Russian twins bring holiday joy to couple

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The 2005 holiday season will always be a special time for two young Russians who tasted their first turkey and gravy and peach cobbler on Thanksgiving and who will celebrate their first Christmas as Americans.

But these two youngsters, 13-month-old twins, will have a bigger reason to celebrate as this season marks the beginning of life as the adopted sons of LeAnn and Curtis Rigney of Alabaster.

The Rigneys adopted Conner and Cole on their first birthday, Oct. 18, from an orphanage in the Volga region of Russia, southeast of Moscow.

&8220;A lot of people tell us these little boys don’t know how lucky they are. We’re the lucky ones, not them. We have the opportunity to raise them and love them,&8221; the Rigneys said.

Curtis Rigney is a captain in the Alabaster Police Department, where he has been employed for 15 years. And LeAnn serves a career resource specialist with the Shelby County Board of Education, where she has been employed for 12 years.

The Rigneys had been through two years of the infertility process which they described as filled with &8220;highs and lows,&8221; when Curtis ran into a friend of his in the Alabaster Fire and Rescue Service.

Dan Hornkohl and his wife, Tracy, were adopting a Russian little girl … their second adoption.

Curtis had helped Hornkohl with the fingerprinting process for background checks in connection with the adoption. And as he and Hornkohl talked, Curtis said he became fascinated.

That was when he told LeAnn.

According to the Rigneys, who will be married five years this March, the entire adoption process lasted 18 months.

While the orphanage in Russia has no name, the Rigneys said they used a firm called European Adoption Consultants based in Ohio.

And unlike the infertility process, LeAnn noted, &8220;This adoption process has been nothing but a high.&8221;

LeAnn said the agency calls and tells you they have babies, and you spend a week there. She said they got to see the boys for the first time and &8220;You pretty much say yes or no.&8221;

Curtis said, &8220;When they put those babies in our arms, we believed they were ours.&8221;

Curtis and LeAnn first traveled to Russian during August. They returned this past October for about 22 days during which there was a 10-day appeal period for the adoption process.

On Oct. 18, the Rigneys picked up their sons on their first birthday and were back with them in the United States on Oct. 22.

Curtis said of his young sons, &8220;They have just been unbelievable … two living dolls … loving little babies growing like little weeds.&8221;

Both Curtis and LeAnn agreed they would recommend the adoption process to others.

Curtis said, &8220;It’s the best decision we ever made. It has been an entirely rewarding experience for us.&8221;

LeAnn noted with maternal pride of Conner and Cole, &8220;And they look like us …

blond hair, big blue eyes.&8221;

Curtis said the two of them have also enjoyed tremendous support from both their families.

The Rigneys said they never thought about Conner and Cole being lucky.

Instead, &8220;They’re filling a void in our hearts,&8221; they said.

The Rigneys make their home in the Grande View subdivision of Alabaster.

Curtis has a 16-year-old son, Ryan Rigney, from a pervious marriage who attends Oak Mountain High School