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Laramie Movie Scope: Found

The lost children of the one-child policy

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 10, 2022 – This Netflix documentary about girls born in China adopted by parents living in other countries is an emotional tour de force about families torn apart, lost family histories and new family connections arising in the wake of all that.

This documentary film directed and produced by Amanda Lipitz follows three adopted girls who find they are related through DNA tests, as they travel together to China to find out more about how their adoptions are related to the former “One-Child Policy” in that country.

The three girls featured in the documentary are 13-year-old Chloe Lipitz, a 13-year-old girl adopted by a Jewish family, 14-year-old Sadie Mangelsdorf, adopted by a now-divorced couple in Nashville and 17-year-old Lily Bolka, adopted by a large Catholic family in Oklahoma City. They are aided in their search for their birth parents by Chinese genealogist Liu Hao of the My China Roots company.

Liu Hao has quite a story of her own. She, herself, was almost given up for adoption under the one-child policy, but her parents and grandparents decided to keep her at home. The reason she was almost abandoned by her family was that the Liu Hao had a brother, and boys are favored because they traditionally carry on the family name. The one-child population control policy was in effect in China from 1980 to 2015, and it led to widespread legal, moral and social problems.

The three girls featured in the documentary (all living comfortable lives in the United States) all discovered they were cousins through DNA testing. The DNA tests were initially done because nothing was known about their families. DNA tests were used mainly to discover if any of the three had any genetic predispositions, or disorders that could affect their health.

When the three girls discovered they were related, and from the same province in China, they began communicating online. Since two of the girls wanted to find their birth parents, and all three wanted to see the part of China they came from, they all ended up traveling there together, aided by Liu Hao of My China Roots. Among the places they saw were the locations where their parents had left them to be found.

Through advertising, birth dates and DNA tests, My China Roots tried to find the birth parents for the three, but no match was found. This led to a very emotional scene where Liu Hao delivers DNA test results to a family hoping to connect with their birth daughter. She tells the family that the results do not match to any of the three girls. She asks if the family is willing to meet with the three girls anyway, and this meeting is quite emotional.

Other emotional meetings are held with nannies who work at orphanages where the three girls lived for the first few months of their lives. Despite the fact that the nannies worked with many babies over the years, it is evident that they remember these girls, and they care about what happens to them.

The terrible emotional cost of China's one-child policy is quite evident on the faces of the three girls, on the faces of the nannies and on the faces of family members looking for their lost children, or sisters, in this movie. Now, the Chinese government has reversed course and is encouraging more child births in the wake of China’s rapidly declining (and historically low) birth rates in recent years.

Anti-Asian racism in America took a turn for the worse recently when certain politicians used dangerous anti-Chinese rhetoric regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, first identified in Wuhan, China. Predictably, this rhetoric led to physical attacks, some fatal, against Americans of Asian descent, and great damage to certain businesses owned by Asian Americans, such as Chinese restaurants.

If anti-Chinese racists watched this movie, they might realize that these people are the same as we are, with the same feelings that we all share for families and ancestry. Unfortunately, fear, hatred and division make powerful political weapons. As the great Molly Ivins said, “Polarizing people is a good way to win an election, and also a good way to wreck a country.” This film is a good antidote for that, it rates an A.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2022 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]