Nazile married in 2004 and had thought about bringing children into the world for a while. After she had received more than 5 years of long and painful treatment, she was still no closer to her dreams.
But a year ago, she adopted a child, a girl, and she says her life has completely changed.
Nazile (names have been changed) talked to BBC Azeri about taking on the challenges and joys of children.
According to her, this process is not easy and a number of bureaucratic obstacles are created for this purpose by the authorities.
The Ministry of Health grants adoptions for children under 3 years old and the Ministry of Education supervises older children from 3 – 18 years of age.
The authority for international adoption is the Family, Women and Children Affairs Committee.
The documents necessary for citizens adopting a child are a notarized guardianship petition from the District Administration or the Department of Education, a copy of their identity card, and a copy of their marriage certificate.
In addition, according to the Ministry of Education’s official website, citizens who want to adopt a child must prove the right to use their place of residence and must also submit a document confirming the right of ownership.
Adopters are required to have additional tests other than a general check-up including Hepatitis B&C and AIDS tests and additionally, clean tests for venereal diseases, tuberculosis, cancer, neurological and drug abuse. The results should be delivered to the Commission.
The adopter must submit a biography, their occupation and salary certificate from their employer or an income document.
The Guardian and Pregnancy Commission, which works under the district and city executive authorities, requires documents regarding the living conditions of the applicant per the housing inspection act.
Our interviewee says she adopted a child under three years old and she prepared the same aforementioned documents.
Nazile spoke about her five-year treatment process. According to her, the doctors offered her a final decision—artificial insemination—which would cost 6,000 – 7,000 manat, so she gave up.
“There’s nowhere in the world that guarantees a successful artificial insemination procedure the first time around. For this reason, the procedure is repeated several times and we didn’t have enough money to do this,” says Nazile of her decision to adopt. She adds, “there are a lot of children deprived of parental care and need a mother, and I needed a child.”
The interviewee said her husband did not protest it, and he gathered all the necessary documents to apply to the local authorities, she says.
“I knew I wanted to have a child. I think only children can love their parents unconditionally and vice versa. After my mother died, only a child could have filled that emptiness,” she says.
Nazile is not dissatisfied with the adoption procedures in Azerbaijan and thinks that all of these documents are important for the growth of children in a safe family.
A Tedious Process
But there was a problem at Baku Main Health Department of the Ministry of Health during registration.
“After we had prepared all the documents to be submitted to the Commission, it became clear that we needed another health certificate for hepatitis and HIV,” she says. Nazile’s hepatitis C test came back positive.
Nazile was retested for Hepatitis C in both London and Georgia and the results showed she was not sick, but a carrier. However, these analyses took a year.
“I was telling the commission over and over that I wasn’t sick, but they were telling me I had to get treatment and to think of my own health. After a year, I was able to tell them that I was just a carrier. After that, they told me I had to bring a document to prove it”, Nazile said.
“This is a real, serious bureaucracy. They made me wait a year to tell me one sentence.”
When Nazile brought the required documents and handed them over to the department, she was told that the papers were now invalid. Within three days, she should have collected all of the documents and have them registered.
After registration, our interviewee would have to wait a year. She says when she called the Baku Main Health Department for information about her place on the waiting list, she never received a reply.
After addressing the ministry through official channels, the family still had not received an answer, so they began sending letters of complaint to the ministry and the president. After a year, they got a phone call telling them there was a child they were able to adopt.
“We fell in love with the child the first time we saw her,” Nazile said. They had to wait three months to complete the process through the court.
After returning from the court, they were the parents of an eight-month-old girl. “Our suffering is over,” Nazile said.
“In November it will be a year since she came into our lives. I’ve already forgotten that I didn’t give birth to her,” Nazile says happily.
According to Nazile, no one connected with the case wanted a bribe from her or her husband during the procedure. But she adds that because they couldn’t pay money, the registration took very long.
“We met once a week with the child during the trial. At that time, there were other parents like us. I’m in touch with the other families who want to adopt and who are waiting on a list. They paid 3,000 – 5,000 manat to bump themselves up in the line”, she said.
The Ministry of Health spokesman said that such a practice did not exist.
“Giving or taking a bribe is criminal,” said the spokesman. He doesn’t believe there is corruption in this area.
Society’s Attitude Towards Adoption
Our interviewee says society thinks adoption is abnormal.
According to her, during the process of collecting their documents, a number of health workers asked if there were any children from their own family that they could adopt or why they would abandon their inheritance to someone else’s child.
“What would I do with a child who already has a mother and father? I want to adopt a child who needs to be taken care of. It’s not a matter of genetics how a child is raised. It’s an issue of guiding them,” Nazile says.
She also stresses that family members were against them in this case.
“Society is not ready for it,” said the interviewee, “and people are always ready to utter hurtful things.”
“They annoy me. They see what a wonderful job I’m doing. No one thinks the child has brought anything to our family. They say I will be rewarded in the hereafter. It’s not clear if the child is a blessing because she brought so much color into my life or if I’m her blessing for adopting her.”
Nazile says they won’t hide the adoption from their daughter.
“As soon as possible, she will know. Before we do that, we should go to counseling,” she says.
Nazile says that society has to change a lot of its preconceived notions about adoption, but the government has to do its part as well.
”The government should change its attitude towards orphaned children. It would be good if they could adopt children out before the age of three. If they don’t, it’s very hard. Can’t we give them an education and good living conditions?”
Our interviewer asked this question previously about the best age for adoption. Nazile added that children who are not adopted by this age are “abandoned to their fates.”
“If even the government treats its homeless children like this, society will behave the same way,” she adds.
It was not possible to receive foreign adoption statistics from the Ministries of Health or Education.
The spokesperson of Family Women and Children Affairs says the organization has been participating in inter-country adoptions since 2008.
During this time, the organization has received more than 100 applications.
Spokesman Elgun Safarov said that about 50% of these applications were approved.
According to him, the applicants come from the US and Russia among others, and there are about three or four cases per year.
The company spokesman, said most of the applicants are Azerbaijanis who are also foreign nationals.
“I note that foreigners adopt children who were otherwise rejected for disabilities or other problems,” said Mr Safarov. To most, the gender of the child is not important, but the age of the child is; they preferred children three years old or younger.
This article was originally published by the
BBC Azerbaijani Service.