Vivian and Shuming : Four Years After The Documentary’s Release

Vivian and her sister in Toronto

Vivian (L) and her sister (R) in Toronto

After making the film The Invisible Red Thread, it was clear that Vivian and Shuming were both bright and kind girls, with great potential in many ways. Throughout the documentary, we grew to knew our characters and now regularly keep in touch with their families. We like to begin the New Year by catching up with both Vivian and Shuming, and our hearts continue to be warmed by the positive impact participating in the film has had (and continues to have) on the girls and their families.

Recently, our China unit co-director Changfu Chang spoke to Shuming’s adopted father, Mr. Zhu, who is still working in Shanghai, by phone before calling Jiangxi and talking with Shuming’s mom and Shuming.

Shumin and Viv Under Umbrella

Shuming Zhu, from The Invisible Red Thread

Changfu remembers the Zhu family he first met in 2010, “They seemed humble and voiceless. Now they are a changed family in many ways.” The highlight of being part of “The Invisible Red Thread” was the major positive change for Shuming and her parents. Shuming’s father, Mr. Zhu, continues to work in a construction site in Shanghai. Changfu says he now hears joy and satisfaction in Mr. Zhu’s voice. Where Mr. Zhu used to worry a lot about his failing health, he now brushes the topic off, saying he is enjoying good health right now. More importantly, he says, Shuming is changing so incredibly for the better. A girl who endured the traumatic revelation that she was adopted and became introverted, a girl who had no confidence and was ready to quit school after finishing elementary school years when we first met her, is now blossoming into what the Chinese call a “sunshine youngster.”

After initially struggling mightily in middle school, Shuming has steadily made huge strides in middle school, participating in extracurricular activities, running for positions in student organizations, and improving her grades. In a competitive class of over 60 students, Shuming is ranked in the top 15. She is now college-bound and we will cheerlead and support her each step of the way.

As for Vivian, her parents Eve and Hubert say she is doing well and rapidly spreading her wings. She is in her 2nd year of a Bachelors of Commerce at Guelph University in the Co-op Hospitality management stream, and living independently for the first time. She will likely start a 12-month co-op placement in May.  Her work applications have gone out and she is waiting to hear back for interviews. Featured in her cover letter, was none other than her experience filming “The Invisible Red Thread”.

We are wishing Vivian and Shuming good luck with all of their exciting endeavors and all the participants and crew in our documentary a healthy, happy year!

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Happy New Year

sheepchinesenyXin nian kuai le, everyone!

Get those firecrackers ready because February 19 marks the beginning of the year of the Sheep (Goat) – which means a nurturing, peaceful 2015. How are you celebrating?

Here is to a year of joy and happiness.

In the spirit of the New Year, we will be sharing an update on what Vivian and Shuming are up to very soon.

- from the Invisible Red Thread team 

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Roots and Branches


A still of Ricki from the film “Ricki’s Promise” documenting her journey back to China.

A recent article on News China points to the rarity of Chinese adoptees connecting with their birthparents later in life. Friend and Invisible Red Thread collaborator, Changfu Chang is quoted in the article.

“Locating birth families in China is extremely difficult, as in most cases abandoned babies are the result of unregistered births.” Professor Changfu Chang told NewsChina that only 70 out of hundreds of thousands of Chinese adoptees living in the US have successfully reconnected with their birth parents. “This is due to large scale [rural-urban] migration in the last few decades and a lack of adequate records,” said Chang.”

The article goes on to retell the stories of a couple of wonderful young Chinese adoptees and their eventual journey of self-discovery to China to find their birthparents. Just as Vivian wished to connect with her origins and her biological parents in our film, so did Ricki, Kate and Zoe. If your interest is piqued and you would like to read more about their stories, the politics of international adoption and what has been coined “identity crises” in adoptees, give this thorough article a read.

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Christmas Gift Ideas for Adoptive Parents

The most wonderful time of year has snuck up on us, once again! As usual, we take pleasure in searching the nooks and crannies of the world wide web to bring you a list of adoption gift ideas. Each is adorable and unique, with the potential to secure you a spot in the gift giving hall of fame. Whether the special someones on your Christmas list are adoptees, adoptive parents, or even adoptive parents to-be, you can certainly find something below that will make them smile.


Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 4.33.35 PMA handmade silver necklace that can feature a special date in your child’s life or the date of a special family occasion. Every piece is made to order and can be worn for years to come.

Solid sterling silver pendant in the shape of China, with matching chain (18 inch). The necklace is handmade by the maker and sold on Etsy, with numerous options for countries around the globe.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 4.32.54 PMMade famous by Carrie Bradshaw and popular ever since, name necklaces are another sweet personalized gift option. This Gold Chinese Name Necklace, is gold-plated over brass and custom-made. The company will even help with name translation, if necessary.


A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kazsa is a charming, humorous book perfect for preschoolers or beginner level readers. Told from the little bird’s perspective, the book follows Choco on a mission to find his mother. Kazsa’s story is well-written, simply drawn and as sweet as Christmas cookies. Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 4.33.09 PM

Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today’s Parents by Deborah D. Gray explores the ways people can choose to come together to make a family. A great book for adoptive parents (a little too advanced for the little ones) with a positive message of love and acceptance.



This typography adoption quote is printed on genuine artists canvas. Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 2.49.26 PM Handcrafted adoption art is always an original gift idea, especially when you can pick your colours and personalize it with a special name and birthdate!

An ‘I Love You From Here To CHINA’ art print  can also be customized to any country you chose, and is available in different colours, unframed.

A lovely 1 3/4 inch nickel ornament that has been hand stamped with “You were the missing piece” – perfect for a first christmas with the family or to mark their place in your heart.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 3.14.25 PMLao Yan has been making handmade coloured ornaments by hand in his Chinese home since 2012.Symbolizing Grace, Hope, Love, Family, Faith, or Blessing his twisted heirloom pieces are made up of a single piece of flexible colored wire.


One At A Time Adoption Shirt / Youth 100% Cotton T-Shirt. Hoping to spread an important message, there is a heartwarming story behind this T-shirts creation as well. A family is in the process of adopting a little boy from one of China’s special needs programs. They are hoping to travel to China to meet their new son in the fall and all purchases of this shirt or other items from their Etsy store go towards funding their journey.Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 4.32.05 PM

This adorable Gotcha Adoption shirt can be personalized with a name and date. It is available in different sizes,  and in both long sleeved and short sleeved varieties.

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You can record your child’s adoption story in this “Precious Child” notebook. Adoption sensitive, gender neutral and with gorgeous watercolour paintings on every page, it makes for a thoughtful and practical gift for immortalizing memories. As the book is individually printed, options are available for single parents and for older child adoptions. You can even personalize the cover and inside pages with the child or family’s name. Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 3.26.09 PM

It All Began In China – 5″ x 7″ Travel journal that you can use as an adoption journal in China, notebook, diary, sketch book, scrapbook, adventure or memory book. Sure to be a treasure for years to come.


With cold winter weather tipping at your nose, cute mother & children mugs for big cups of cocoa or coffee (with Chinese  & Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 4.28.36 PMEnglish writing) make for a brilliant gift.

If you would like something more personalized, there is also the From China with love mug. Choose from designs for a boy or girl, both are read with a graphic in the center that you can then customize with a particular name.


DVDS th-1

Of course, we would be doing ourselves a great disservice if we didn’t mention our documentary, The Invisible Red Thread – a possible gift idea for any movie lover on your list, whether part of the adoptive community or not, young or old. The DVD can be ordered online. As an added bonus, a portion of the proceeds of the DVD sales go towards supporting Shumin’s secondary studies in China (one of our characters).


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Chinese Officials Still Waiting for a Baby Boom

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.59.49 AM

Photo by: Ng Han Guan, from

It seems few of China’s young couples are looking to take advantage of the country’s new & looser one-child policy rules.

A few months ago, we blogged about the easing of China’s one-child policy to allow only-child couples to have two children (mainly in cities and not rural areas such as China’s southern Jiangxi Province, where The Invisible Red Thread’s Shumin Zhu lives and where the policy has been more relaxed).

However, statistics released last week point to the fact that few of the country’s young couples are willing to take advantage of China’s looser rules. Zhao Yanpei, a senior official at the National Health and Family Planning Commission, told reporters that despite a predicted baby boom by demographers, the increase has been much lower than expected. With over 2 million births per year anticipated, only 700, 000 couples have submitted applications to have a second child, so far – throwing economic experts concerned over China’s fiscal growth into a frenzy.

Is there a time lag on societal shifts such as this one? Is it too early to tell? Or are Chinese couples simply not as interested in having a second child?

Read more here:

Wall Street Journal 



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Families with Children from China of Middle Tennessee will be showing The Invisible Red Thread

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 12.00.47 PM

Two members of the Families with Children from China of Middle Tennessee organization. Photo from their website

On November 3rd, the FCC organization of Middle Tennessee will screen our film, “The Invisible Red Thread” at the Bellevue Church of Christ in Nashville.

The non-profit organization, with an aim to serve and support families in all stages of adoption from China, was founded in 2007 and now has around 200 members. Unlike their usual monthly screenings, they’ve decided to gear this event towards an older audience, with parents and children over 13 years old invited to attend.

Organizer Dana Croy told us one of the local FCC families was profiled in the adoption-themed film “Somewhere in Between” and had very positive feedback when screened by the community. With “The Invisible Red Thread” being in the same family of adoption films, she expects the film to be just as well received. next Monday night.

“The Board & myself feel strongly that there are not enough families talking about this stuff. There are many families coming home with their kids, whether it be from China or even from Russia, and they say ‘We’re here now and [the kids] are American or white’. They are not giving enough attention to the questions of identity that these girls and boys need to wrestle with.”

Guests will be watching the film on two 60-inch flat screen TVs suspended on the church walls, and are encouraged to bring dinner or snacks. An open discussion about the film will conclude the evening.

The event is free for members and 5$ at the door for non-members. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the meet & greet and brown bag dinner on Monday, November 3, 2014 at the Bellevue Church of Christ (Nashville). Movie begins at 6:30PM, followed by discussion. Contact Dana Croy at for more information.

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Chinese Adoptees Find Shifting Identities

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 2.09.22 PM

Chinese-American adoptees Genevieve Norman and Kate Crotty both undertook a recent trip back to China – but their journey led them to two very different destinations. A story about them on piqued our interest, as we’re always on the lookout for other stories about Chinese adoption. Genevieve & Kate are both Chinese adoptees, now living in Austin, Texas and Cincinnati, Ohio respectively. After feeling more Chinese than American for most of her adult life, Genevieve spent a year studying in Shanghai, only to come away with a very different notion of her cultural identity. Kate had a similar but different experience. She also felt the need to visit China more and more as she got older, but her journey back home left her feeling more Chinese than ever before, and more appreciative and aware of her unique roots.

Watch two short interviews with both the girls and read the full article on


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Ricki’s Promise, a film by Changfu Chang

8.5x11_poster_CFFWhat happens when an 18 year old American girl adopted from China returns to her birthland to spend summer vacation living with her recently discovered biological parents?   That’s the situation of “Ricki’s Promise”, a new feature length documentary. The 84 minute film is set to have its world premiere at the Cincinnati World Film Festival on Saturday, Sept 20 at 3:45 PM.  Directed by prolific producer/ director Changfu Chang, who led the filming in China of 2010 of our own documentary “The Invisible Red Thread”, his latest documentary follows Ricki Mudd, 18, as she returns to China to embark on a journey to understand the past. In a culture now foreign to her, with biological parents she barely knows, Ricki  struggles to unravel her own identity. Meanwhile, her biological parents confront old wounds as they get to know a daughter they last saw nearly two decades earlier Set against the backdrop of culture, Chinese politics, and  larger adoption ethics, this film will soon be widely available for sale. Changfu has a special connection with adoptees and their families, as we got to see when he directed our filming crew in China. We wish him great success with his newest documentary! To learn more about Ricki’s Promise,  visit the film’s official website or check out the trailer below. Click to learn more about the Cincinnati Film Festival’s programming.

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Chinese Heritage Camp in Colorado will screen the Invisible Red Thread

Screen shot 2014-08-25 at 11.28.23 AMUpdate: We heard from organizers that over 200 people had the chance to watch our film, The Invisible Red Thread over the course of the Labour Day weekend. A huge thank you to the Chinese Heritage Camp in Colorado!

From August 29 – September 1, 2014 the Chinese heritage Camp in Fraser, Colorado will screen the Invisible Red Thread at the Snow Mountain Ranch.

About 200 families with children from China attend the Chinese branch of Colorado’s Heritage Camp each year, at the Snow Mountain Ranch in the mountains of Colorado. While the kids take part in a variety of cultural activities like cooking, martial arts, dance classes, and other more common outdoor camp activities like zip lining or white water rafting, parents can attend workshops or play around-the-clock mahjong.

We spoke with the camp’s cultural events and activity organizer, Moiya Smith, about the upcoming screening. She said it’s the weekend’s most anticipated event. “A couple of years ago, we showed our first film and it was so popular that now we are constantly on the look out for films that can help our parents, and that they can share with their kids and discuss.”

The film will show twice, after which there will be a facilitated round table discussion and attendees will also be encouraged to talk amongst themselves afterwards.

Smith says they thought The Invisible Red Thread was a good choice because Shumin and Vivian raise questions that many of their attendees have already asked their parents, or will probably be curious about in the future. “As our kids are getting older, we’re really looking at how they will fit here & how they will fit there [in China]… as Chinese kids in a primarily white society or, at least a mainly white environment. If we’re not scared of these questions, we can really understand and embrace family & cultural heritage & how that fits.”

For more information visit their website or contact the 2014 event directors: Kathy Eason, Ron Fryer, Susie Hale, & Dawn Hinsvark.


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Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 10.09.40 AMThis Sunday there will be a special screening of The Invisible Red Thread at The Center for East Asian Studies at Kansas University at the Lawrence Arts Center. It will be followed by a panel discussion, with three specials guests: Sophie Tate (19), Juliana Hacker (19 – who also happens to be Center Outreach Coordinator Randi Hacker’s daughter), and Grace Oliver (19). The three girls are all Chinese adoptees who can relate to the film’s main characters, Vivian and Shumin, and will then share their thoughts and reactions with the crowd.

Although the girl’s don’t know each other, they share a similar experience. The screening of The Invisible Red Thread was actually suggested to Center Outreach Coordinator Randi Hacker by one of the young panelists, Sophie Tate. Sophie is a student at Skidmore college at Saratoga, and as an honors program student she must complete a citizenship project, exploring her culture in a personal way and then writing a paper about her experience. After watching The Invisible Red Thread, Sophie called The Center to ask if they could help her screen the film. Hacker says they happily accepted.

“Not only does it look at the child from Toronto but it also has a great component about contemporary life in China. The girls have all been raised in a similar environment to Vivian’s in Toronto, which is to say indulged and very western. When I saw the film, I came away with the fact that Shumin was way more capable than Vivian… she could provide for her family, she could chop with a big knife…. I want them to come away from the film maybe thinking they should work on their survival skills, or maybe even just come away thinking how lucky they are materialistically. ”

The goal, Hacker adds, is to focus on their experience as adoptees and their feelings of connection with China, which they all feel very strongly about.

Hacker says she expects upwards of about 50 people to attend the event, including many community members who have adoptive children from China. In fact, Hacker adopted her daughter Juliana from China 19 years ago, which is when her love for East Asian culture was born. “When I made the decision to go to China to adopt a baby, I started taking Chinese & getting myself much more involved,” she says. The writer, teacher, and proud parent left her home in New York to move Missouri to take the job at Kansas University, where she now organizes events, conferences, seminars, speakers, classes, festivals, and screenings to promote the CEAS’ mission of advancing knowledge, understanding, and interest for East Asian culture (specifically Japan China, Mongolia, and Korea) in Kansas.

Hacker says the Center for East Asian Studies at Kansas University has one of the broadest reaching outreach programs of any East Asian Studies center in the United States, interacting with over one hundred thousand people through their events, website, Facebook and their highly popular radio show “Postcards from Asia” (first broadcast in 2005 and holding the time slot right before “This American Life”). We’re delighted that The Center has decided to hold this special screening of The Invisible Red Thread.

For more information about the screening, write to us at or contact Randi Hacker, Center for East Asian Studies Outreach Coordinator at 785-864-3832.


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