Autumn 2001 (9.3)
a Child from Azerbaijan
Other articles related
to Azerbaijan Adoptions and Orphanages in Azerbaijan
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Guidelines - Adopting a
Child from Azerbaijan
Airways Adopts Orphanage
Saving the Children: Mobil Undertakes
Games Build Bridges: International Women's Club Reaches Out
Annual Reunion of Adopted Children from Azerbaijan
Choosing a reputable
agency to facilitate an international adoption is a daunting
task. There are literally hundreds of agencies working in more
than 20 different countries. Though Azerbaijan has only recently
opened for international adoption, many agencies are already
beginning programs there. Finding an agency that is proficient,
honest and forthright is an absolute must. Agencies may be fully
licensed and not-for-profit, yet still have staff that are incompetent
or unprofessional. Without thoroughly researching the agencies
and the people with whom they work, you will be susceptible to
polished Web pages publicizing humanitarian aid but never even
listing the agency owner's name. How do you know who is reliable
and ethical? Below are several tips to help you wade through
the pool. This is not an exhaustive list, but it will get you
Choosing an Agency
Above: Donna and Frank Simone
in Baku with their two newly adopted boys, Daniel (21 months)
and Paul (19 months). The Simones make their home in Robbinsville,
Research! Research! Do not rely solely on the references given
by the agency or the earnest copy and attractive pictures on
slick Web sites or brochures. Find out for yourself.
2. Pay a visit to the Adoption Guide Web site:
3. Join an international adoption Listserv and ask questions:
4. Contact the U.S. Consulate in Baku:
http://usembassybaku.org/consul/consmain.html; Tel: (994-12) 98-03-35/
-36/ -37; Fax: 98-37-55.
5. Contact the Consul from the Azerbaijani Embassy in your country.
[See AZER.com, click on DIRECTORY, then EMBASSIES, then
AZERBAIJAN'S EMBASSIES ABROAD.] In the U.S., contact: Azerbaijan
Embassy, 2741 34th Street NW, Washington, DC 20008; Tel: (202)
337-3500; Fax: (202) 337-5911; AZembassy.com; email@example.com.
If the agency does not answer the following inquiries to your
satisfaction, explore other alternatives:
Left: Talia Zohra was adopted in July 2001
by Randall and Michelle Blum of Michigan. She is shown here with
Michelle and brother Mitchell, 4. She also joins brothers Joshua,
16, and Andrew, 14.
you work with in-country facilitators? Who are they? What are
the names of all the people working on my adoption - stateside and overseas?
Ask other adoptive parents the same questions about coordinators
or facilitators that you ask about agencies: Are they honest?
Do they respond to questions in a timely fashion? How long did
the adoption take? Did they stick with the stated cost or did
it go up?
2. How much are your agency's fees? Ask for a detailed breakdown
of all fees. Find out, to the dollar, how much money goes to
whom. Do not accept a lump sum labeled "international fee"
unless you know exactly what costs are covered by that sum.
3. How many adoptions has your agency completed in Azerbaijan
with the current facilitator and staff? How long do adoptions
realistically take, from completion of dossier to court date?
These days, the Azerbaijani government requires a 30-day wait
after the court hearing before the child can leave the country.
That means two trips for the parents.
Left: Donna and Dane Huffman with son Grayson
Murad Huffman, adopted July 2001, and daughter Hayley. Murad
means "dream or wish come true".The Huffmans live in
Hickory, North Carolina.
4. What medical information will be provided on my referral?
Can I have an independent medical evaluation? (You should be
able to.) What services does the in-country facilitator provide?
(These could include translation services, driver, food, document
review, tour guide and host.)
1. An agency should never offer a referral (the name of a specific
child) before the Azerbaijan Adoption Committee has approved
your dossier. Until then, a specific child cannot be reserved.
In other countries, this has resulted in families losing a child
to another family who was approved before them. A child will
languish in the orphanage if it is held for a family who takes
a long time to get approval. If an agency is working within the
law, it cannot promise a specific child before dossier approval.
Left: Esme Rose Alsu Bisbee (9 months old)
with her brothers, Cabot, 6, Windsor, 12, and Saxon, 14. Esme's
parents are Catherine and Kent Bisbee. The Bisbee family lives
in Pennsylvania. Photo: July 2001.
2. Beware of high-cost adoptions. Ask for an itemized list of
the foreign fees. Confirm these fees with the Azerbaijan Consulate.
Compare fees at several agencies. Total costs should range from
$10,000 to $20,000. We spent around $13,000 [June 2000], including
travel and in-country costs. Economy flights to Azerbaijan from
the U.S. cost about $1,500 roundtrip. Both parents are required
to appear in court on the first trip. Currently, it may be possible
for one parent to return alone to pick up the child a month later.
3. Be leery of any agency promising to complete adoptions in
less than six months. Unless the procedures change, it usually
takes six to ten months from the time a dossier is submitted
until the court date.
Left: Natasha Kirby with her mom, Kelly Kirby.
Natasha was adopted August 2001. They live in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
4. The agency can and should arrange an independent medical evaluation
for the child at a Western medical clinic after you accept a
referral. If they say it is not possible, look elsewhere.
5. If an orphanage donation is required, know that this is an
agency requirement, not an Azerbaijani requirement. Donations
are very much appreciated and extremely helpful to the institution,
but they are not required by law.
6. Familiarize yourself with the Azerbaijan adoption requirements
found on the U.S. State Department's Web site. If this information
does not match what your agency is saying, you are being misled:
Left: The Shryock family at home in Overland
Park, Kansas: Rachel Elena (21 months), Kathleen, Jim and Lucas
Wilson (20 months). Rachel and Lucas (not from the same biological
family) were adopted in Baku in January 2001. Their names both
mean "light", which reflects the joy that their parents
say has come into their lives from these children.
Hints: Fall in love
1. Research your child's birth country before you travel there.
[A good place to start is with AZER.com, articles in English from Azerbaijan
International magazine that date from 1993.]
2. Understand that you are adopting from a different culture.
Look for the best and enjoy the adventure.
3. Make sure you visit the cultural sights of Baku. Take many
photos to share with your child later.
4. Understand that childcare practices are different the world
over. Be gracious and accept the recommendations of those who
have cared for your child. You will have a lifetime to change
things once you return home.
5. Remember that this country is giving you a child. Help the
Azerbaijani culture stay alive for your child and appreciate
the people who have cared for him or her.
If you chose to adopt from Azerbaijan, you will meet many caring
people who only want the best for Azerbaijani children. Treat
them with respect and courtesy. Armed with good research and
an open attitude toward the country and its people, your adoption
will be an exciting and wonderful beginning for your family.
(9.3) Autumn 2001.
© Azerbaijan International 2001. All rights reserved.
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