January 23, 2018
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  • In Changfu Chang’s “The Return,” one set of parents waits in the place Kati has always called home as she goes to a bridge in Hangzhou to meet another set of parents who wait for her in the home left long ago.
    In Changfu Chang’s “The Return,” one set of parents waits in the place Kati has always called home as she goes to a bridge in Hangzhou to meet another set of parents who wait for her in the home left long ago.
  • Lida and his wife, Fenxiang, sought to reunite with their daughter after they were forced to abandon her in a vegetable market due to threats from the Chinese government.
    Lida and his wife, Fenxiang, sought to reunite with their daughter after they were forced to abandon her in a vegetable market due to threats from the Chinese government.
  • In Changfu Chang’s “The Return,” one set of parents waits in the place Kati has always called home as she goes to a bridge in Hangzhou to meet another set of parents who wait for her in the home left long ago.
    In Changfu Chang’s “The Return,” one set of parents waits in the place Kati has always called home as she goes to a bridge in Hangzhou to meet another set of parents who wait for her in the home left long ago.
  • In Changfu Chang’s “The Return,” one set of parents waits in the place Kati has always called home as she goes to a bridge in Hangzhou to meet another set of parents who wait for her in the home left long ago.
    In Changfu Chang’s “The Return,” one set of parents waits in the place Kati has always called home as she goes to a bridge in Hangzhou to meet another set of parents who wait for her in the home left long ago.

Documentary “The Return” Makes Debut On BBC

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December 5, 2017

Severna Park Filmmaker Shares Story Of Separated Families

Independent filmmaker Changfu Chang moved to Severna Park in 2016 and already he has big news to share with the community: His documentary “The Return” is coming to BBC.

Steeped in romantic folklore, the Broken Bridge in Hangzhou, China is a major tourist attraction that draws tens of millions of visitors each year to the shores of West Lake. Since 2004, a man named Xu Lida has braved the throngs to return to the bridge every year on the same day. But he is no ordinary tourist taking in the sights. Arriving early in the morning and staying until late in the afternoon, Lida scans the faces in the crowd, hoping to see a strange yet familiar face — the one of the daughter lost so long ago.

Since China began international adoptions in the early 1990s, adoptive parents have little information about their child’s birth family. Birth parents in China often leave no identifying information and disappear without a trace after relinquishing their children. The lack of knowledge about their origins leaves many adoptees with a void that leads to the desire to find their roots, especially as they come of age and grapple with their identity. But birth parents searches in China are difficult at best and with so few found to date, there is little advice for dealing with the emotional complexity surrounding the rare times a birth family is found. The Xu and Pohler families know these emotional complexities because they have lived with it for the past 20 years.

Lida and his wife, Fenxiang, told BBC Our World that after marrying in 1992 and welcoming their first daughter, they decided to have another child so that their eldest child wouldn’t be lonely without a sibling.

But giving their eldest a sibling would violate the one-child policy, a measure introduced by the Chinese government in 1979 to control its soaring population growth. Disobeying this rule resulted in harsh punishments, including steep fines, loss of property, forced abortion and sterilization.

When Fenxiang’s pregnancy was discovered in her fifth month, family planning officials demanded an abortion and threatened to tear down their home. But according to Fenxiang, “The baby’s life was already formed. I couldn’t abort it.” So Lida and Fenxiang decided to start a life on the run to give birth to their child, even if it meant giving her to someone else.

They hid on a boat on the river where Fenxiang gave birth to their daughter. Three days later, Lida took their baby to a vegetable market where he kissed the sleeping baby gently as he knew it was farewell. But he didn’t just leave her with a kiss — he also left a note.

To learn the rest of the story, check out “The Return.”

Air Times

BBC World News will air “The Return” on the following days and times. More showing times can be found at the BBC website.

  • December 8 (4:30pm, 7:30pm)
  • December 9 (6:30am)
  • December 10 (12:30pm, 7:30pm)
  • December 13 (7:30pm)
  • December 15 (5:30am)
  • December 19 (7:30pm)
  • December 20 (5:30am)

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