Great Adoption Documentary on BBC

(27 Posts)
Lilka Thu 31-Oct-13 09:49:35

It's called 'The Dark Matter of Love', it was on BBC4 last night, so get it on iPlayer for the next week

It filmed an adoption throughout its first year, with a scientist and adoption therapist helping the family and assessing their relationships, their were clips of science experiments and scientists from the 20's onwards interspersed throughout, to show how understanding of parent-child love has changed over the years. I can't actually see the point of a few of those soundbites (the ducks for example) but I was fascinated seeing the footage of the monkey experiment because I read about it years ago.

What made it so powerful (for me) wasn't the science bit of love, it was the family themselves. They were an American couple with a 14 year old birth daughter, who went to Russia and adopted 3 children at once - Masha (11), Marcel and Vadim (5 year old twin brothers). Don't think Masha and the boys are biologically related.

It was raw and very emotional in parts. Didn't shy away from filming the early days, when the parents wondered if they had done the right thing, and were totally exhausted and overwhelmed. 14 year old was out of place, and felt she'd been 'usurped'. The boys and Masha have various difficulties with emotions/behaviour. There were very emotional scenes throughout, though it ended with the family in a better place than before, and moving forwards together

Watch it! But have some tissues handy

Thanks Lilka sounds fab.

I wonder if anyone else has adopted two at once when they already have a child/children?

allthingswillpass Thu 31-Oct-13 17:31:26

Very interesting. Thanks Lilka!

Watching it now Lilka it is very moving. Can't believe they did not let the older Russian lady adopt Masha.

I can't quite believe they 'took on three' at the same time from a different country, presumably not knowing the language and with a 14 year old birth child! I hope it is all going to work out but I feel it is a massive task!

Blimey that was amazing!

PenguinBear Thu 31-Oct-13 21:26:30

Sounds fab I'll get on I player smile

Lilka Thu 31-Oct-13 23:03:26

I almost cried when Masha's carer waved her off at the airport. I felt so sad for them.

To be honest Masha herself reminded me in many ways of DD1. The way she tried not to feel emotions, very similar. Then she said that she doesn't cry, and it really reminded me of DD1, who also never cried. (One of DD1's nicknames is 'Mary Lennox' which I coined quite soon after she came home, because she needed control, kept me at bay by being rude and just personified that quote from the film "I was angry, but I never cried. I didn't know how to cry". That might make me sound horrible, but honestly I'm not, we both love our silly nicknames and enjoy them and DD calls herself Mary on occasion for a laugh)

So the similarities made it even more emotional for me

The language barrier was definitely a major issue - that moment where Masha leaped on the bed and said something like "this is the biggest bed I've ever seen in my life" and her new Dad goes something like "Yeah great!...whatever that meant" was very...I don't know, a powerful moment for me. Followed up by those moments where the kids were yelling, "you r*t*rd" and "smell my shitty shocks", Dad again totally clueless

Yes they came across as very idealistic and quite naive at the start...and adopting 3 older children, or more like, 2 sets of children since the boys and Masha weren't related, all at once, always going to be a massively tall order. But then, i have to admit that I was naive before I adopted DD1...maybe I had more of an excuse since there was much less knowledge and material about trauma back then coupled with no internet and no adoption books in the library to research with, but still, I was naive. We all stop being naive very quickly

SoonToBeSix Thu 31-Oct-13 23:51:38

I really don't think the dad comes across very well at all.

I'm watching it now
I may have just cried at the sight of them riding the lawn mower with the lad who had been terrified wearing a pink bike helmet

I must admit at the beginining when the psychologist bloke said, it's not my job to tell them not to do it, I wanted to shout at the TV, Tell them not to do it! but really it seemed to work well. The people I was most worried about were the birh daughter and Masha, I felt that those 3 years were very small age difference at that age of 14 and 11. The bit where she is playing the piano and Masha kind of takes over was sad but yes Lilka when Masha's 'foster mum' Lupa (?) said goodbye was awful.

Yet amazingly it seemed to work. Or is there more of the series, do we see them again or different families?

BettyBotter Fri 01-Nov-13 21:05:31

I watched too (not an adopter but some familiarity with some of the issues).

I was pretty shocked that this family were allowed to take on 3 unrelated children at the same time. Is that acceptable even in America? Each one of those children needed such intense support that even the 2 boys being adopted into a family with an older birth child in the family seemed a crazy decision, let alone with another older sibling being taken on at the same time.

The focus seemed to be much more on Masha's needs but I felt the boys were in danger of being overlooked in the chaos. The clip where one brother asked the other in Russian 'are they sending us back?' just showed how enormous the gulf in understanding between the self-styled Disney parents and those little boys was.

Heart rending. I didn't believe the apparently happy ending was really quite what it seemed.

girliefriend Fri 01-Nov-13 21:14:29

I watched and was amazed that anyone would think adopting 3 children at once from a different country/ culture would be a good idea.

I think there is also a certain arrogance of Americans that these kids are so lucky to have been adopted out of their country hmm I guess only time will tell.

I think it is very sad that Masha couldn't have been adopted by her 'Grandma' as they clearly had a close bond.

I thought the dad was a bit of an idiot tbh and felt very uncomfortable when he was pinning one of the 3yo to the bed, I was watching thinking wtaf?! Let the boy go.

Would be interested to catch up with this family in 2 years.

Betty I was pretty shocked too, that they even thought of it. But it seems to have worked out well. The photos I have seen of them make them look like a normal happy family, which is pretty amazing after the start they had.

I thought that there was so much that was amazing in that documentary, apparently it took a year and a half to film! And now children are not allowed to be adopted out of Russia to the USA and 300 children who were due to be adopted are stuck. I am not big fan of the USA but I am pretty sure I would rather be in the USA with a family than in Russia without one.

moveablefest.com/moveable_fest/2013/09/dark-matter-love-sarah-mccarthy.html

MrsBW Sat 02-Nov-13 18:16:20

I just can't believe the differences between the UK and USA

3 children adopted at the same time even though not all siblings
Family didn't appear to speak any Russian/do anything to promote their culture
Massive welcome party at the airport?

It just seems worlds away from what we've been told is/isn't ok in adoption...

Thanks so much Lilka for highlighting the documentary... Was very useful.

lookatmycameltoe Sat 02-Nov-13 18:22:23

I thought the mother looked very unhealthy and looked so obese as to be on the verge of a heart attack or stroke. Her life expectancy must be greatly reduced. I'm surprised her BMI wasn't an issue. A shame and very risky for those children to cope with so much loss and then lose their mother.

A can't believe they as a family were allowed to take on so much, they seemed very naive. I really felt for their daughter whose life was turned upside down.

I hope it works out, they had all the material trappings to offer children, not sure they had the emotional.

Lilka Sat 02-Nov-13 19:54:35

MrsBW oh definitely a lot of differences. I see them on another forum I read all the time. Obviously the final say on what you are allowed to do is up to the adoption agency, but whilst some agencies have stricter rules, some will permit adoption of unrelated children at the same time, adoption out of birth order, and may have more lax requirements about weight etc. I see families who have adopted (this is from foster care as well as internationally) sibling groups of 6 at once, unrelated children at the same time, an older sibling group whilst having small birth children, in some areas people can accept lots of foster placements so wind up with say 5 foster kids aged 3,2,2,1 and 1 and then all the placements go to adoption so then they have 5 adopted kids all aged under 5 etc. I don't know how some of thhese families make it work, I'm in awe of the ones who do make it all work out, but it's such a huge huge risk to take.

I do sympathise with wanting a large family, because my dream was always 4 children. I've managed 3 and there's STILL a part of me that wants my 4th child. What I don't understand is why they had to go from 1 to 4 at once. Going 1 at a time over a few years is much less riskier and easier emotionally on everybody.

The airport welcome parties are really common, that's just a cultural difference I think, although I do feel sorry for the children. That welcome party was relatively small, I've seen pictures of much larger ones, where everyone wants to come and meet the new child/children and maybe give them a hug as well. Very overwhelming for the poor kids.

To be honest, I highly doubt most UK international adopters know more than a little basic Russian/Chinese/whichever language. People don't usually plan adoption for years and years, which is how long it would take to gain any level of fluency in a foreign language unless you're naturally very talented at learning languages. You might start learning once you start homestudy, but that's not going to make you fluent.

Lilka what did you think of the dad holding down the boys to calm them, is that a recognsied thing for over energetic kids? I'm sure I have heard of it before but am not necessarily a fan.

I did think they had amazing optimism, which I think is possibly a key ingredient in adoption! Or am I wrong, I am not yet an adopter!!

Italian I thought the same. I felt a bit uncomfortable, not solely the holding down, but that, combined with the fact that he didn't know what the little one was saying to him made me feel it wasn't "right" . Don't know how I'd react in the situation though!
I thought that the dad was so loving to them but the mom seemed in shock. It couldn't have been easy for her especially how she was doing most of the looking after.
Very interesting though.

I wonder if he needed to be restrained because he was hurting himself or his brother. I kind of feel I would feel OK about that but if it was just a temper tantrum I would not. I certainly found a hug and an I love you can curb the beginings of a tantrum in an older child but not once it fully gets going!

Just watched it again! I love the Mother's Day but, and the boys wetting their bums on the garden hose, and Masha and Cami in the car on the way to the concert. Such a lovely documentary.

Meita Sun 03-Nov-13 12:27:14

Very interesting documentary.

One thing that struck me was that there was no interaction (shown) between Masha and the twin boys. Even given that the focus of the documentary was on Masha and not on the boys, it seems to me that the fact of their presence and their adoption at the same time must have been hugely important to Masha's experiences. I could imagine all sorts of things happening - Masha and the boys competing against each other for their parents' attention/love; them joining forces against the others, building on their shared language; them totally ignoring each other; in any case it would have been interesting. I can imagine that being adopted at the same time as some other kids might add to a feeling of being a commodity, of being adopted purely for the parents' sake, for them being able to create their dream/ideal of a family, rather than for the children's sakes.

On the pinning down bit, it's hard to judge without knowing the full story. I do think that in some cases it is better to physically restrict a child, stopping them from doing something, rather than watching/allowing them to do it and then disciplining them for it. Further, a child who is out of control might simply NEED physical restraining. And these 5yo must at times needed to be treated as much younger children, so it is really hard to say without knowing the full story of what exactly happened, and similar patterns of behaviour in the past, and what other methods the parents had already tried and perhaps found not to work.
Like, right in the beginning they seemed to be using some kind of time-out system, personally I found that less than ideal, and it seemed that it wasn't working. So they might have tried a range of approaches before coming to use (at times) physical restraint.

Meita good point about the non-interation shown between the boys and Masha.

Also, just as an aside not sure why her name was translated as Masha and not Mosha! It certainly sounded more like Mosha to my ears and would have been in the Russian (which is a form of the Cyrillic script)!

I wondered why Cloudio called her Maria at the start, now I know why.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masha

Kewcumber Sun 03-Nov-13 14:14:03

Masha is the transliteration of a Russian name - it s the diminutive of Maria

Kewcumber Sun 03-Nov-13 14:18:40

Sorry I see you worked that out!

I have used "holding" with DS when he was having uncontrollable meltdowns - its a version (in our house) of "time in" instead of time out. I used holding when he was being violent and physically holding him on my lap was the only way to calm him down. Leaving him to himself just lead to escalation. But I have discovered subsequently that DS is most likely sensory seeking so anchoring him physically to me worked well for us.

Not sure I would have done it very early on though.

It is difficult to compare UK vs US - they have such a different cultural approach to what is considered advisable re adoption. Sometimes what they do makes me wince but in the majority of cases it works out - unfortunately the minority of cases where it doesn;t work can be spectacularly awful. There is a much bigger adoption community on teh US to provide support though so maybe that helps.

Kewcumber Sun 03-Nov-13 14:19:37

I learnt Russian fairly dedicatedly for 3 years and was considered to be a pretty decent student and I wasn't even at the foothills of being fluent - I could just about get by without starving to death whilst I was out there.

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