Kati Pohler was just three days old when she was left at a market in China, where she was found by child services and later adopted by an American family.
Now 22, Pohler, also known as Catherine Su Pohler, is studying public health and music at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, according to the Post Magazine.
A BBC documentary, “Meet Me on the Bridge,” details the story of how that letter, which suggested meeting on a bridge in either 10 or 20 years, brought Pohler and her biological father and mother, Xu Lida and Qian Fenxiang, together after more than 20 years of separation.
A translation of the letter was published in Post Magazine, part of which read: “Oh, pity the hearts of fathers and mothers far and near! Thank you for saving our little daughter and taking her into your care. If the heavens have feelings, if we are brought together by fate, then let us meet again on the Broken Bridge in Hangzhou on the morning of the Qixi Festival in 10 or 20 years from now.”
Pohler’s biological parents appeared remorseful in the film, seated next to each other in the interview.
In the documentary, filmed and directed by Changfu Chang, Lida and Fenxiang recount how they felt giving up their baby daughter because of poverty and China’s one-child policy.
“We didn’t want to abandon her on the street. We had no choice,” Fenxiang said in the film.
Discovering the truth about my parents after 20 years
“My last memory of her is the sound of her crying,” Lida said in the documentary, remembering the moment he walked away.
In 1996, Pohler was adopted by Ken and Ruth Pohler, a couple from Hudsonville, Mich., according to the documentary and article from the Post Magazine. Scenes from the documentary show Kati Pohler praying beside her adoptive parents at the dinner table and playing violin.
“I grew up in a place that was very white, very Caucasian, but my community was so close and so tight that I saw myself as different but I was actually really accepted,” Kati Pohler said.
Kati Pohler traveled to China this summer for an emotional meeting with her birth parents and biological sister on the bridge, which was captured in the documentary. Visibly overwhelmed by the moment, Fenxiang embraced her daughter with tears and regret.
“Mum is so sorry,” Fenxiang said. “I’ve finally seen you. My daughter.”
Kati Pohler was forgiving of her birth parents in the film: “From my perspective, I understand their situation as much as I think I can,” she said, describing how her birth parents were stuck in a broken system.