While adoption isn’t for everyone, some couples feel that their life wouldn’t be complete without that special addition. This was the case for Ken and Ruth Pohler, a couple who welcomed a Chinese daughter into their home in the mid ’90s. However, with their daughter came a note that they would keep a secret for years to come. Only when their little girl was a grown woman who longed to meet her birth parents would they admit what was in that letter. Read on to see why these parents would hide such a thing, and why the note ultimately left their daughter with more questions than answers.
They Wanted To Adopt
Ken and Ruth Pohler were already birth parents of two boys, but they couldn’t resist their desire to adopt. The Michigan couple was open to adopting a child from anywhere. Ruth’s sister and Chinese brother-in-law had recently adopted from China.
The couple also considered China as a place to consider for adoption. Sure enough, when they looked into their options, there was a little girl in China in need of a home.
She Was Just Five Days Old
At just five days old, little Jingzhi was found bundled in a blanket, abandoned at a market in Suzhou, China. Once she was found, she was brought to a nearby institute for children.
A year later, Ken and Ruth were all set to adopt this mystery child. They met her in China and named her Kati. The happy family flew back to the states where Kati would be raised in Michigan alongside her new brothers.
Just Your Average Family
As far as anyone could tell, the Pohlers and their children were a well-adjusted, normal American family. Kati played music and did other typical activities a girl growing up in the states might do.
Being that Kati was Chinese and the rest of her family was American, it was more obvious that she was adopted but grew up without it having an impact on her daily life. She loved her parents and they loved her, so that seemed like enough.
Just Like Any American Child
Since Kati was adopted at such a young age, she only knew the American culture that she was raised in. As far as she was concerned, the biggest difference between her and her brothers was her age and the fact she was a girl.
However, her parents knew that there was something they were hiding from her. While they didn’t want to confuse her as a young child, the day came when she was a grown adult. It was time to tell the truth.
The Secret Letter
When Kati was found, a note had been attached to her. Though what was written in the letter was moving, Ken and Ruth were adamant that it remain hidden from Kati until they felt that she was old enough to handle it.
At the same time, Ken Pohler admitted that he and his wife wanted to be sure that Kati’s birth parents knew that she was being raised in a happy and safe home and that she would be taken care of. That’s why they had their friend, Anne, do some research into who this note came from.
No Longer A Child
Meanwhile, Kati was growing older and more curious every day. Eventually, she was 21 years old and eager to know who her parents were. Hoping to study abroad, Kati wanted to be able to give a certain answer when people asked about who she was.
Like any child may feel, Kati was angry when Ken and Ruth admitted that they’d known about her biological parents for some time. Though she knew that she was adopted, she didn’t know that information regarding her birth parents that had been hidden from her all this time.
A Desperate Couple
As it turns out, Kati’s birth parents were Xu Lida and Qian Fenxiang from Hangzhou, China. The couple had discovered that they were expecting their second child, another girl, despite a law that was put into place.
In order to aid with poverty and population control, couples would only be permitted to have one child. The couple considered their options, knowing that they could incur a wild amount of fees for having a second child. They hoped they might just get away with it.
Then They Decided To Run
The couple spent months consumed in paranoia. They were terrified that someone would notice Qian’s stomach and piece together the fact that she was pregnant with her second child. If this person wasn’t on their side, they would report it to the authorities.
As a precaution, the expecting mother hid in a houseboat on the Suzhou canal. She remained there, 75 miles from their hometown, for the final six weeks of her pregnancy. Then the day came when it was time for the baby to be delivered.
Complications After The Birth
With the help of her husband and a trusted friend, Qian delivered Kati on the houseboat. They would have preferred to go to a hospital in order to prevent health complications but knew that was out of the question.
The hospital would have to report the birth to the government right away, putting Kati at risk. Fortunately, the baby was healthy and safe, arriving in July of 1995. While Qian did suffer some health problems after giving birth, she was able to see a physician without revealing her secret baby.
They Couldn’t Keep Her
The couple named their second daughter Jingzhi. They knew that they could not hide her forever. Furthermore, they wouldn’t be able to afford their new child after all of the fees that the government would place on them.
Fearing that the government would take matters into their own hands, the pair decided to make the most difficult choice of their lives. Five days after their child was born, the young couple decided to leave her at a vegetable market. They knew it would be crowded and that someone would find her and bring her to the proper facilities.
They Wrote A Note
Now we come back to the aforementioned note. The young parents had only a note to explain the heartbreaking circumstances that brought them to abandoning their child at a vegetable market.
The letter detailed their daughter’s first name and birth and explained that the parents could not raise her due to poverty and the government. Assuming that their baby girl would be gone forever, they left, desperately hoping that someone would care for her as their own.
One Important Detail
The letter ended with a spark of hope that they might see Jingzhi again one day. Her parents requested that whoever finds their baby bring her to the Broken Bridge in Hangzhou the morning of the Qixi Festival in a decade or two.
Jingzhi’s parents made good on their request, waiting all day at the Broken Bridge in 2005. Meanwhile, Jingzhi, renamed Kati, was in America with her adoptive parents. But the Pohler’s hadn’t forgotten about the request, either.
The Day Had Finally Come
Ken and Ruth Pohler had devised a plan that would prevent Kati from knowing about her complicated past at just ten years old, while also reassuring her concerned birth parents. They had their friend, Annie, who often go to China for business, head to the Broken Bridge.
Unfortunately, Annie missed the couple, arriving at the bridge after they had already left. That’s when she spotted a camera crew, who managed to help connect Annie with Qian and Xu. A decade after leaving their little baby behind, they finally knew that she was okay.
Rather than coming together, the Pohlers decided that Kati’s birth parents knew enough. They instructed Annie to end communication with them. According to Ruth, she wanted Kati to decide later in life if she wanted to know her biological parents.
Knowing that their daughter was safe but being denied further access to her, Qian and Xu continued with their everyday life. They opened up a second-hand electric appliance store and were able to attain a two-bedroom home for themselves and their daughter.
They Never Gave Up
Despite being denied access to their biological daughter, the couple refused to give up. They went to the bridge every year during the Qixi Festival. Additionally, news about what happened had broken out.
The film crew that had helped Annie find Xu and Qian did a story on the girl, which eventually got around to filmmaker Chang Changfu. Coincidentally, he was set to make a documentary about children who had been adopted from China.
Hope Was Restored
Chang decided to try his own hand at tracking down Kati’s adoptive parents. His determination grew after he met with Kati’s birth parents and discovered how badly they wanted to know their daughter.
After some skillful sleuthing, Chang managed to track down the name Ken Pohler, along with a photo that matched him to the man in another photo Annie had given to Kati’s biological parents. He was able to get into touch with the Pohlers but, once again, the couple declined any involvement on behalf of Kati.
No Longer Their Decision
This back and forth had spanned some years, so the Pohlers had to face the fact that Kati was no longer under their control. Their power was officially renounced when Kati, now 21-years-old, asked about her adoption.
At last, Ruth and Ken opened up to Kati about her origins and how the past two decades had played out behind closed doors. Once Kati had absorbed all of this shocking information, she reached out to filmmaker Chang Changfu in order to set up a time to meet her biological parents.
They Finally Were Reunited
After 22 years of waiting, Kati’s biological parents were finally able to meet their grown daughter. Her father knew that it wouldn’t be enough to apologize, but her mother couldn’t help but beg Kati for forgiveness.
Qian first exclaimed in Mandarin that she was sorry and commented on how much they look alike. However, she quickly realized that Kati could not understand her since she only spoke English and did not speak a word of Mandarin.
Despite feeling overwhelmed, Kati agreed to stay with her birth parents and the sister she didn’t even know existed. The family struggled to communicate with one another but were at least able to share a meal.
In the two days that Kati stayed with them, she was also able to meet her grandmother, who simply took Kati’s hand in her own. Finally able to understand the broken system that her parents were confined to, Kati recalled having several moments where she was able to finally see how much her biological parents care for her.
She Discovered Her Origin
As the pieces fell together, Kati began to see the extreme poverty that her parents had constantly faced and how different her upbringing had been due to the circumstances. While she was not able to immediately see Xu and Qian as her birth parents, she could at least understand where they were coming from all of this time.
Kati admits that it’s both a good and confusing thing that she knows more about where she comes from. While her upbringing was completely void of Asian culture, she now can put together the parts of her that were previously absent.
This Couple Adopted A One-Year-Old Child And Later Discovered A Secret About Her Past
In 1997, Ron and Natalie Trecroce knew it was time for them to expand their family. They had been living together as a married couple in Canada for a few years, and since they got married, they had been trying to conceive a child.
Like many couples around the world, Ron and Natalie realized that they wouldn’t be able to have a biological child due to a whole bunch of fertility issues. They decided that wasn’t going to hold them back from starting a family, though.
It Wasn’t Easy Turning To Adoption
Ron and Natalie were heartbroken about the fact that Natalie couldn’t get pregnant, but they knew that they were destined to become parents. They started thinking about different ways that they could create a family of their own.
Back in the late 1990s, surrogacy wasn’t as popular or efficient as it is now. Ron and Natalie liked the idea of giving a child in need a place to call home. It seemed like a natural fit for them to begin the adoption process but they had no idea it would set them on a shocking path.
They Finally Set Off To Romania To Meet Rodica
So, Ron and Natalie traveled all the way from Canada to Arad, Romania. Arad is a city on the Mures River in the western part of Romania. Once they got to Arad, they met up with the employees at the adoption agency who directed them to a one-year-old orphan named Rodica Lavinia Farcas.
This little girl hadn’t been on the planet for that long, but she already had a mysterious past.
It Was Love At First Sight
Ron and Natalie knew Rodica was their daughter as soon as they laid eyes on her. She had this big, bright smile that could light up a whole room. Rodica had been through so much trauma in her short life, but she seemed to be a very happy child.
Ron and Natalie quickly learned that this wasn’t going to be a simple adoption. Before they could take Rodica home to Canada, they got some bad news about her health.
Rodica Was Severely Malnourished
At just one year old, Rodica had developed rickets, which is a disease that’s caused by a lack of vitamin D. Children with this disease have bones that are improperly calcified, which means that their bones are soft and fragile.
The good news is that rickets is curable. Rodica just needed to get some more sunlight and take some vitamin D supplements. The bad news was that she couldn’t play as much as she would have liked to for a while because her bones were so fragile.
Rodica Wasn’t The Only Orphan With Rickets
Unfortunately, Rodica wasn’t the only orphan at the Romanian orphanage with rickets. She wasn’t the only abandoned child, either. Back in the 1990s, Romania was under the control of Nicolae Ceauşescu, a dictator who banned all kinds of contraception. As you can imagine, this had catastrophic results.
Because of Ceauşescu’s policy, people became pregnant with unwanted children that they didn’t have the means to take care of. All of those unwanted children ended up in orphanages around the country.
The Orphans Didn’t Have Enough Resources
The country was already struggling to provide its citizens with the resources they needed. People couldn’t afford to care for the children they conceived, so they had no choice but to put them up for adoption. Children who were lucky ended up in orphanages. Some babies were just totally abandoned and left to fend for themselves.
Rodica was one of the lucky ones. She was given an opportunity to be adopted by a couple from another country who could afford to take care of her.
Ron And Natalie Wanted Answers
Ron and Natalie already felt like Rodica was their daughter. They knew that she had appeared into their lives for a reason. They wanted to know more about their daughter’s past. They wanted to have answers for her when she got old enough to ask questions.
They thought that Rodica deserved to know everything she could about her birth mother and why she ended up in that orphanage in Romania.
Let The Digging Begin
Ron and Natalie tried everything they could think of to find out more about Rodica’s backstory. They soon realized that it was nearly impossible to get the information they wanted.
Noone at the orphanage would provide them with accurate, up to date paperwork. They weren’t even sure that the paperwork existed. They decided to take matters into their own hands. They knew they were going to have to do some serious digging.
Who Is The Girl In This Photo?
Ron and Natalie were trying to find information in the pre-internet era, which is no easy task. They couldn’t just type Rodica’s name into google or look up her birth mother on Facebook.
Somehow, Natalie and Ron were able to find records of Rodica’s family tree. They were able to make connections in Romania and eventually, their hard work paid off. What they saw on that family tree completely shocked them. Rodica’s birth mother had actually given more than one child up for adoption.
Rodica Had An Older Sister
Ron and Natalie saw that Rodica’s birth mother had actually given birth to a child before Rodica. That child was also given up for adoption. She had been sent to a different orphanage in a different city, so these two siblings never even knew each other.
Ron and Natalie knew that they had to find Rodica’s sister. They knew how much it would mean to both girls to have a relationship with someone who shared their experience.
How Ron And Natalie Found Gianina
From the moment that Ron and Natalie learned that Rodica had a sister, they knew that they wanted to adopt her too. They searched every orphanage in Romania until they found Rodica’s older sister, Gianina.
Ron and Natalie were shocked by just how similar these two girls looked. Really, they looked like they could have been twins. The Trecroces were now a family of four and they couldn’t have been happier.
The Surprises Didn’t Stop There
Once the whole family was back home in Canada, Ron and Natalie made another huge discovery about their daughters’ biological family. Apparently, these girls had six other siblings. Ron and Natalie were already exhausted from their search for Gianina and they didn’t think that they could bring another six children into their home.
Even if they wanted to adopt the other children, it would be impossible to find them without a paper trail from Romania.
Adjusting To Life In Canada
Ron and Natalie accepted that the wouldn’t be able to find the other children, and they decided to devote all of their time and energy to the two beautiful young girls already in their care.
Ron and Natalie changed Gianina and Rodica’s names. Gianina became Sophie and Rodica became Danielle. Their new names reflected their new lives in a new country. But Natalie didn’t feel totally at peace with these name changes.
Preserving Some Of Their Past
The couple didn’t want to erase all of who these girls were before they came to Canada. Their life in Romania shaped them into who they are today, and it didn’t feel right to completely take away their Romanian names.
To preserve Sophia and Danielle’s history, Natalie and Ron decided to turn their previous first names into their new middle names. The girls were now Sophia Gianina Trecroce and Danielle Rodica Trecroce.
A Story That Inspired Many Others
Once people started hearing about Sophie and Danielle’s story, they wanted to learn more. It’s not that often that you hear about sisters separated at birth who are then reunited halfway around the world.
One documentary filmmaker was so interested in the story of these two girls that he decided to turn their story into a film. He wanted to document the story so that more people would be able to learn about it and be inspired.
The Girls Watched The Film When They Got Older
When Sophie got older, she actually watched the movie that this documentary filmmaker put together. She loved watching her life story unfold on camera, so she edited the video down to a shorter length so that she could upload it to YouTube.
The original video that Sophie posted has since been taken down, but before it was removed from YouTube, it reached thousands of people. Other edited versions of the film still exist on the platform today.
Sophie Is An Adult Now
The video that Sophie uploaded to YouTube got so much attention that it actually inspired Sophie to study photography. When Sophie went to college, she chose to pursue a photography major. The documentary also prompted Sophie to learn more about her family’s past.
Sophie decided that she wanted to travel to Romania to learn more about where she came from. She didn’t think that she’d find her birth mother, but just being in the country was enough for her.
Danielle Also Went To College
Thanks to the love and support of Ron and Natalie, Danielle, like her sister, was able to grow up into a well-adjusted, smart, and driven young woman. She also went to college to earn a bachelor’s degree. She went to a school near her sister so the two girls could live close together.
Danielle also joined Sophie on her trip to Romania so that they could learn about their heritage and family history together.
One Big Happy Family
When Ron and Natalie flew to Romania hoping to expand their family, they never imagined that they’d be coming home with two children rather than one. They knew that starting a family wasn’t going to be easy, but they couldn’t have foreseen how hard it would be to track down one little girl in all of Romania without the internet or valid paperwork.
All of their hard work obviously paid off, and this whole family got to have a happy ending.