Autumn 2006 (14.3)
Write Us From Around the World
Adopting Older Children
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,
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.
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.
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: email@example.com,
or contact the editor of Azerbaijan International at ai@AZER.com.
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