Family Portrait in Black and White follows a passionate Supermom, Olga Nenya, during three turbulent years that see her brood of 17 foster children grow into rambunctious teenagers. Olga is a loving mother but she is no Mother Teresa. Raised by the Soviet regime, she believes in communal responsibility over individual freedom and runs the family with a Stalinist determination.
Olga does not see color or creed of her foster children of whom 16 are bi-racial, results of amorous relationships between local Ukrainian girls and African students. As a single mother, Olga fights tooth and nail to keep her family together and to give it strength and support with sometimes overbearing control. Olga’s limits are tested daily and her unwavering resolve becomes a refuge for some children and prison for others.
“When the kids grow up, at least they will have a mother to blame for all the failures that will happen in their lives”. In many ways, Olga’s words sum up the immense value of living with a Mother, ideal or not, biological or adoptive, versus being raised in the best orphanage where a child calls every caregiver “a mom” and might have twenty moms without knowing what a MOTHER is.