Xu Lida and his wife, Fenxiang, went to great lengths to save their unborn daughter’s life under China’s oppressive one-child policy.
They spent just three days with Kati after she was born, and then gave her up with the hope that she would find a better life with an adoptive family.
The BBC recently reported the amazing story of how Kati, who was adopted by a Michigan couple, and her birth family reunited after being separated for 20 years.
Her story is a reminder of the oppression families suffer under China’s harsh population control measures, the almost unbelievable lengths some parents will go through to protect their child and the amazing love of family, whether biological or adoptive.
Here’s more from the report:
Lida and his wife Fenxiang told the BBC 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.”
The couple went to great lengths to keep their unborn daughter safe. According to the report, they ran away from home, moving from community to community to escape family planning officials who might force them to abort their baby girl. Eventually, they said they hid on a river boat where Fenxiang gave birth to Kati.
Lida said they left Kati in a vegetable market several days later with the hope that someone would find her and care for her. Lida remembered leaving his daughter with a kiss and a note to reassure her of their love.
The Suzhou Social Welfare Institute cared for Kati for about a year before a Michigan couple, Ruth and Ken Pohler, adopted her, according to the report. They also received the note that Lida wrote to his daughter.
“If God has sympathy for us and you care about us, let’s meet on the Broken Bridge on the West Lake in Hangzhou on the morning of Chinese lunar date July 7th in 10 or 20 years,” he concluded.
And every year on that date since 2004, Lida said he has visited the bridge to wait for his daughter.
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“I knew there wasn’t much hope, but I still kept waiting,” he told the BBC.
About 10 years ago, the Pohlers sent a messenger to connect with Lida and Fenxiang. They made an initial connection but did not tell Kati.
The report continues:
While the birth family was happy for the connection, the Pohlers were overwhelmed when faced with something that most in the Chinese adoption community were told was impossible. Ken was “stunned” and Ruth was “petrified” as they grappled for the first time with the reality of sharing their daughter with someone else. After much thought, they decided to wait to share the information with Kati, but let the birth parents know that she was well cared for and deeply loved by her adoptive parents.
When Kati, now 20, began asking a lot of questions about her birth family last year, Ken and Ruth told her about the letter and her birth parents. The matter caused some tension between them, and the Pohlers said they now regret not telling their daughter sooner. However, they said they love her deeply and are happy that she can connect with her birth parents now.
Faithfully, Lida continued to spent every July 7 on the bridge, hoping someday to finally meet Kati. Earlier this year, he and his wife did. Kati traveled to China to meet Lida, Fenxiang and her sister. It was a deeply emotional meeting that the BBC captured on film.
“I think there were just a lot of small moments when I saw how much they cared,” Kati said of the trip.
Returning home, she continued: “The love is almost overwhelming. I know my adoptive parents love me, and now I have this whole other love that I never knew existed but I guess was always there.”