Media analysis: Russian orphans and American parents.

by Claire Staley

The initial controversy surrounding the seven-year old Russian orphan rejected by his adopted American mother has died down. Though the incident sparked national outrage, the Russian government has declined to freeze adoptions to the United States. This BBC article delves deeper into the dynamics surrounding the adoption of Russian children by American parents.

Rejected by his adopted mother, Artyem Savilev was sent back to Moscow alone. Photo credit: ABC news.

The article focuses on a Pennsylvanian couple and their four children–all adopted from Russia. Though the family has adjusted the difficulties associated with adoption, parents Mike and Julie Jones recall their struggles and problems with the process.

The structure of the story follows the patented (and delicious) kebab form. The focus on the Jones family is the juicy hook that draws the reader in. Context is already provided, considering the reader has heard about the strained relations concerning adoption between the US and Russia. Highlighting the Jones family creates the human element, allowing the audience to connect with the issue on a personal level, and speaks to a past news event.

After the family and their children are introduced, the author switches gears to discuss the larger issue at hand: problems with the Russian adoption process. Russia is one of only three countries that has failed to ratify the Hague adoption convention, creating problems with transparency and disclosure to prospective parents. The Jones family experienced this first-hand with the adoption of their daughter Abby,

In the first videos her future parents saw, Abby looked like a sweet timid child. The couple expected some challenges but didn’t realise how much Abby suffered from attachment disorder.

After the adoption was completed, the orphanage gave the couple more videos showing a very different child – much angrier, almost menacing.

The Jones’ situation is contextualized by some brief history surrounding American adoptions of Russian children, as well as current political negotiations between the two countries to establish a more reliable and refined system to find homes for the former Soviet Republic’s orphans. This is the “meat” of the story, the news aspect that pertains to a wider experience than just one family.

To wrap the story up, the author returns neatly to where the article began: with the Jones family.

But for the Jones family, back in Pennsylvania, it is a happy ending.

“We’re not getting a fifth,” said Julie, laughing, “but no, we have no regrets.”


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