Autumn 2004 (12.3)
Stuffed Animals and Adoption Realities
These days, it's very
popular in the United States for parents to tell their adoptive
children about their early beginnings. The tendency is to share
such crucial information, not to hide it and not to surprise
children with the reality of their origins later in life. Families
want to instill within their children that they have been chosen
to become a vital part of their family because they are dearly
Many of the families, which are adopting children from Azerbaijan,
are finding creative ways to present this information. The tendency
is to initiate the process at a very young age, often in a storybook
The procedure of adopting a child in Azerbaijan entails two trips
to Baku, the capital. The first journey involves meeting the
child, and then going before a judge who ascertains for the State
that the family is stable and reliable enough to take care of
the child. A second trip follows, usually about a month later,
to bring the child back home.
Diane Proctor and her husband Ben of Albany, Georgia, and their
three biological children, came up with the idea of taking a
little toy stuffed bear to the little girl who would soon be
joining their family. Later Diane decided that the bear would
be the perfect protagonist to introduce the concept of adoption
to their little new family member.
Left: The Proctor Family: (left to right)
Micah, Miranda, Mother Diane holding her daughter Madeline, Benjamin
and Father Ben.
Diane loves bears herself. That's why she chose this stuffed
animal and named it "Azeri Beary". She involved their
other older children in the book-making process. Their 12-year-old
daughter Miranda designed the art for the front and back covers.
Their oldest son, Benjamin, introduced the element of tree-climbing
into the story, and their youngest son Micah, contributed the
term, "Cotton Candy Sky" - which he had coined at age
two - to mean a sunset sky of puffy pink and blue clouds.
Diane took photos of the little stuffed bear during the entire
process - filling out documents, packing for the trip, flying
on the airplane to and from Baku, and visiting the orphanage
where their daughter Malahat was living.
Now Malahat is back with them in the United States. They call
her "Madeline" now. She loves her personalized storybook
about Azeri Beary. The story is deliberately written in simple
language for a young child to understand and enjoy.
Diane says: "When I read the story, Madeline looks up at
me with her big brown eyes and makes the baby sign for 'more'.
So we usually read it at least twice at each sitting."
"We plan to use 'adoption' as a 'household word'. We want
Madeline to be proud of who she is, and how she came to be a
part of our family. Being adopted is part of her heritage. It's
part of what makes her so special. It's part of the treasure
that is Madeline."
"I just wish Azeri Beary really was able to talk,"
Diane continues, "and that she could tell us what Madeline's
day-to-day life really was like in the Baby House during those
first months of her life before she entered our lives. The workers
really seemed to care for the children there. I could see it
in their eyes as they looked on when we visited Madeline. Our
adoption experience was one of miraculous joy. I want Madeline
to catch a glimpse of that as she grows up."
Visiting Azerbaijan on those two trips was a positive experience
for the Proctors. "I loved Azerbaijan," Diane admits.
"I loved the people. Even strangers made us feel welcome.
We come from such different worlds, but we have one very special
thing in common - Madeline. The history and culture of Azerbaijan
is amazing, and we want to cultivate within her and within all
members of our family a deep appreciation of the country from
which our youngest member has come."
upon a time, there was a wee little bear named Azeri Beary. She
loved to climb trees and smell flowers. She loved rainbows and
Cotton Candy skies. She lived with a nice family in a big house.
There was a Daddy, a Mommy, a sister and two brothers who wanted
to find a baby sister to join their family. They prayed and asked
God to help them find a very special little girl. Azeri Beary
One day, the family found out about a tiny, little girl who lived
in a far-away land called Azerbaijan. Her name was "Malahat",
which means "charming". She was just like her name,
very charming and very, very special. She lived in a Baby House.
She didn't have a family, but there were many nice ladies in
the Baby House that took good care of all the children that lived
there. But, still, it was not the same as Malahat growing up
in her own family.
Mommy made gifts for the baby. She also made a special shirt
for Azeri Beary. The shirt had Malahat's picture on it. Azeri
Beary was going to get to travel to meet the new baby. She would
also have a very special job. Azeri Beary's job was to stay at
the Baby House with Malahat until the Mommy and Daddy could come
back to take her home. That way, Malahat wouldn't be alone. Azeri
Beary was so excited about this adventure. She helped to pack
all the things they would need for their long journey. She picked
out the clothes and toys to take to Baby Malahat.
The family even picked out a new name for Malahat so that it
would be easy for people to remember in her new country. Her
new name would be "Madeline Faith". Azeri Beary liked
the new name very much. She couldn't wait to meet Madeline. Very
soon, she would do just that.
Finally, the day arrived! The Daddy, Mommy and Azeri Beary went
to the airport. Azeri Beary was amazed at how big the airplane
was. It would be a very long journey to Azerbaijan. But, Azeri
Beary was ready! Azeri Beary got to sit by the window. She looked
down at the world and wondered: "What would Madeline's world
look like? Would there be trees? Flowers? Rainbows? Cotton Candy
skies? She couldn't wait to get there. Go!!! Airplane, go!!!"
The next day, they finally arrived in a big city called Baku.
It was a very ancient and beautiful place. They met Ali, Zarina
and Mehriban who were very kind helpers. The next day, Ali took
them to the Baby House to meet Madeline. The Baby House was big
and old, but the rooms were bright and cheerful. Azeri Beary
was excited and nervous. She really wanted Madeline to like her.
Left: Madeline and Azeri Beary looking out
of the window of the plane on Madeline's trip to the U.S. to
join the Proctors.
a nice lady brought Madeline to the Mommy and Daddy. Madeline
was very scared and she cried. The Mommy and Daddy played and
played with her. Soon she was smiling and laughing. Madeline
liked Azeri Beary, too. She smiled when she touched her soft
fur. Azeri Beary thought that Madeline was the most beautiful
baby in the whole wide world. Everyone was happy. The next day,
they played with Madeline some more. Azeri Beary taught her to
play games like "Peek-a-boo" and "Pat-a-cake".
Madeline liked the gifts that Mommy had made.
Then it was time for the Mommy and Daddy to go home. They were
sad. They wished Madeline could come home then, but they had
to wait. They kissed Madeline goodbye and promised to come back
in 30 days to bring her home. Azeri Beary promised to take very
good care of their baby girl. Then the Mommy and Daddy left for
home - back to the United States.
In the Baby House, Azeri Beary and Madeline had lots of fun.
She made sure that Madeline got plenty of good food to eat. They
soon became best friends. Azeri Beary liked to tell Madeline
stories about home and family. She showed Madeline all the toys
that they brought for her. They played and played and played.
Azeri Beary did a great job of taking care of Baby Madeline.
Before long, it was time for the Mommy and Daddy to come back.
Azeri Beary and Madeline were playing in her crib. One of the
kind ladies brought Madeline and Azeri Beary into a new room.
Guess who was waiting for her? MOMMY AND DADDY!!!
They were so glad to see Madeline! They took her in their arms
and kissed her. She smiled. She wasn't afraid this time. Soon
they packed Madeline's things and said, "Good-bye"
to the kind ladies. They left the Baby House and started off
to be a family.
They stayed in a hotel for a few more days. Mommy and Daddy were
very happy finally to hold their baby in their arms. They did
everything together. Azeri Beary slept with Madeline every night.
Very soon they would be back home. Azeri Beary will always be
there to sleep with her friend, Madeline - her Forever Friend.
When it was time to get on the big airplane, Madeline wasn't
afraid. She wasn't sure what was going on. But, very soon, she
would meet the rest of her forever family. As they flew over
the ocean, they looked out the window. Madeline wondered about
her new world. She wanted to see trees and flowers. She wanted
to see rainbows and Cotton Candy skies. Azeri Beary had told
her so many stories. Soon she would see for herself. They couldn't
wait to get home.
Finally the plane landed. Madeline got to meet the rest of her
family. She met her sister, brothers, grandparents, aunt and
friends. Everyone was so happy to meet Madeline. They had waited
a long time. She had many new people to get to know. After she
met them all, it was time to drive home. In the van, she laughed
at her brothers until she fell fast asleep. Soon she would wake
up in her new home. But for now, she had only her dreams.
Very soon, Madeline was a very happy member of a very happy family.
She loves her Mommy, Daddy, sister and brothers. She loves her
Forever Family. Azeri Beary and Madeline have a lifetime of adventures
to live. They love to climb trees and smell pretty flowers. They're
forever chasing pretty rainbows. And they always stop to thank
God for Cotton Candy skies and Forever Families.
Links: For more
stories about how parents are sharing the awareness of adoption
with their children, read "Preserving Adoption Memories"
by Kathleen Shryock, AI 10.3 (Autumn 2002). Search at AZER.com.
Also, the AzerbaijanAdopt ListServ on YAHOO! provides a wonderful
resource, offering kind advice, support and comfort for families.
This group is for families who have adopted a child from Azerbaijan,
families who are in the process of an Azeri adoption, considering
adoption, or anyone interested in the well being of orphans in
Highly recommended. The group was founded in December 2001 and
now boasts 402 members. More than 100 Azerbaijani children have
been adopted by families in the United States. Join the ListServ
(12.3) Autumn 2004.
© Azerbaijan International 2004. All rights reserved.
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