Just like an integral ballroom dance, the dance of attachment between a parent and their newly adopted child is both difficult to do and so beautiful to watch. In this film we get the rare opportunity to meet a family prior to their adoption, as they prepare to bring home three children from Russian orphanages – Masha who is 11 and twins, Marcel and Vadim, who are 5. The fascinating thing is that the family began working with Dr. Robert Marvin of the Mary D. Ainsworth Child-Parent Attachment Clinic in Virginia before their adoption. So from the beginning, Dr. Marvin is able to observe and counsel this family as they learn this new dance.
The film explores attachment and intersperses film of Dr. Harlow’s experiments on monkeys with Dr. Marvin’s insight about the emotional and relational challenges of growing up in an orphanage. Masha is an incredible example of a child who inhibits her emotions – putting up formidable walls to her new parents’ advances at love and nurturing. This is especially seen in her interactions with her new mother, Cheryl. Dr. Marvin explains why the child’s interaction with the mother is always more challenging, and at the same time they find that Cheryl has things from her own childhood that make this attachment dance more difficult for her as well.
The twins…well, they’re a handful! Anyone who has parented a disinhibited child will be amused when the film translates what the boys are saying to and about their father as he attempts to discipline them.
But this is really no laughing matter. Learning to create a nurturing, yet structured therapeutic home is not as simple as those who have not done it might think. And it takes its toll on everyone. Bio daughter Cami feels displaced, dad Claudio is tired’ and mom Cheryl’s pain is palpable.
Yet, even in only a few months there are rays of hope. Dr. Marvin’s staff continues to work with the family, coaching and guiding them. And Masha begins to show signs of connecting – really connecting with her family.
Families who have been living with significant impacts of early childhood trauma and attachment disorders might view this film as “downplaying” the challenges. But the beauty of this film is that it follows the Diaz family from the beginning – pre-adoptively. And shows their challenges, including the grief, loss and need for everyone in the family to adjust…changing expectations and actively learning to do this new dance.
It’s a great film to view with family and friends, because it presents many opportunities for discussing the importance of attachment and the special needs of traumatized children.
You can order your own copy of The Dark Matter of Love here.
The Dark Matter of Love will be shown at the following NATA Day viewing parties:
- June 19 @ 9:30 am – Richmond, VA
- June 19 @7 pm – Powder Springs, GA – Contact Rachel for more information
- June 19 @7 pm – Lexington, KY – Contact Jane for more information
- June 22@7 pm – Springfield Center, NY – Contact Debra for more information.
- June 26 – Dallas, TX – Contact Gari for more information.
- June 26@noon – Henrico, VA