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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Consuming culture, creating memory : how American parents relate to Russian adoptees

  • Author(s): Hall, Ceridwen Leith
  • et al.

International adoption has influenced the way many Americans, both adoptive parents and those who know them, imagine and envision families. Due to a variety of economic and social factors, a large proportion of international adoptees arriving in the United States over the past two decades have come from Russia. Many of their adoptive parents, who traveled to Russia--most for the first time--to meet and adopt them, have become deeply interested in learning about Russia and finding celebratory ways to gesture towards their children's Russianness during the course of family life. As they begin relating to their children, parents are often concerned with a concept of Russian culture that is highly material--and at times even appears to be partially biologically based-- encompassing mainly visible and tangible elements that can be consumed and shared by entire families. In this thesis, I analyze material from interviews with and blogs written by mothers who have adopted from Russia. These families use their ideas about Russian culture and their consumption of highly visible, tangible, and accessible items as a way of simultaneously representing--even celebrating--and domesticating children's difference, acknowledging but also attempting to collapse perceived distances between parents and children

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