THE RUSSIAN WORD FOR SNOW by Janis Cooke Newman

THE RUSSIAN WORD FOR SNOW

A True Story of Adoption
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

An undistinguished account of an American couple’s travails in adopting a Russian baby.

First-time author Newman pads the bits and pieces of her adoption saga that have appeared in magazines and Internet publications (among them Salon) to make a sometimes genial, sometimes arch narrative. She writes affectingly of her failure to conceive naturally and of her decision to seek a child for adoption in Russia, a country her adoption agency’s brochure warned was "bleak and degenerating. Delays are to be expected. . . . It is not uncommon for adoptions to be stalled or never completed.” Newman and her husband found those words to be resoundingly true as they filled out mountains of forms, paid bribes and tips, and blundered from one bureaucrat’s desk to another. Eventually they found a candidate, an undernourished infant boy who had been abandoned in a Moscow hospital three days after his birth to a Ukrainian mother and immediately placed in an orphanage. “Because it was still winter,” Newman writes, “they chose for his last name the Russian word for snow.” Led through the process of bringing young Grisha (renamed Alex) out of the orphanage by a guide whose hand constantly reached for the American couple’s hard currency, the Newmans came close to losing their patience and giving up on the whole project; in the end, Newman’s story nearly collapses under the weight of the couple’s frustration at the unfamiliar intricacies of an alien adoption system—and Newman seems to consider it an injustice that the Russian government prefers to place the orphaned or abandoned infants under its charge in the care of Russian families rather than of foreigners, no matter how well-intended.

Although of some interest to would-be adoptive parents looking outside the US for a child, this falls mostly flat.

Pub Date: March 7th, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-25214-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2001




SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

IndieTHE OTHER SIDE OF AN ADOPTION by Maria  Franco
by Maria Franco