Friday, December 25, 2009

How do you prepare for a child? (Part 2)

Wow. That's all I can say. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful we are to our friends and family. They say it takes a village to raise a child...well I think it takes a village to help a couple prepare for a child.

On December 10, the folks at my office threw us a party. Oh what fun!

Below are a few pictures from this party. A bunch of the folks went in together and got my carseat. They had my sister-in-law steal my keys and they strapped it in the car. It was so weird seeing that little seat back there.

On Saturday, December 12, Jace and I drove to North Louisiana to do our Christmas parties with my family. It was so great to see everyone again. It seems like it had been forever since we went up there.

While we were there, they did a party for our little guy as well.

Below is a picture of me and my grandmother, Mama Genny

Me and Jace's grandmother, Abbah.

Our little guy's grandmothers, Meme and Nan.

My sisters, Mitzi and Joani.

It was so nice to have my nephew, Mitch, at the party. He helped open the gifts! Isn't he just the cutest!

All of my other helpers: My neices Alyssa and Ana and my sis-in-law, Tricia.

We got our second carseat at this party! Yay! So now we can each have one and we don't have to bother with transferring the seat from the car to the truck.

The parties were so much fun! Our little guy is going to be so spoiled.

Stay tuned...I know it's hard to believe, but there is one more party to post about. Part 3 coming soon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Can I eat an entire bag of powdered donuts, all by myself?

So, I know this may seem like a strange question to ask. I love powdered donuts, and hamburgers, and fried chicken, and well you get the picture. My love for food does not revolve around vegetables. They are good, but they are no match for a thick slice of cheesecake.

They say that you should not "live to eat" but rather you should "eat to live." What? I like food. I live in South Louisiana where food is a part of the culture. Can you imagine having a family get together that is not centered entirely on food? And on top of being born and raised in Louisiana, I was also born and raised Baptist! Oh there is no hope for me (or my waistline for that matter). Is there any other religion in this world that openly jokes about all the church members being total gluttons? I won't get on that soapbox for now, but really. You get the picture. No hope.

And on top of all of that, it's Christmastime. What do you do during the holiday season…eat, and eat, and then eat some more. It's all so yummy, but man, that's a lot of food!

Lots of people have commented on my running. They say "I can't do it" or "running is too hard." I say "you're wrong!" Anyone can do this! And there are lots of benefits to running…and it's not just so you can eat whatever you want.

I was reading one of my favorite columns in one of my favorite magazines Runners World, called The Newbie Chronicles. It's basically a column written by a guy who is fairly new to running. The author, Marc Parent, is hilarious. You need to go online and check out some of his past articles. I read this month's edition titled "Unexpected Upsides" where he talks about all the benefits of being a runner.

In the end he has this amazing quote, and I just have to share it with you…

"When you sleep, you snore. When you run, you dream."

It's so true. When I'm out on one of my long runs, I have this time to myself. I'm free to think, plan, create to-do lists, and dream.

Below is an excerpt from this article…this is exactly what I'm thinking when I run…

"If I keep this up, I'll never grow old! I'll do a marathon by the spring! I'll never get sick! If I keep going, I'll flush my toxins and my sloth and my temptations and my bad habits! Terrible things will never happen to me! If they do, I'll have the stamina to crush them. If I keep this up, I'll grow better looking with age! I'll be the smartest person in the room! I'll be admired and never envied, respected and never feared, loved and never pitied. If I keep this up I can have hamburgers! Hamburgers!! I can eat chicken with the skin on and fried bread with powdered sugar and sprinkles and extra nuts and chocolate sauce! If keep this up I'll never need glasses or crowns or joint replacements. I won't need surgery of any kind – I'll rewire my DNA and nullify every genetic deficiency! If I keep it going, I can have it all! I already do! If I can keep running and never stop, I'll live forever…"

Note to the Pourciau Family: I'm hoping you read this one! I'm expecting to hear about it every time you stop off at The Hole on Saturday mornings. I'm running just so I can have my two chocolate donuts and my chocolate milk with you on Saturdays!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

How do you prepare for a child? (Part 1)

Well, Jace and I have been asking ourselves this one question a lot over the past few do you prepare for a child? There are lots of books, magazine articles, friends and family with loads of advice, but at the end of the day, its just us, and we have to do our best to be as ready as we can. Everyone keeps telling us not to worry, that no one is ever really ready when they bring home a child. I'm trusting that last part is true. As for the books and magazines, who has time? And all my family and friends, I'm sort of sad to admit it, but I forget a lot of the things you said. Don't be offended if I don't follow any of your advice (I probably just forgot...honest...go read some of my earlier blogs).

We have been working hard over the past few weeks getting the house ready for a child (I'm trying not to say much about him...but it's just so hard....I'll give you this, he's going to be home by Spring, and he's about 18 months old now).

Over the past few weeks, we have cleaned out almost every room in the house...this is my favorite! (Thanks Meme and Big Al for the bedding!!)

We've also had lots of help preparing for our new little addition. We had our first baby/toddler shower on December 5 in Walker, Louisiana, at Jace's cousin's house. Below are a few pictures from this wonderful party.

Cute dishes from the sweet. And the quilt was made espeically for our little man by his Aunt Carla (or Carly as he will call her...I'm not certain on that spelling, so feel free to correct me).

The Baby Jogger. Oh yes...I don't have to give up my running thanks to the best in-laws on the planet.

Both of our parents decided to give us used gifts at the shower....Jace's parents passed down a cute pair of rubber boots, and my parents passed down a handmade blanket.

The invitation for the party asked the guests to sign their favorite childrens book. What a wonderful idea! I got lots of books!

Unfortunately, I don't remember who made the cake (if someone else remembers, leave a comment...give a shoutout!). It was so cute! And VERY tasty!

The Hostesses! Katie (with Katherine), Stephanie, and Tricia.

One of our little guys Great Grandmothers, Abbah.

The Grandmothers...Meme (my mom) and Nan (Jace's mom).

My mom and younger sister, Mitzi, drove down from North Louisiana after the snow storm (they left at around 4am to make the party). I have a great family!

I thought the party was loads of fun. Katherine had such a great time, she had to take a nap in the middle to keep up with all of us! Pretty soon she's going to have to share Nan!

So you will notice that I named this post "Part 1." There will be more pictures from our other showers coming soon.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How difficult is it to get some furniture home?

Ok. So when we purchased the furniture for our little guy's room, we opted to pick it up rather than have the furniture store deliver it to us. This is much more convenient for us…no waiting around for hours waiting for the furniture truck to arrive. No need to take off of work. You get the picture.

They called me last week and told me that our furniture would arrive on Dec. 2. It was raining that day, so I decided to wait a couple of days to bring the furniture home. I drove Jace's truck to work today in order to pick up the furniture.

We bought a twin bed frame (including headboard and footboard), a twin mattress, and a chest of drawers. This should be super easy to get loaded and drive home, or so I thought.

Well the furniture store pick up department closes at 5pm. I normally get off work at 4, and it usually takes me about 35 minutes to make it to the furniture store. Today was not a normal day at work, of course. It never is on the day you need it to be. I left the office at 4:30 and while pulling out of the parking lot, I called the furniture store. I explained that I was running late and they agreed to wait on me. So nice of them.

When I get there, a guy wearing a tie helps load the furniture into my truck. That should have been the first clue that this was not going to work out well. He did an ok job with the tie straps I brought with me. Everything appeared to be secure, well that is until I got on the interstate doing about 70 mph. The chest of drawers fell over on top of the bed frame which was sitting on top of the headboard/footboard. All of these items are in boxes, but I'm still freaking out. What do you do? I'm on the interstate. You can't just pull over on the interstate!? So I drive slowly to the next exit. This may have been more terrifying than being stopped on the side of the interstate. Louisiana drivers do not like a slow driver.

The exit I get off on is Airline Hwy. It is a four lane highway with a median. Not much better than the interstate, but the cars are moving a little slower and it has a good sized shoulder. I get out of the truck and assess the damage. It appears that nothing is broken, just one of the ties came loose and the chest fell over. I stood the chest back up and proceeded to undo the tie so that I could make it more secure. I've never actually had to work one of these fancy tie straps before. Jace always takes care of that for me, but I'm alone, on the side of Airline Hwy, with a truck full of furniture for my little man. I have to get this stuff home safely.

After about 45 minutes of climbing in and out of the truck (in my work clothes, wearing my nice jacket, and it's very cold outside too!!), moving around the furniture, changing out the straps, stopping only long enough to say a few not so nice words at these stupid fancy strap things that hate me, I managed to secure all the furniture once again.

I did not mention this to Jace when I told him the story…and I know he doesn't really read my blog, so I feel pretty safe that he may never find out…but sometime during that 45 minutes of being stuck on the side of the road trying to tie down my furniture, a strange SUV type car happens to "break down" on the other side of Airline Hwy. As if I'm not freaked out enough by the fact that I may have just ruined all my child's new furniture, now I'm going to die, and no one will know where to find me. Ok…so maybe I was being a bit dramatic, but it was so dark, and sort of scary. I hurried as fast as those stupid straps and my frozen hands would allow.

Well obviously I made it home in one piece…I'm writing this blog right?

The furniture survived as well. There is one small scratch on the back of the chest of drawers; no one will ever see that, so all is well.

We are working on getting it all setup tonight, so look for pictures later.

Monday, November 30, 2009

What would I ever do without him?

Ok. So if you have ever read one of my blogs before, you know how much I adore my husband. Well, over the past couple of months, he and I have been able to spend lots of quality time together (plane flight to Russia, week in Russia, plane flight home from Russia, and then a nice long four day weekend). And we managed to spend most of that time together without feeling the need to kill each other (well there was that one incident in the airport, when we had like a 7 hour layover, I was kind of keyed up, and Jace wanted to read his book…hum…other than that though I think we did ok). I know that our days of hanging out together, alone, are numbered. So in honor of this, I'm going to do a blog post just for him. We shall see if he ever reads it (he doesn't really check my blog that often).

I'm not entirely sure what in the world he is doing with me. He's so much smarter, nicer, and funnier than I could ever pretend to be. He really is a great guy! I know sometimes I may not treat him that way (well I forget about his greatness…you know…hehe).

I love spending time with him. He's a lot of fun! And he knows me better than anyone else in the world. He knows what makes me mad (untucking the sheets from the bottom of the bed), what freaks me out (bunnies, birds, and any other scary disease carrying monsters), and he knows what makes me happy (award shows and Christmas tree snack cakes).

I'm not going to consider myself some sort of marriage expert, but I think I've got it pretty good. I mean, we understand that we are not always going to enjoy the same things (I like Grey's Anatomy, he likes Football), and we are ok with that. We also understand that you need to find things you can do together (like train for a half-marathon, or go mountain bike riding). He just really gets me….you know.

Now on to the real reason I'm singing this guy's praises…

Over the Thanksgiving holidays, we decided to stay at our house. This is probably a first. Usually on long weekends and holidays, we are traveling, either to see my parents, or on a trip somewhere. I think this is the first time we have ever spent four consecutive days, with no work, at our own house. Amazing what you can get done in that time. I always wondered how people managed to get so much done around their houses…now I know…you have to actually stay around your house to do them.

This weekend, with my wonderful husband's help, we managed to clean out several rooms in our house. Below is a picture of the new playroom/office. When I was growing up, I had a HUGE bedroom with plenty of space for all my toys (and I shared a room with my younger sister for a while, and the room was plenty big enough for both of us!). The room in our house we have decided to use as our little man's bedroom is rather small. I don't see how he will ever be able to fit all the toys I plan to buy him in just that one room. Because his room is so small, we are going to allow him to take over the formal dining room as well (or any other room in the house he wishes to take over…it's really all his…whatever he wants, right?).

We also cleaned out his bedroom. I will provide more pictures of this later…we are supposed to go pick up the bed later this week. I managed to find time to steam clean his carpets, clean his closet, and wash his clothes, so much fun! Below is a little sneak peak of what we are doing with his room. I wanted the theme to be orange and brown (yes, I’m aware that’s not really a theme, but I don’t care…he’s not a baby, so I don’t want to do a baby theme for him). I found this adorable pillow at Kohl’s last week, and ended up buying the entire comforter set that goes with it. The comforter set is something about Jungle something, but it’s really just a striped comforter with cute accessories….and I like the little brown and orange lion (Note: We are not doing his room in a jungle theme…I just liked this pillow…we are doing brown and orange).

Jace hung some new shelves in my laundry room (if you remember, when my cleaning lady came for the first time, the washing machine walked across the room, taking down one of my shelves…this new setup is so much better than what we used to have!!) I now have room to store all sorts of stuff in there…freeing up closet space for toddler stuff.

We straightened up the guest room (so if someone wants to come visit us, they have a place to sleep). I steam cleaned the rug in the living room, moved all my office stuff to the new office/playroom, and cleaned out a junk drawer in the kitchen (I'm counting this as one of my accomplishments, because we've been in that house for 3 years and I don't think I've ever cleaned out that drawer). Jace even hung a new peg board in the garage and setup a new shelf in there too. Oh, we are well on our way to being about as ready as two people can be to get that little boy! So fun!

So now you see why I'm so happy that Jace picked me. He's been a huge help this weekend and well for the last 6 years too. Such a nice guy. He's a wonderful husband and I think he's going to be a great dad too! I'm so blessed!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Do you ever have deep conversations with your husband?

In my last post, I gave you an example of an e-mail string between me and Jace about running a half marathon. If you have not read that post, check it out!

Today, we had another interesting conversation that had me laughing out loud at work.

So, I'm a huge fan of the Twilight books by Stephanie Meyer. I finished all four books in about a two week time frame. I have since downloaded all 4 books onto my iPod and listen to them all the time. I've finished each book about 10 times. I'm kind of obsessed. I don't really care if you judge me, I spend over two hours in my car each day, I desperately need something to entertain me (and for those who know me…you already know how I feel about Ilyana Kadushin).

The second movie in the Twilight series came out today, New Moon. I was originally supposed to go during my lunch break with two of my coworkers, but they had to back out on me…stupid work projects and work stuff…can't take off two and a half hours in the middle of a work day.

I should say, before you read our conversation below, Jace watched Twilight with me. After watching the movie, I even convinced him to listen to the first book. He hated it. Every minute of it. He makes fun of Edward and Bella. This does not make me happy because I'm Team Edward all the way. After he finished Twilight, he went online and read a summary of the other three books to see how they end. No fun at all.

So here is our conversation today explaining how bad I want to see this movie TODAY…

Emily @ 11:19AM: They are all backing out on me!!! I can't go see this movie by myself! Oh what am I supposed to do!?

Emily @ 11:28AM: Jace….I have to go see this movie today…I just have to. Please please go with me. If you don't, then I'm going by myself. What time do you get off? I want to buy tickets now.

Jace @ 1:09PM (after only reading my first e-mail): I'll take you tonight. Just buy the tickets.

Jace @ 1:09PM (after reading the second e-mail): HAHA just made it to this e-mail.

Emily @ 1:17PM: You didn't answer my question.

Jace @ 1:18PM: Yes I did read the e-mail below.

Jace @ 1:19PM: Get some tickets for Clearview. You can swing by the house and let the dogs out then come meet me at work and we will go see the movie.

Emily @ 1:27PM: No…what time do you get off? Did you answer that one?

Jace @ 1:29PM: 4:30ish

Emily @ 1:30PM: They have one at 5:10 that's not sold out…if we can't make that one, then we have to wait until 10pm.

Jace @ 1:30PM: Ok

Emily @ 1:30PM: And we have to get there early to get good seats…so if you don't get off until 4:30…I guess we will have to do the one at 10.

Jace @ 1:30PM: Go for it.

Jace @ 1:30PM: Ok that works.

Emily @ 1:32PM: I don't understand. What works? Ok to what? Give me a time!!! 5 or 10!! You are killing me!


Emily @ 1:34: Don't get mad…please. Thanks for taking me to see New Moon….you are the greatest husband EVER!

Ok…you may not think this little conversation is that funny…reading back over it now, I think maybe it's not that funny. But at the time, I was cracking up!

We will be attending the 10 o'clock showing tonight at Clearview! HORAY!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Can you please write something on your blog?

Yes. It has been a while since I updated the blog. Not for lack of writing interesting things…I have pages of interesting things that have happened over the past couple of weeks, I just can't put any of that stuff online right now. Oh, but don't worry, one day you will get to read all about our travels and that beautiful little boy.

For now, I'll just give you an update on what life is like at the Raney residence…

On October 31, Jace and I finished our first half marathon. It was great. The weather was perfect, the race course was beautiful and we had loads of fun. We finished in 2:25:15! Ok, so that's not a great pace, but I'm happy we finished.

About 6 hours after finishing the race, we were in the New Orleans airport getting ready to board our flight to Russia! Enough on that topic…(can you tell how difficult it is for me NOT to talk about Russia!?).

We were supposed to do an adventure race the day we got back, but the third member of our team came down with the flu. I can't say I'm all that upset about not doing that race. The fact that we had not slept in about 24 hours (sleeping on airplanes is near impossible) and the sitting in cramped seats on the airplane would have made running that race quite miserable. Maybe next year we can get together and do an adventure race.

So what's next on the racing agenda? Ole Man River. This is another half-marathon in the New Orleans area on December 20.

Jace is doing his best to get out of this one…but I'm not going to let him. See e-mail conversation below…

Jace: Would you like to do this?

"Saturday, December 19th – Gift Distribution
Let's enjoy Christmas with the kids and their
families at Children's Hospital of New Orleans.
Valero Volunteers and families are needed to visit
Children's Hospital of New Orleans on Saturday,
December 19th for distribution of gifts to children
unable to go home for the Christmas Holidays.
This is very heartwarming event for these children
and their families. Employees interested in
attending this visit should plan to meet in the
Lobby at Children Hospital for 9:30 AM. This event
normally ends around noon."

Emily: I think it would be fun. This is the Saturday before the half…so we wouldn't be doing a long run that day.

Jace: You are still running the half on the 20th?

Emily: "We" are planning to run the half on the 20th. J

Jace: I'm supposed to run that thing too?

Emily: Yes, yes you are. You've already done one…this should be cake!

Jace: I told Damon I would never run another one J

Emily: Why? Why would you do that? Why would you never run another one? Was it that bad? I thought it was loads of fun! I can't wait to do it again!

Jace: Ok. I'll run it with you, but man that is just not that fun. 2.5 hours of running. That's insane. I will bring my iPod this time.

Emily: I told you to bring your iPod last time!

So the plan is to run another half marathon on December 20th. This half-marathon actually falls into the training plan for a full marathon in February. I might run this, depending on when we travel again. I'm thinking doing long runs in Russia is going to be near impossible.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Are We Ready?

Well, I guess I'm about as ready as I'm ever going to be. We have our half marathon in exactly 8 days. I say "we" because my wonderful husband has decided to get off the couch and go do some runs with me over the past few weeks. He's so much better at this whole running thing than I am. I have to work a lot harder to get it; it comes so easy for him….but enough griping.

I have been running for a while now, as most of you know (and for those people….I won't name any names, but you know who you are…who think I'm going to give this up as soon as we get the kid…I hope to prove you wrong!! J). People have been telling me that I need to get used to eating/drinking something during my run with some calories in it. I HATE sports drinks….Gatorade, Powerade, etc…they are all just nasty! Ok…well, I've always said "I'm willing to try anything once." So I agreed to let Jace purchase some GU packets for me. I've personally never actually taken/eaten/slurped (not sure of the proper verb for what you do with those things??) one of these things prior to this past weekend.

So, I took my triple berry gu and put it in my ever-so-cool little pocket in the new running pants I got last week. Jace and I decided that since the Andouille Festival was taking place at our normal running spot, that instead of running for distance, we would run for time through our neighborhood. I know, you probably shouldn't do this two weeks before your half marathon, but I figure we should be ok. So, we decided to run without stopping for 2 hours. This is the longest I've ever gone….hence the need for extra calories during the run. Prior to my long runs, I like to eat half a peanut butter sandwich, and I'm usually good for the entire run. This time I decided to take my brilliant husband's advice and pack some gu for later.

An hour into the run, when we took a 1 minute break for water, and for Jace do down one of these gu things, I was still feeling great, so I opted to hold off on the gu. I really hate that you guys can't see us running/stopping because we found this great hiding spot for all of our water and gu wrappers (we have to keep it all clear of where the dogs might potty….don't want some strange dog pottying on my water bottle). Anyway, Jace downed a gu, and we kept running. We went for 45 more minutes and I was beginning to feel a little tired. We made it back to our super secret hiding spot, and I decided to take one of these gu packets.

Where do I start? How do I describe these things? Well, the texture is not good. It's sorta like melted gummy bears, or watered down jello. The flavor wasn't bad. I kinda liked the berry taste, at first. I downed half the packet and did my very best to get the rest of it down, but it just wasn't happening. I drank some water and just gave up.

For the next 15 minutes of our run, I did nothing but burp up berry nastiness. Yuck. This berry burping lasted about 30 minutes. To all my running friends: is this normal? I've learned to expect just about anything during my runs…the body responds to things much differently than I ever could have imagined…so really, am I supposed to burp for 30 minutes? Should I maybe try another flavor? Do you have any suggestions?

Ok, so do you think that I am now prepared to run a half marathon? I'm not really running for a certain time, I just want to finish!!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Could no news be good news?

He's God Given…

How could we say "No"?

To answer the question "could no news really be good news?" the answer is yes.

As many of you are now aware, Jace and I received our referral. We are very excited! For legal reasons, we cannot say anything else about him on the blog. Sorry.

Please check back because I will continue to update you about the happenings in the Raney life, but as for the adoption, this is the last you will hear until he finally comes home.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What do you do for fun?

Well, that's a good question. Recently, as most of you know, I've been doing some running, just for fun. I know, it sounds crazy, and I never thought I could ever be considered a "runner" but I'm having a really good time.

For anyone that has talked to me in the last, um, 6 months, you are probably aware that I'm in the process of training for a half-marathon (Jazz Half Marathon – October 31). I'm really excited about this. The training has been, well, painful, exhausting, and fun. I know…who would have ever thought something so painful could be considered fun. Give it a try and you will know I'm right.

Anyway, so to prepare for this half-marathon, all the books say you should do shorter races prior to the big one, so that you aren't all nerves the day of the race. Jace and I signed up for the Alzheimer's Run/Walk to Remember. I'm glad I did this race, because they are right…you are all nerves. I mean, it's only a 5K, right? I ran more than that four days last week, so why in the world would I be nervous.

So we got up early on Saturday morning to get ready for the race. About the time we were at the door leaving, we noticed that we were wearing the same color shirt. I offered to change clothes (but if you have checked out my earlier blog on running…you will know I have a great deal of love for my blue Nike shirt…we've been through a lot, and I wanted to give the shirt the respect it deserves and wear it to this race). Anyway, we decided we would just go dressed alike. I know, sorta cheesy, but that's just who we are.

So here we are…..Team Raney….prior to the race of course.

I finished the 5K in 32:32, Jace finished in just over 28 minutes (but he didn't train at all last week…so I'm a little upset that he did that well…guys have it so much easier than girls do).

I decided not to take pictures after the race because it was hot and muggy and I was not too pretty, and I only post pictures where I'm sort of nice looking.

Ok. So now on to four weeks of serious half-marathon training. Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Have you ever had a strange dream?

So I have heard of pregnant women having weird dreams about their kids. I didn't realize that parents who got their kids by way of adoption had weird dreams too. The other night I had my first really weird dream about my baby or maybe about the adoption, either way, still weird.

The other night was just like any other night in the Raney house. Get home late, go for a run, eat something (leftovers, sandwich, cereal, etc.). Jace watched some TV and I read some more in Eclipse. Then go to bed. This has been the routine for a while.

I usually don't dream at all. See I'm a pretty light sleeper, and it is my understanding that you have to be in a deep sleep to dream, and well, I don't usually sleep real deep. Maybe that's why I'm so tired all the time, but that's a topic of discussion for another day.

Anyway, this night was different. I dreamed that Jace and I were in Russia (or well I imagine it was Russia, everyone spoke English, but what do you expect…this is my dream and I don't know any Russian, so the characters in my dream certainly wouldn't either). We were about to meet our baby for the first time. I was so very excited. We only had to sign and date one more document before they would bring the baby out.

Well this is where it gets interesting. See I forgot how to sign my name. Yes, in the dream I totally forgot what my name was and how to put that name on paper. Jace was there with me and he kept trying to tell me my name, but it was like my brain had shut down. Jace was trying to be patient, but he was losing his cool in the dream. Jace is usually pretty patient with my stupidity, but not this time. I guess he was about ready to meet the kid too.

As you can probably imagine, in the dream, I was in hysterics. I could not believe this was happening to me. After several failed attempts (yes, they made me sign it over and over again until I could get the "Emily Allen Raney" to look like the signature on my passport), I finally got it.

The next hurdle was the date. How in the world do you mess this up? Jace had just signed above me, and dated it, no problem. Well for some strange reason, I decided that the date should not be written horizontal. It should be written vertical. WHAT? WHY! Why in the world would my brain decide to write the date up and down? Who can even understand that? I can even remember seeing the line for the date, it was horizontal. What would ever possess me to write the date like that? Am I seriously crazy?

I was becoming more upset, and so was Jace, and about that time….I woke up. Not just woke up…I gasped (loudly) and sat straight up. I wish I had just gasped, but no, evidentially in the process of gasping, sitting up, and becoming conscious again, I must have inhaled some dog hair or dust or something. So now I'm totally upset about not being able to sign my name, print the date, or meet my baby…I'm also choking to death. I begin coughing and gasping for air.

So, I'm over there, on my side of the bed, crying, coughing, trying to breathe, basically fighting for my life, and where is my wonderful husband? Sleeping. Not even concerned in the least bit. Got to love him. He can sleep deep, every night. I'm so jealous. I wish I could sleep through that kind of commotion. (I was not quiet, at all. Nor was I trying to be…I really wanted him to wake up and tell me I'm not crazy, that I have not gone mad. It would have been nice for him to get me some water too).

I decided that sitting in the bed coughing and gasping for air was probably not the best idea…I wanted to get up. I needed something to drink. I went to the kitchen and got some water. Lucy and Ella followed close behind me, they were concerned. At least I know now if I die from choking on dog hair or dust in the middle of the night, someone would notice.

So there you have it. What in the world does that even mean? Am I going to go crazy in Russia? Are they going to give me a kid if they know I'm crazy? Oh the madness!

I now make it a habit to sign my name once each day. I will not forget how to do this when we get to Russia!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Can I get a copy of my deed, please?

I know. I know. I have not been updating the blog as often as some of you would like. Sorry. I've been kinda busy.

I am currently in the process of pulling together all the paperwork for the Agency Registration and Dossier. One of the items on the list is a County Certified Copy of the Deed to our home. Where in the world do you even begin to look for a County Certified Copy of the Deed?

I started my search last Wednesday, August 19, by calling my mortgage company. I figure, they know everything else about me, I'm sure they would have a copy of the deed. Nope. Wrong. They do not have a copy of the deed. I politely asked them to give me some suggestions on who I might be able to contact to get the copy of the deed. They suggested the Tax Assessors office. Good idea.

The very same day, I called the St. John the Baptist Parish Tax Assessors office. Of course, no answer, not even as much as a voicemail. What is up with this? I tried again later that day, no response. Maybe they leave at noon on Wednesday's. I gave up for the day and decided to try again on Thursday morning.

Thursday morning came, and as soon as the clock at my desk said 8:00am, I was on the phone. I dialed the number for the St. John the Baptist Parish Tax Assessors office, and this time, I got a response. I explained my situation and told her I was looking for the Deed to my house. She said her office did not have a copy of that. I politely asked her if she had any suggestions on who I might be able to call to get a copy of the deed to my house. She suggested the Clerk of Court's Office.

A little later that same day, I called the Clerk of Court's office. The person who handled the record keeping, or whatever, was out for the day. Go figure. I asked if that person had a voicemail so that I could leave a message. Nope. That's right. No voicemail! I wish I could give up MY voicemail.

I gave up for the day and decided to try again on Friday morning. I called the St. John the Baptist Parish Clerk of Court at exactly 8:00am Friday morning. No luck. I'm not sure what I expected…it was Friday after all, and if I had it my way, I'd rather not be at work either.

First thing this morning (Monday, August 24), I made yet another attempt at the Clerk of Court. This time I got to speak to someone in the correct department. She pulled up the records from my house and stated that all she saw was a copy of the mortgage, no deed. WHAT? Um. Ok. So, again, I politely asked her if she had any suggestions as to who I might call to get a copy of the deed to my house. She suggested the original mortgage company (see our mortgage was sold shortly after we bought our house, so our current mortgage company is not the original mortgage company). Good idea.

A few seconds later, I was on the phone with Ruth, one of the nicest people I've ever talked to on the phone. Ruth works with the original mortgage holder, First National Bank U.S.A. She was more than willing to help me in my hunt for the deed to my house. She took down all of my information and vowed to call me back as soon as she found something. She called back about 15 minutes later. She explained that she was going to pass my information off to someone in the mortgage department and they would return my call later. Yes, she called me back to say that someone else was going to call me back. Wow. Great customer service.

About 30 minutes later, I got another call from First National Bank U.S.A., but this time it was from the mortgage department. The nice lady I spoke to this time simply explained that Louisiana doesn't do deeds. They simply use a copy of the mortgage. WHAT? No deed? All this time I've been searching for something that doesn't even exist? She then said that she would e-mail me a copy of what she had (yes…e-mail! Praise God someone in this world is working with technology!).

I'm still not 100% sure this whole mortgage thing is going to work, so I'm going to e-mail a copy of this to my adoption agency to make sure…but all this work for one simple little document.

Tomorrow I will begin my search for another copy of the Local Police Clearance and my Marriage License. Wish me luck.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

When will I get to go?

So, you are all probably aware now that we have official applied to the Russia adoption program with European Adoption Consultants. We are very excited about this. They have been very helpful over the past few weeks. I have called several times and asked about a million questions. They never did get annoyed with me, and they were very informative.

The process in Russia is different from the one in Taiwan, so I'm going to do my best to explain what we are about to go through.

Once you finish your home study (ours should be done in a couple of weeks), you send it to the agency for review. The home study was not nearly as bad as I thought. And for those reading this and thinking "geez, it took them forever to finish their home study." That was totally our fault. See your home study is only good for about a year. We didn't want to finish it early and then have to redo it later. We kept putting off the completion date so that we could formally apply to another program.

The next step is the dossier. This should be interesting. Below is a list of the required documents for the dossier.

The following documents must be notarized and/or certified and apostilled:

  • Marriage license / Birth certificate (if single*)
  • Financial statement for Adoptive Applicant ODHS 1681
  • Photos of adoptive family and home
  • Home Study from Licensed Agency
  • Home Study Agency's license (current)
  • Social Worker's License
  • Agency Letter of Authorized Services
  • Consent and Approval Form
  • Post Placement Verification Letter
  • Local police clearance on letterhead
  • Employment letter on letterhead (This cannot be written by yourself personally. It must be written by employer or accountant.)
  • Photocopy of Passports
  • Powers of Attorney - must be typed
  • Statement of Living Conditions
  • Promise to Register with Consulate
  • Promise to Register with Post Placement
  • Copy of I-171H Notice of Favorable Determination, cabled to Moscow, Russia, DO NOT notarize the original, only copies.

I have some of this stuff already, but I'm going to have to get busy requesting the rest of it. The agency said that it usually takes the adoptive parents about 2 months to get this stuff together. I better get started right away!

Ok the next part of this blog is just some useful info about adoption (I'm hoping after you read my series of blogs and you see us at home with our beautiful baby you will want to run off to get one of your own! It would be a perfect world if there were no more orphans...that all the babies in the world would be taken care of by loving parents!). This information is just based on my limited research. I could be totally wrong…I guess we shall see over the next few months.

After you finish your dossier to Russia, and it is accepted, you are officially on "The List." The next step is waiting. Depending on your requests (boy vs. girl, infant vs. toddler, healthy vs. minor health issues) your wait could be anywhere from 6-12 months. We are requesting a healthy infant, no gender specified, so our wait could be about 6-9 months.

Next, we should get the Referral. This is a package we should receive by mail/ups/fedex with a picture of a child (remember the old story about the stork delivering the children…well the mail man will deliver ours…hehe). We might get some medical information; some people have even gotten videos (I'm not going to get my hopes up too high for either of those, because that doesn't happen very often). Jace and I will then decide if this is the child God has planned for us. If so, we agree to travel to Russia to meet the baby.

One reason we didn't initially select Russia is because of the travel requirements. In the past, adoptive parents have had to make two trips to Russia. Recently, they have been requiring that the parents make at least 3 trips. This is a bit of a bummer.

On the first trip (taken about 2 months after referral), you meet the baby and officially accept the referral. Jace and I will get to love on the baby for all of about 5 days…then we get to come back home. Oh yes, that's right. We have to leave the baby there and come back home. This has to be the worst part of the entire process…but it is the rules and we want to abide by the rules.

The second trip is for us to appear in court to get legal custody of the baby. This trip usually takes about 7 days. I'm a bit worried about this one. I've never appeared in an American court, so doing this in Russia where I don't speak the language should be real interesting! If the judge decides to grant us custody, there is a 10 day waiting period before we can bring the baby home. Sometimes the judge can decide to waive this waiting period, but because of recent abuse cases involving Russian children in the United States, they are becoming stricter about this little rule.

At this time, Jace and I can choose to come home, wait 10 days in the states, and go back to Russia to pick up the baby. OR we could stay in Russia for the full 10 days. One of the people I talked to at EAC said that some families decide to stay and do some touristy things in Europe. I'm trying to convince Jace that this is a great idea. I've always wanted to travel through Europe, and this would be a great excuse.

So after the 10 days, the baby is ours. We get to come home. Very exciting, I know. Stay tuned for more…we have a conference call tonight with EAC to go over the required documents and such.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How clean are you?

Ok. So it's no secret that Jace and I are not the cleanest people in the world. If you have any questions about my cleanliness, call Brooke. Brooke lived with me for two and a half years in college, and she had to do all the cleaning! And Jace…well let's just say he's worse than me.

We get by. Each week we do our best to change the sheets and clean the toilets, but lately with all the running, biking and traveling, the cleaning has been sorely lacking.

The most cleaning I've done all week was the bath I gave to my sweet puppies yesterday. Ella loves to take a bath. When I got home yesterday, I told her that she was going to get a bath. Well that sweet puppy rushed into the bathroom, pushed open the shower curtain and sat in the tub. I wasn't even ready to bath them. I changed clothes, gathered up towels and shampoo, and hooked up our little sprayer thing that goes on the sink. Ella just sat there very patiently and waited for her bath.

Lucy, on the other hand, is not so fond of the bath. She will get in the tub, and she is really good while I bathe her, but she's not going to tear open the shower curtain to beat anyone to the tub.

Yesterday, I also met with Elly. She cleans one of our friend's houses, and comes highly recommended. I really liked her when I first met her. When I pointed out the stack of "stuff" sitting next to my husband's side of the bed, she says "I know husbands," meaning that she understands that there is no method to their madness.

Today was her first official day. Yes that's right, I met her yesterday, and she asked if she could start the next day. Oh how wonderful. She came to my house about 7am, with two other ladies. They cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned. I made it home at 5, they were all still there. Rather than disturb them, I decided to stop off at my neighbor's house. They just got back from vacation and I wanted to see how things went. This is the same neighbor who's son told me he didn't like big dogs because they have too much hair (check out this blog).

I left their house about 30 minutes later, Elly and her team were still hard at work at my house. I decided to run to the bank. That took all of 15 minutes. At this point I decided that I had to go work out, so I would run through the house quickly and get my workout clothes and then go to the gym.

As I approached the door, I could already see some of their work. The window on the front door (which I have NEVER cleaned) was clear. You could actually see through it. When I opened the door, I was greeted by two of the sweetest puppies ever (Lucy and Ella, of course). Yes that's right; she just let them play in the house while she cleaned. They love her! (Sorry Aunt Tricia). She said they were so sweet all day. Ella spent the day napping under our bed, and Lucy followed Elly around the house while she was cleaning.

Well I ran through, got my clothes and headed to the gym. Everything I saw on my run through the house was so clean!! Jace made it home around 6:30 and they were still there. Jace didn't want to disturb them, so he unloaded his bike (he went bike riding at the spillway today…took an awful spill…hopefully he will write his own blog on that one…anyway). He also took time to wash off the bike and himself. Sometime within the next 30 minutes, the cleaning team loaded up their stuff and headed out.

So yes, for those of you keeping track, this wonderful cleaning team was at my house from 7am to about 7pm. Did I have a messy house? I think so!

This lady and her team did an amazing job with my house! The whole house smells so good! She cleaned everything! The best things she did was the shower (oh it was just nasty), my vanity area (check out the picture below…I wish I had a "before" shot to show you how bad it was), and the folding of the towels and tissues.

So there was one catastrophe during the day of cleaning. I forgot to warn them that my washing machine has a tendency to walk. Well they washed the blanket from my bed, and then went to cleaning the bathroom in the back. They didn't hear the washing machine as it began its march across the laundry room. Yes that's right. The fight between the walking washing machine and the poor unexpecting shelf. It managed to take down the shelf where we hang our clean clothes. I'm not really all that upset about this, because I wanted to put up one of those shelves that has a full bar so you can slide the clothes from side to side. I think Elly expected me to be mad, but who could get upset at her…she was cleaning my house!

Well, Jace and I went through each room checking out the wonderful job Elly did for us. When we got to the bathroom where Ella takes her bath, she stopped and sat there. We continued to inspect all the other rooms, but not Ella, she just sat there. I think that after all that cleaning, she thought she was going to get another bath. Poor thing.

She returns every two weeks. Please feel free to stop by my house every other Thursday to see what a great job Elly does.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Do you have an update now?

Well, it's official. We are totally out of the Taiwan Program. Our first child will not come from Taiwan. Sorry. I'm just not comfortable with the fact that they may change the requirements for the other Taiwan program…even after we wait for a year. Not interested!

We did lots of research, and we are now leaning more towards Russia. This is a very popular program, and most of you probably know someone who has adopted from Russia. In 2008, 1,861 children were adopted from Russia by citizens of the United States. The only countries with more US adoptions were China (which we don't qualify for because of our age) and Guatemala (which has slowed it's adoptions in order to redo some of the adoption laws in their country). I love statistics! Check out this site for more information on adoption statistics. Did I mention how much I love statistics!?

I decided that after the disappointment that came from our first agency, I will do more research this time. I'm currently in the process of seeking references for different adoption agencies. My social worker gave me a link to the most wonderful site. There is a group of people from Louisiana called the Louisiana Eastern European Adoptive Families. Their website has so much useful information and it even gives you a list of people you could contact for adoption references. What a novel idea! Lets' be honest, I'm sure the list of references from the adoption agency have been checked out thoroughly by that agency. No way are they going to say anything negative. These are real people, with real children.

This week I e-mailed a few of the people on the list. I've received a great response. Adoptive parents are some of the nicest people you will ever meet! I've got a new blog follower, and I started following a new blog. …The Heap Family. If you are interested…check them out.

For those interested in adoption…this is a necessary step. I did not do this with my first agency and I regret that. Talk to people!! Ask them about their experiences. To help you out…I'm going to give you the list of questions I asked all my references. Be specific. If you ask someone "How was your adoption?" they are likely to tell you how wonderful their children are and how much of a blessing they are in their lives...and while this is great…you really need to know some specifics on how the adoption went down.

These are our questions:

  • Which country did you adopt from? What area of that country?
  • When did you begin the adoption process? When was the adoption finalized?
  • What was the age and health of your child you adopted? Was this what you requested?
  • My husband and I are seeking a health infant. We don't really care what the sex of the child is. Was your agency willing to work with you on this type of criteria?
  • How accurate were the cost and time estimates that the agency gave you? Were there any hidden charges or delays?
  • Did you have any problems with the agency? If so, were they resolved?
  • How promptly did the agency return your phone calls/e-mails? I ask this question because my husband and I recently signed up for another country through another agency. They called us one day and told us that the country changed their requirements and we were not old enough to adopt from that country. They explained that there were some other options, they would check on those for us and get back to us. I didn't hear from them for almost four weeks (I called them nearly every day and sent 2-3 e-mails a week). We were very disappointed in their response time. I want to make sure the next agency we work with will answer our questions in a timely manner.
  • Would you recommend your agency to someone else? Why or why not.

A special "thanks" to Brooke!! The book you gave me is wonderful! To get a copy for yourself click here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

How was Youth Camp?

As many of you know, I spent a week in Orange Beach, Alabama with the youth from my church, First Baptist LaPlace. We had a wonderful time. We took about 35 kids and 7 "adults" (I use that word loosely because we act just like the kids most of the time).

As a kid, I grew up in a Missionary Baptist Church. It was a small church with a youth group that consisted of me, my sisters, and maybe 7 other people. Youth camp was never something I really got excited about. It was just something we had to do. The camp we went to when I was younger was in the middle of Texas, no A/C, and our counselors didn't like for us to go swimming (I guess because someone might be able to see through the XL t-shirt they made us wear over our swim suits??). Not a very pleasant experience.

I find that most churches have a genuine concern for the teenagers in their church, but so often they don't know what to do with them. I'm 27, so I'm only about 10 years older than these kids…and I don't know what to do with most of them! Last year, my husband convinced me to go to youth camp. I must admit, I was a little cautious at first, seeing as how I had no idea what I was in for. Last year we went to a BigStuff Camp in Florida. The music and the speaker were great. All my time spent as a youth, I never really got to enjoy this type of worship. You know, I might have been more into this whole "God Thing" when I was in high school if I had known it could be so much fun.

Well this year, our wonderful youth pastor, Brian, decided that we should try out a Student Life Camp. What a smart guy he is! The speaker for the camp was David Platt. For those who have not read some of my earlier blogs, I love David Platt. He is an amazing speaker, and his ability to use scripture in every word that he preaches is just amazing. His passion for Christ is something that I envy.

He preached a message on finding God's will that left me totally changed. After the week of listening to him, I have been challenged to do things differently.

The worship leader at this camp is one of my all time favorite Christian artist….Todd Agnew. The music he sings is deep, and I love that. It makes you take a look at yourself and challenges you to see things differently. As a worship leader, he was not at all what I expected. It was so much better than anything I could have imagined. He broke down the songs and made us really pay attention to what we were singing…and who we were singing these songs to. At one point he told us not to even sing unless we really mean the words that we were saying. Powerful.

A special "thanks" to the Youth Minister that put these two wonderful trips together. Wouldn't have been the same without you!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What do you do when you have a difficult decision to make?

So I've been putting off this post for quite some time now (ok…just a couple of weeks). I don't want to post something out here for all of the world to know, unless my mind is made up. I want to be completely sure about something before I let anyone else comment or give advice.

See, ask anyone that knows me, I do not take advice well. Or criticism, helpful suggestions, tips, hints, instructions, directions, commands, orders, etc…you get the picture. I'm a little hard headed. I really don't like it when people tell me what I should do, and I get even more frustrated when they start offering these suggestions when they know nothing about what I'm going through.

Ok. Let me step down off that soapbox now and continue with the real reason I'm writing this blog post.

Well, Jace and I found out a couple of weeks ago that we can indeed apply for Taiwan Program II. "So what is stopping you from applying?" you might ask. Well, during that wait time between when we found out that we couldn't apply to Program III and when we found out we could apply to Program II, we did lots of research on other countries, just in case we were told Taiwan is a "no go." While doing all this research, Jace and I kind of started leaning toward another country. I know, this is just crazy. I love Taiwan. Why would I not want to get a beautiful baby from this wonderful country? Well, there are lots of reasons why Taiwan Program II may not be right for us.

So in order to assist us in making this difficult decision, I have created my very own Pro/Con list. Yes, that's right…all my nerdy friends…you should be so proud.

I'd really rather not share the list with the entire world, but suffice it to say that it appears that another country may be winning. I really want this thing to work out.

I'm sure this is not exactly the update you were looking for. Believe me, I wish I had more answers, but unfortunately I don't.

Keep praying that we make the right decision.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What are friends for?

Ok. So I had no idea I had this many diehard fans. This blog is really kind of an outlet for me, to vent my frustration, to inform the world wide web of all the happenings in the lives of these Raney's and to help myself remember what I was doing during this time in my life. I've had several people over the past couple of days ask "when are you going to update your blog?" Who knew?? Crazy.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to spend some time with some really great girls. They are wonderful friends, devoted mothers, supportive wives, and I'm so fortunate that they keep allowing me to go on these crazy girl trips.

This is our forth time to go away, just the three of us. We decided a few years ago to make this an annual thing. The first time we went away, we went on a tour of plantation homes in St. Francisville, LA and Natchez, MS. We left out of Ruston early one morning and visited four homes, and returned to Ruston later that night (none of us could afford a hotel room, because we were all still poor college students).

A few years went by, we all graduated, I got married and moved to Baton Rouge, one of the girls moved to Memphis to attend Seminary (she later returned to Ruston), and the other got married a month after I did and moved to Pineville, LA. Our lives were pretty busy for a while, and we really weren't able to take a trip.

We discussed it this weekend, and none of us can remember who it was that decided that we should go on a "girls only" trip again, but it was decided and we all agreed we should return to Natchez, MS. That was two summers ago. Last year we partied hard in New Orleans, LA. This year we went to Atlanta, GA.

In honor of these two wonderful ladies, I wanted to dedicate a blog entry to them. As I mentioned before, I have a terrible memory, so please feel free to correct me if I have printed something incorrectly!

I met Lisa during a quarter break trip to some camp in Texas (I don't remember the name or even the city where this camp was located…sorry). It was my freshman year of college and as mentioned earlier, I spent most of my freshman year trying to get Jace's attention, and then trying to keep Jace's attention, so there wasn't much time in during all that attention grabbing to get to know people. I regret this.

For the first few months I knew Lisa I thought her name was Kim. No lie. Not sure why…she doesn't really look like a Kim, she doesn't act like a Kim, who knows. Lisa started dating Keith a few months after our trip to this unnamed camp. I could write an entire story just on Keith….but sorry; this story is not about Keith. Anyway, when Keith told us that he asked Lisa out, I had no idea who Lisa was (I was still thinking her name was Kim). He described her and quickly set me straight…her name is indeed Lisa.

So after Keith's first date with Lisa, he called me and told me that Lisa was no fun and it was a horrible date. She was rude and they were never going out again. Well, I was about ready to take Lisa down at this point. No one could ever treat Keith like that…he's such a great guy! (It wasn't until I had talked ugly about her with another friend for about 45 minutes that Keith called back and set it straight…she's a great girl and they had a great time). So for some odd reason (probably because we were the only other couple at the ABS at the time), Keith and Lisa invited me and Jace to go with them on their second date….to the circus. Two words…Elephant Poop.

Well after that, Lisa and I became really good friends. She has the best laugh, and I love to hear her tell the story of how she did a paper or presentation or something (obviously I remember this story really well…geez) of all of her different laughs…she had like 15 different laughs. I wish I could remember what they are now. I think my favorite was the joc laugh (imagine in a deep voice "huhuhu"). So funny. I guess you would have to actually hear her do it.

Now for Brooke. Brooke and I met one night at the ABS. I don't even remember when. She and I had a lot in common because we were both raised in Union Parish. After I knew her for about a week, we decided it would be a great idea for us to live together. We were both desperate to move out of our house, and she had some really great connections on a place with cheap rent. Sign me up!

We moved in together in May 2001. I knew very little about her, and she knew very little about me. I guess it worked out. See Brooke is a bit OCD ("a bit" might be an understatement). This worked out well for me. I never had to clean the tub, toilet, or dishes. She did most of the laundry and one time she even cleaned up my bedroom. I am not so OCD. I know she must have wanted to pull her hair out while living with me. There were very few things that didn't bother her…dust and silverware. She never dusted (and neither did I) and the silverware drawer was always a mess.

I can only remember having one big fight with her…which is impressive because we lived together for over two and a half years (Jon can you say the same??). One day I came home, after having a really bad day, to find that my George Forman was in the sink. See you can't put a George Forman in the kitchen sink…it is electric, with a plug, and you have to hand wash it outside of the sink. I have no idea why this set me off, but it did. I picked up that George Forman, marched into Brooke's room and in front of a few of our friends, I told her that I did not appreciate her treating my George that way. Well we worked through our issues.

The three of us actually lived together for a few months. Oh what fun! We would sit in front of the TV each night and watch another hour of "North and South" with Patrick Swayze. Well this movie/mini-series inspired our first girl's trip. We visited two of the houses featured in this movie.

I consider myself truly blessed to have friends like this. They inspire me. Now if only I could find a way to get summers off and not actually have to teach…that way we could spend more time together.

Below is a picture of the three of us at the World of Coke in Atlanta, GA.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Do you have an update yet?

Yes. I know you have all been anxiously awaiting an update on how the adoption process is going; since we found out we no longer qualify for Taiwan Program III. Well, we are no further along than we were three weeks ago.

I have been doing my best to become the Adoption Agency's "Most Annoying Client." Oh yes. I've called nearly every day since we got the news we were out of Program III, and I have yet to receive any definite word on where we stand.

Below is an example of the conversation I have daily with the Admin Assistant at the Adoption Agency:

A: Journey's of the Heart, how may I help you?

Emily: Hi A. It's Emily Raney.

A: Oh, hi Emily, how are you doing today?

Emily: I'm good, and you?

A: I'm just fine. I take it you have not heard from David yet.

Emily: Nope, still waiting on his call.

A: I was hoping he would call you yesterday.

Emily: Yes, well, I was too.

A: I'll put your name on the list again, and hopefully he will call today.

Emily: Ok. Thanks A. If not, don't worry, I'll call back tomorrow.

A: I know.

Ok…so the last few lines may not be totally word for word, but that is definitely what we are thinking.

I'm doing my best to be patient, but come on! It's been a week and a half since I last spoke to him, and he was going to get me some additional information on the Taiwan Program II. Do we qualify for that program? What is the wait time? Are there any other restrictions we have to meet? Hello? Can I get some response?

Can you hear the frustration in my writing?

Once I hear more…I'll let you know.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Do you have something you would die for?

So, I've been looking for a poem or a song or something to express how I feel. How I have been feeling for the last couple of years. Something I could share with other people struggling with infertility. I found this video/song on another adoption blog that I read. I thought I might share it with you.

Warning: I cry every time I watch this, so if you are at work, or in a public place, you may want to save this one for when you are home, with a nice glass of wine, and a box of tissues.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Where do we go from here?

So we took a big blow this week. The adoption process was moving along great until I got the following e-mail from my contact with Journey's of the Heart (our adoption agency).

"We learned that ProIII changed the age requirement for families from 27-49 to 30-48. We are sending your file to the Senior Taiwan Director in our Shoreline office to see if we can still keep you in the program since you applied before the change took effect. I will keep you posted of what she will say. I'm keeping my fingers crossed."

How do I explain my emotions at this point? Angry, sad, upset, frustrated, bitter, mad, offended…you get the picture. Sometimes I just get so angry when people assume that I won't be good at something because of my age. I'm trying my best to be understanding. I know that there are lots of people out there that want a baby from Taiwan, and this is just their way of narrowing down the list.

Jace and I really haven't had a chance to discuss our options at this point. I did find out yesterday that we are officially out of Program III. No chance that they would accept us because I'm only 27. There is another program with Taiwan that we could get into, but the wait time is much longer. We could try to pick another country, but it took us weeks to decide on Taiwan.

I guess what I'm asking for is prayer. I have no idea where to go from here. I just start crying every time I think about having to wait 3 years to get on a list (and then possibly another 2 years to get a child….oh yes…that means 5 years folks!).

A special "Thanks" to my wonderful sisters…Joani, Mitzi and Tricia…you girls are the best! They sent me flowers yesterday to help me feel better. Flowers always make me feel better!

Monday, May 11, 2009

How did the second Home Study appointment go?

Well, the second home study visit (or Home Invasion as my family likes to call it) went really well. The visit took about 4 hours. By the end of the evening, we were so overwhelmed by all the information our social worker gave us. There are so many things you need to know prior to getting any child (by birth or adoption). I guess since most of our friends and family have biological children, we don't have a lot of experience in how to care for a child that may have been in foster care or an orphanage. Lots of other health and attachment issues you need to be aware of.

Below are a few of the ones we found really interesting.

This entire attachment process is just fascinating to me. Well, when you have a biological child, and you are there with them from day 1, they know who mom and dad are. They understand who was put on this earth to care for their every need. In an orphanage, it may not be that clear. The children in orphanages are cared for by lots of different people (similar to nurses at a hospital…they work in shifts). I have convinced myself that these caregivers love the children (please, don't tell me any different), but because there are so many caregivers and so many children, they don't' really have a chance to create that one on one bond. By not having this chance, these children come to the understanding that all adults are their caregivers. They don't meet a stranger. In WalMart, they may walk up to any adult and begin expressing a need or a want. I never would have thought of this.

We are still learning on how to overcome this problem, but our social worker suggested that for the first few months the child is with us, Jace and I are the only ones who are allowed to meet that child's needs. That means that every time the child needs to be fed, changed, bathed, or entertained, Jace and I are the only ones allowed to do this. She also suggested that we may not want other adults loving on the baby until the child has a chance to make the connection with me and Jace. Ok. So I know what you are thinking…is that really possible? How in the world are Jace and I going to go from having no children, to having a child that no one else is allowed to care for? No breaks for us. Grandma won't be able to help with a midnight feeding, or midday diaper changes. Well, I'm guessing that there are lots of parts about parenting that are difficult, but when you love your child, you will do whatever is necessary to care for and protect that little bundle of joy.

Also, as a note on the comments above…sorry grandparents. I know this is going to be very difficult for you as well. I asked our social worker what she would suggest for the grandparents. She said that top priority is for the baby to know mom and dad. These first few months are very important in the development and training of the baby. If grandparents insist on helping, then they can come do the dishes and laundry, so that Jace and I will have more time to care for the baby. Sorry guys.

Another interesting thing we learned is that all children have this "need cycle" as I'm going to call it. The cycle is as follows: (1) Child has a need, (2) Adult/Caregiver/Parent recognizes the child's need, (3) Need is met, (4) Child is satisfied. In an orphanage, this cycle is broken at times. There may be times when the child cries and an adult does not recognize the need, therefore the need goes unmet. When this happens over and over, the child eventually learns to satisfy himself. "Why is this so important?" you might ask. Well the thing is that if the baby learns that no one will respond to his cry, then he doesn't cry. For new parents this is very scary. Could you imagine bringing home your baby, and the baby never cried? How would you ever know if the baby is hungry, sleepy, wet, etc. You don't. New parents rely on that baby to tell them what to do. Some may think a baby that doesn't cry is a good thing, but in reality it's not so much.

One last thing I want to mention about a child that has spent time in an orphanage. Children that live in orphanages are one month behind developmentally for every three months they stay in the orphanage. This means that if the baby is 12 months old when we go get him, he will behave much like an 8 month old. I'm pointing this out so that you don't make the mistake in saying "at 12 months, so-and-so's kid was walking" or whatever. You cannot compare the development of a child raised by loving parents from day one to a child who has spent time in an orphanage.

Below is the list we got from our social worker on some other suggestions on how to create a healthy relationship with our child…

  1. Hold your baby. Touch your baby. Use a chest carrier as much as possible. Do not let his feet touch the ground. You cannot spoil this child.
  2. Respond to your child's cries within 15 seconds, so that he/she knows that you are there for them.
  3. Make lots of eye contact. Play peek-a-boo.
  4. Playfully imitate your child. Let him/her know he/she is center of the universe.
  5. Talk to your child while you perform nurturing actions such as cuddling or feeding.
  6. Stay with your child and comfort him/her through crying and screaming. This allows the child to express emotions and shows the child that they can trust you in the future to comfort in times of need.
  7. Learn as much as you can about the child's former routine and follow that as closely as possible…eating, sleeping, bathing, clothing. Once the child gets to know you, you can gradually introduce your ways.
  8. Initially, Mom and Dad should be the only people meeting the baby's needs. The baby needs to bond with them first.
  9. Use music, especially lullabies in the child's native language.
  10. Consider a family bed.

Some of the things on the list are not things we would have done with a biological child, and I'm sure you wouldn't consider doing them with your children…but remember these kids are different and they have different needs. I don't care so much for the chest carriers, but I understand that it is important for the baby to be close to me, but I'm going to eventually have to go grocery shopping or take a walk down the street or whatever. If he/she likes that kind of thing, well then that's what we are going to do. Also, I am not a fan at all of the family bed. I am such a light sleeper, and I know that I am going to be exhausted when the baby arrives. Our social worker stated that most children in orphanages share beds with other babies, so to assume that the baby will be perfectly fine in a bed alone, in a room all alone, is just crazy. You have to transition one thing at a time, I suppose. First get used to being with me and Jace, then we can discuss the family bed issues.

Ok. Well that is a lot of information, but I find it just fascinating. I can't wait to try all these thing out with our little Tator-Tot!