt though, since he’s from there.

          Like

        • August 30, 2017 at 8:57 am

          Ugh that sucks. Yeah we only had a couple of countries in all we could choose from (unless we wanted a child with severe disabilities which we don’t feel qualified to take on) back in 2014 when we first started looking, based on age, number of years married, my previous marriage, and religion. If you do decide to look into adoption further, the agency that we are going through for domestic also works with India – https://ifservices.org/india/ – the married couple who runs it will do free informational calls and they are SOOOOO nice. Tell them Aimee & Dan sent you if you do 🙂

          Like

        • Betty
          August 30, 2017 at 9:05 am

          Oooh thank you! I also don’t feel qualified to take on severe disabilities, and I have a family member who is on her third China adoption, all children with disabilities, some quite severe. I get a lot of exposure to her adoption community and I get this strong vibe that not accepting these children with severe disabilities is considered selfish, and it makes me afraid to even discuss adoption, though we’re not set on that path anyway. We won’t adopt unless we know we 100% want to. We didn’t always plan on it like you did so I want it to be a choice, if we do it, not a last resort.

          Like

        • August 30, 2017 at 9:17 am

          I don’t think it’s selfish at all and in fact I think it’s very unselfish because you know what you are and are not capable of. My husband managed a home for people with severe developmental disabilities for 16 years and he has no desire to do that at home as well. There’s definitely a vibe out there that we should just take whatever we can get as infertile people, which is bullshit. I think we’ve been through enough.

          Liked by 1 person

    • August 30, 2017 at 8:29 am

      You can technically send your application and money in for citizenship after those first three years following Green Card approval, but they won’t finish *processing* that application until the conditional status is removed from the green card. I wish they would just send a sticker or something for him to put on his actual green card that says his applications in progress so he doesn’t have to show all that USCIS paperwork if we need to travel (we just simply have not left the country, or even gone to an airport or even gone to an airport, since the expiration of the physical green card). With all that’s going on in the world my husband just wants to be able to vote, since right now he cannot vote here nor of course in his native country of Australia since he is no longer a resident.

      Like

      • Betty
        August 30, 2017 at 8:31 am

        I’m surprised they won’t send him a new temp green card!

        Like

        • August 30, 2017 at 8:34 am

          They just send a letter saying “this paperwork shows as your one year extension while this is processing” – problem is, that one year is up in October…so I’ll be getting on the phone next month, naturally. 😦

          Like

        • Betty
          August 30, 2017 at 8:35 am

          Omg that’s nuts. My husband got a new card. Walking around with an expired card is terrifying.

          Like

        • August 30, 2017 at 8:43 am

          He got a new card after his conditional one was expired and while he was still waiting for the permanent one to be approved? If that’s the case then I’m calling them now!

          Like

        • Betty
          August 30, 2017 at 8:48 am

          He did get a new conditional card! He carried both for some time out of paranoia, even. It said permanent resident with a two year expiration.

          Like

        • August 30, 2017 at 8:59 am

          Thank you! Dang I’m glad I blogged about this and connected with you!!!! I’m going to call them today and see what can be done 🙂 I don’t let Dan carry any of that around, he misplaces stuff too much! 🙂

          Like

        • Betty
          August 30, 2017 at 9:12 am

          I really hope this works out. I just texted him to confirm he did have two temp cards, they renewed after his employer sent confirmation of employment, but he was on an h1b visa so that might not be applicable.

          Like

        • August 30, 2017 at 9:15 am

          Ah that might be the case… I bet you’re so relieved that he has his permanent residency now, as a tech recruiter I can’t even talk to prospective H-1B folks anymore because they’re so ridiculously hard to get and take so long with the new Lottery system!

          Like

  3. Betty
    August 30, 2017 at 9:19 am

    He’s had the green card for six years total now but until it was permanent he was convinced he’d be deported at any time. But he was most insanely stressed when he worked on a visa. He came here on an L1 visa though, planning to move back after three months. So glad he didn’t!!

    Like

    • August 30, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Ah yeah I’d be paranoid as well!! We are more standard since he came here to marry me so the K-1 fiance visa was a lot less of a pain in the arse than what your husband went through! I will say after doing his paperwork for him, the adoption paperwork for both failed Ethiopia and current domestic were a piece of cake 🙂

      Like

      • Betty
        August 30, 2017 at 9:45 am

        Yeah I was just thinking you must be able to fill out legal paperwork on your sleep after all this.

        Liked by 1 person

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