High Five: A Suburban Adoption Story HotDocs13 Review

Posted 4 years ago by myetvmedia

This is a deeply moving story about the joy and agony of a family as they deal with the challenges of adoption. Cathy and Martin Ward live in BC, rendered childless by an accident they decide to work with an agency in the Ukraine to adopt a child. They are not quite prepared for what will come next.

A one income family they never envisioned that their decision to adopt one child would lead to an international drama that will escalate to a family commitment to adopting five siblings ranging in age from six to seventeen. All the children are in need of a loving home but time is moving fast and over the course of the film the older children change remarkably. Their stories are really the more fascinating as they enter the scene after already having a previous complicated history. Since they are older they also face more challenges in trying to adjust to the realities of a whole new family relationship and a whole new culture.

Filmmaker Julia Ivanova undertakes four-years of documentary research and filming, examining the highs and lows of this couples challenges dealing with international adoption procedures, the personal emotional and financial tolls. This is a timely film about family, culture clash and assimilation. We are introduced to Martin and Cathy Ward, who we follow as they struggle with international laws, language barriers, internal strife and lack of financial resources. This documentary does not avoid the problems of adoption, highlighting the legal, financial and internal difficulties faced by the parents and their new children. Some assimilate to Canadian life better than others, some struggle with greater challenges, to find their place within a new family and country. The focus is initially on the first children adopted, Aloyna and Snezhana. These children adapt readily to their new situation. Then the focus shifts to Sergei and Yuliya, the eldest, who face their own problems. Where do they go next. Do they stay in Canada, or do they return home? Where is home?

The split between younger and older, home and away, is nicely illustrated, but it can be rather heavy-handed at times. Ivanova knows when to let the camera linger and when to ask pertinent questions. Perhaps more questions could have been asked, but Ivanova prefers to show events as they unfold and leaves it to us to draw our own conclusions.

A powerful film that asks important, deep questions about your concept of family and home.

Donal O’Connor

Gallery

  • High Five A Suburban Adoption Saga
  • High Five A Suburban Adoption Saga
  • High Five A Suburban Adoption Saga
  • High Five A Suburban Adoption Saga
  • High Five A Suburban Adoption Saga
  • High Five A Suburban Adoption Saga

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