Azerbaijan International

Volume 15.1
Page 60

A Bigger World
School Kids Put Azerbaijan on the Map
by Di Proctor

Recently, our family participated in an International Day celebration in Albany, Georgia. More than 50 children participated, showcasing 19 different countries. My children - Micah, Miranda and Benjamin - decided to put Azerbaijan on the map for some of our fellow Americans living in the state of Georgia. Their baby sister Madeline, now 4, had been adopted from Azerbaijan in 2003.

We created a display, which included some historical, political, economical and social tidbits about the country. We displayed the flag and souvenirs, which have come to mean so much to us. We played Azerbaijani music. We even offered samples of dried fruits and nuts that are so popular in Azerbaijan.

The older children participated in the International Peace Talks, sharing interesting facts about their chosen country. Afterwards we enjoyed an international feast. Our contribution was a family effort to make Pahklava - [baklava] a pastry made of thin crust, walnuts and honey.

Above (from center bottom, clockwise): Madeline, Micah, Miranda, Father Ben, Mother Di and Benjamin.

But the best part was seeing our daughter in her own element. I had made an Azerbaijani costume for Madeline. She was so charming twirling around and greeting everyone: "Salam!" She was so cute. Everyone was so interested in this new country and I was quite the proud mom. Now I want to go back to visit Azerbaijan more than ever. One day I hope that Madeline can go back and see the mystery and wonder of the land of her birth.

As we were rushing out the door for the event, Madeline looked up at me with her big, brown eyes and said, "Mommy, can Azeri Beary come, too? Please? Cause Azeri loves Baku!" And off she ran.

Life is so sweet and simple at this age. We have almost finished growing the wheat grass - our "samani" - for Novruz (First Day of Spring - March 21st). Madeline has had fun watering it. My oldest son, Benjamin wants to know why we can't add another Novruz practice to our family traditions. He wants to build a bonfire so he can jump over it like the kids do in Azerbaijan. I'll have to think about that one for awhile.

Above: Madeline as an infant with Azeri Beary shortly after arriving in the U.S.

Editor's Note: Di Proctor and her husband Ben adopted Malahat (now called Madeline) from Baku in 2003. The adoption process generally requires that the adopting family make two trips to Azerbaijan. The first one to meet the prospective child in the Baby House (orphanage) and carry out official court procedures and the second one to take the child back to live with the new family after all approvals have been signed.

On the first trip, Di decided to give little Malahat a stuffed animal, which was dressed with a little T-shirt bearing Malahat's photo. Azeri Beary was the family's promise to Malahat that they would return.

These days, it's very popular in the United States for parents to tell their adopted children about their early beginnings.

The tendency is to share such crucial information, not to hide it so the children will not later be surprised to learn of their origins later in life. Adoptive families want their children to know that they have been chosen to become a vital part of their family and that, far from being abandoned, they are dearly loved. And thus, the idea for "Azeri Beary" developed from this deep psychological need.

Read "Azeri Beary: Stuffed Animals and Adoption Realities," by Diane Proctor in AI 12.3 (Autumn 2004). Search at The article also includes the text of the story "Azeri Beary" that Di wrote in child's language describing how Madeline came to be adopted into their family. It has become Madeline's favorite bedtime story.

Above: Madeline, now 4, representing Azerbaijan at International Day in Albany, Georgia


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