A Bigger World
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.
center bottom, clockwise):
Madeline, Micah, Miranda, Father Ben, Mother Di and Benjamin.
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.
Madeline as an infant with
Azeri Beary shortly after arriving in the U.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
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 AZER.com.
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
Above: Madeline, now 4, representing Azerbaijan
at International Day in Albany, Georgia
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