Azerbaijan International

Autumn 2006 (14.3)
Pages 8-9

Readers' Forum
Readers Write Us From Around the World
Adopting Older Children

by Maggie Combe from Sydney, Australia

Often, when I look at my beautiful six-year-old son that my husband David and I adopted from Azerbaijan three years ago, my thoughts turn to another little boy who has remained behind in one of the orphanages in Baku.

This other little boy just recently had a birthday. He would have turned six. I'll call him Kamran. I doubt that there was any celebration - no birthday cake, no festivities, no presents, no balloons.

I try to imagine how it might have been for my son Orkhan had he remained behind in the orphanage, without love from parents, support and stimulation of family life, one-on-one attention, and health care and educational opportunities that we have been able to provide.

Even in orphanages, which are administered with the utmost care and kindness, children are systematically neglected - not because the staff doesn't care for them, but because a child's individual needs cannot intimately be met in institutions. It's so difficult for children to thrive and blossom there.

Hopefully, the adoption process will begin to move forward again in Azerbaijan after this two-year lull. If it does, I would like to encourage families not to overlook older children. Kamran is very much in need of a loving family. He's an endearing, bright-eyed child with a smile that would light up the universe. My husband and I became aware of him in early 2003 when we accepted our referrals to adopt an infant girl and a toddler boy. Kamran was already two years old at the time.

He was referred to an American family but, sadly, the referral came too late, as the suspension of international adoptions was already underway. He then was referred to an Azerbaijani family, but again the referral came after the cut-off date, when domestic adoptions had been suspended as well.

How much bad luck can one little boy have to deal with? This child, caught up in bureaucracy, has remained in a "baby house" in Baku ever since then. We understand that he is in good health, but he very much needs to be placed with a family in order to flourish and reach his potential.

We adopted our children in September 2003 from the orphanage known as Baby House No. 1 in Baku. Our daughter Medina was a year old; our son Orkhan, three. We brought them to Australia all the way across the world to their new home.

Not long afterwards, the adoption suspension in Azerbaijan went into effect. We have been told that it can be difficult to find families for older children, especially boys over the age of two, partly because adopting families often fear the unknown. Families are apprehensive about attachment disorders, language acquisition and the challenges that may lie ahead.

It must be said that all adoptions, regardless of the age of the child, are a leap of faith - for both the adoptive parent and the child. One must be as prepared as possible before adopting any child, including an older child.

Our son Orkhan did have a few attachment issues at the beginning, but now has settled down very happily into our family.

He's in kindergarten now. He's such a loving and caring child. He was hungry to learn and was soon communicating in English.

He has good receptive and expressive language skills. For the past six months, he has been involved in a weekly session of speech therapy to assist with the development of his foundation skills for school and a weekly session of occupational therapy to assist him with visual perception.

He was diagnosed as being far-sighted late last year and since January, he's been wearing glasses, which are correcting his vision problems. Had he remained in the orphanage, it's likely that he never would have been able to learn to read or write, as his vision problems almost certainly would have gone undiagnosed.

Our son is a keen soccer player and was awarded "Player of the Week" during the final game of the soccer season. We will never forget his thrill at being able to play his heart out with his little friends. He swims, snorkels and runs like the wind whenever we go to the park or the beach. He loves to explore and to discover how things work. He has a wonderful sense of humor. He adores his sister and is very protective of her and she, in turn, idolizes him. This is so gratifying to us as our children, although they resided in the same Baby House in Baku, they were totally unrelated and would not really have known each other had we not formed our family.

Our children are aware that they are adopted. Our son is sad sometimes for his birth mother (whom he did not have an opportunity to know and of whom he would have no conscious memory). When he first left the orphanage, he grieved for the little friend with whom he had become attached.

During the past three years, we have watched both of our kids as they began to build a new life with us. We have shared in their struggles and triumphs.

We have marvelled at how they have blossomed and watched them grow to love us and accept us as their parents.

Knowing that we have made a difference in their lives is the greatest happiness we could ever have hoped for. Truly, they have filled our lives with joy. I appeal to families embarking upon adoption from Azerbaijan to consider giving Kamran and other older children like him, the same opportunities that we have been privileged to offer our children. Interested families may contact me:, or contact the editor of Azerbaijan International at


Back to the article
(Autumn 2006)

AI Home
| Search | Magazine Choice | Topics | AI Store | Contact us

Other Web sites created by Azerbaijan International
| |