A new documentary that follows the lives of three Russian orphans adopted by American parents will be screened at the Moscow International Film Festival. The filmmaker, Sarah McCarthy, hopes the film will build support to end the ban on Russian adoptions to the United States.
McCarthy never set out to make a political documentary, she explained to The Christian Post. There was no adoption ban when she began the film, "The Dark Matter of Love." It follows the adoption of three Russian children, 11-year-old Masha (11) and five-year-old twin brothers Marcel and Vadim, by the Diaz family – Claudio, Cheryl, and their 15-year-old daughter, Cami.
Parenting adopted kids presents its own unique challenges, which the film makes clear. Kids raised in orphanages tend toward two extremes, Dr. Robert Marvin, a developmental and clinical psychology expert who helps families who adopt orphans, explains in the film. They generally deal with emotion through one of two extremes: frequents outbursts – viewers get a taste of this with Marcel and Vadim's profanity-laden tantrums; or, they shut down all emotion, as Masha expertly demonstrates.
"Sometimes I just feel bad," Masha says in Russian. "But I don't want to confide in anybody. Some people even cry when they are sad but I would never cry. I want everyone to think that I am happy."
Normal human development requires a mom and dad, Marvin explains. Besides the emotional problems, kids raised in orphanages have lower than average IQ's. But humans are also adaptable, he says. The question for Marcel, Vadim and Masha is whether they can adapt. Whether they can make the switch from life in an orphanage to life with a mom and dad. By the end of the film, viewers are able to witness the transformation made possible through adoption.
The Russian adoption ban is never mentioned in the documentary but the implications are obvious. Their are approximately 300 Russian orphans who already have American parents who started the process of adoption, but were cut off by the ban. They will never have the opportunity to experience the transformation experienced by Marcel, Vadim and Masha, if Russia does not allow those adoptions to be completed. Many more will also miss the same opportunities if the ban remains in place.
One hundred and fifty four members of Congress have signed a letter urging President Barack Obama to make the adoption ban a priority when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin this month.
McCarthy hopes her film will aid the effort to reverse the ban, or at least let the 300 who were already being processed to join their families.
"I spent two years with Masha during the making of the film and I witnessed the difference that the love a family can make to a child who has grown up in a Russian orphanage," McCarthy said. "The thought that 300 children just like Mash are stuck because of this ban tears my heart out. I'm compelled to use my film in anyway I can to bring these children home."
Russians will be able to see the film for the first time this month at the Moscow Film Festival. McCarthy is also trying to raise enough money, through a Kickstarter campaign, to be able to tour the film across Russia and the United States.
The documentary is also being promoted through social media with a Twitter feed and Facebook page, and it is helping a Change.org petition asking the Russian government to allow the 300 adoptions that were in process to be completed. You can view a clip from the documentary below.