Vivian and Shumin Three Years Later

It’s already been over three years since we followed Vivian’s life-changing trip to China and her cross-culture adventures with Shumin’s family in The Invisible Red Thread. The cameras stopped rolling, but life keeps going.  What have Vivian and Shumin been up to, on their separate sides of the globe?

We’ve checked in on these two and here’s what’s new:

After a summer  family vacation to Prince Edward Island, Vivian has made the leap from high school to University.  Vivian has left home and moved to Guelph, Ontario (a good deal shorter than her trip to China, but just as big a change) to begin her first year in a Bachelor of Commerce at University of Guelph  in Hotel and Food Administration, the perfect program for someone with people skills and a love of travel. It seems as though Vivian is transitioning well, after her first few days , she sent her mom a text message telling her that she is having a lot of fun and making a ton of new friends. For her parents, Hubert and Eve, the change may be even more substantial – their youngest is flying the nest and moving out into the world, on her own.

Vivian and her Dad packing up the car for her big move!

Vivian and her Dad packing up the car for her big move!

On the other side of the world, Shumin is also back at school this year. She is currently enrolled in high school and says she’s looking forward to attending college in the future.  In an e-mail to co-director Changu Chang, she writes, “My life in high school is hectic but worthwhile” and explains that school begins before 7AM and ends at 10PM with two hour-long breaks for meals. Even with that schedule, Shumin says high school is easier than middle school! While Vivian learns the finer points of business and hotel management, Shumin’s favourite subjects are English and Chinese and she is doing very well in her sports class.

A recent photo of Shumin

Shumin on her way back to school

With Shumin’s busy school schedule, she has found it difficult to find time to write to Vivian as often as she would like. Access to the Internet is sporadic, making sending and receiving letters a lengthy process. And before either girl sends their letters, they need to be translated although Shumin is hoping to soon know enough English to do that herself. Yet Vivian and Shumin continue to write to each other despite these barriers.

The impact of the experience of being in our documentary still has ripple effects for both girls- particularly for Shumin. Shumin writes of the positive impact the film continues to have on her and her family’s life, particularly the ongoing commitment by the filmmakers to help support her through university. She says this confidence in her inspires her to try even harder in her studies. And Vivian and her family are still regularly meeting people who saw the film on OMNI TV in Canada and want to tell them they were moved by it.

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Upcoming screening – Saturday September 21 – Madison, WI

Pastor Jeremy Straus, Nicole Straus and daughters

Pastor Jeremy Straus, Nicole Straus and daughters


What: Screening of the Invisible Red Thread and Support Group discussion

Where: Grace Evangelical Church, 4127 County Road AB

When: 6-8pm, Saturday September 21st, 2013

How: $Free. And, childcare provided!

Pastor Jeremy Straus at Grace Evangelical Church, in conjunction with Knit Together Adoption Support Group – an adoptive and Foster Parents Support Group, in Madison, Wisconsin is hosting a special screening of “The Invisible Red Thread” this upcoming Saturday, September 21, from 6pm to 8pm.

“I think it will be a great help,” said Pastor Straus, when asked why he was interested in screening The Invisible Red Thread.

“We hope to help, in particular, our international adoptive families,” Straus explained, “The majority [of families in our support group] are foster families, and we’re trying not to neglect the internationally adopting families. I hope to comfort them with seeing the reactions of the girl in the film exploring her own origins, and have answers to some of their questions.”

For Pastor Straus, the subject hits close to home, he and his wife have three adopted children and are about to adopt a fourth. Straus started this support group after his own experiences adopting, “We realized the experience was so much richer to be going through the journey, together.”

Pastor Straus said he was aware of many of the questions with which adoptive parents struggle. When it comes to answering difficult questions that arise, he had this advice: “There’s not one pat response, try to be prepared ahead of time…Talk with your husband or wife to know what you plan to say.”

Before the screening, Pastor Straus will lead the support group in discussion and introduce the film.

Where: Grace Evangelical Church, 4127 County Road AB
When: 6-8pm, Saturday September 21st, 2013
How: $Free. And, childcare provided!
More info: Contact Pastor Straus at (608) 222-1605 or 

Click here to buy a copy of the Invisible Red Thread for your own collection; to host your own screening, contact us here!

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Crowdfunding Your International Adoption or Fertility Treatment?

Adopting a child internationally is expensive. Estimates run at about $25 000-50 000, with typical costs including home study costs, adoption agency fees, travel expenses and more. Some families have saved, borrowed from family or even taken out bank loans. And now, others are turning to crowd funding. Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have helped finance new products, films, start-ups – so why not adoption?


Check out this article from CNN Money on AdoptTogether, the first nonprofit crowd funding site devoted to adoption. So far the site has raised $1 million for 300 adoptive families.

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Invisible Red Thread Discussion & Resource Guide Now Available!

      We’ve just produced a newly-minted educational discussion-and-resource guide to accompany viewing of The Invisible Red Thread!

     With interesting facts, suggested questions for parents and for educators, as well as a list of relevant links, the discussion guide adds yet another layer of clarity and understanding to the film.


     This new guide will help educators initiate discussions in the classroom as well as allow students to delve deeper into the stories and the questions that the film brings up. And for those of you who are parents, it will help add value to your child’s viewing experience and can foster a discussion when their questions become even more challenging and harder to answer.

   The discussion guide also contains information about international adoption, links to several relevant blogs and websites, great stills from the movie!

     Download the new Invisible Red Thread Discussion Guide right here!

     Like the guide? Then how about getting yourself a copy of the film for your own home-viewing or for screenings at your institution!

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Marijane Nguyen and Honouring One’s Cultural Roots – Screening & discussion in Chandler, AZ on June 1st!

A parent’s death can be traumatic, and when it reveals long-hidden family secrets, it can be all the more challenging.

Marijane Nguyen, courtesy

Screening and discussion: June 1st, 2013 at 1pm, Copper Room (2nd level) of the Chandler Public Library, 22 S. Delaware Street, Chandler, Arizona 85225. Check for more details!

When blogger and music therapist Marijane Nguyen’s adoptive mother died in 2008, it was just such an upheaval that lead her to question her own roots and adoption story, and inspire her to write her blog, Beyond Two Worlds.

At four months old, Marijane was adopted by a Caucasian, American family, while her adoptive father, an American serviceman, was stationed at Okinawa, Japan. Upon moving back Stateside, her parents were always reluctant to discuss her adoption. At the age of 20, when Marijane finally asked about her past, her mother got very upset – and that ended Marijane’s questions for a time.

Pandora’s box in the attic

When her mother passed away in 2008, Marijane found her adoption papers, long hidden away and forgotten in a box in the attic, and had her self-identity briefly flipped upside down. She had always thought she was Japanese and Vietnamese, but in that moment, she learned that her biological parents were in fact Chinese, living in Taiwan.

 A search for answers

So began a two-year-long search for her birth family. Despite many false leads, faint hopes and wrong turns, working with a social worker from Taiwan, Marijane was able to locate the address where her biological parents used to live – and Chinese families tend not to move around. On Christmas Eve 2011, Marijane got a very unexpected gift: she discovered she had two birth sisters and a brother. And in 2012, she reunited with her birth family in Taiwan, and was welcomed as a sister.

As much as the details of Marijane’s adoption were hidden from her, she discovered her birth siblings had also been kept in the dark. One day she was there, the next, she was gone, with her birth siblings left wondering where.

Who am I?

One of the biggest questions that many adopted children wrestle with is identity. Discovering her past, for Marijane, meant re-defining who she thought she was. She wrote an excellent blog post about that redefinition here.

According to the US State Department, 2012 saw 105 international adoptions in Marijane’s home state of Arizona. With that number of children adopted each year, there is a large group of young Americans (and their adoptive parents) who will soon be juggling their multiple cultural identities, and trying to understand that perennial question: Who am I?

Honoring One’s Cultural Rootsthe intersection of adoption, culture and identity

Once you jump through all of the hoops and sign all of the documents and you’re properly vetted by multiple bureaucracies and you finally make it home with your new bundle of joy, then what? Marijane noticed a need – that families with international adoptions need support, post-adoption.

She decided to host a screening of the Invisible Red Thread in order to help meet that need. She hopes to bring adoptive parents, adopted children and adoption professionals closer together, with the goal of making the transition into adoptive families as smooth and painless as possible.

After a screening of our award-winning film, Marijane, accompanied by psychotherapist Stephanie Withrow and music therapist Dalena Watson, both parents of internationally adopted kids, will host a facilitated discussion on the topic of the intersection of adoption, culture and identity.

Marijane Nguyen is a blogger at Beyond Two Worlds. She is a certified music therapist and currently resides in Arizona. You can reach her at

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A New Way to View The Invisible Red Thread !



We are pleased to bring to your attention that educational institutions have the option to stream The Invisible Red Thread!  A growing trend on the market, a streaming option may be best for your institution. Depending on your needs, the documentary can be hosted on internal servers, giving you complete control over what users have access. This can also be done externally using security restrictions.

Purchasing a DVD copy is still a viable option. The limitations of a DVD copy, however, may not suit your specific needs. DVD copies may become damaged or lost. They must also be maintained in a DVD library, limiting how long someone can have access to it, as well as how many people may watch it at one time. Streams can be accessed anytime and anywhere there is an internet connection, and it also requires fewer resources to manage.

Currently, customers usually purchase both the DVD and the streaming rights, but there soon might be a time in the future where the streaming option will dominate. There are three streaming options available:

  1. Temporary Streama unique url will be accessible for as long as it is required.
  1. Internal/External Server Streamthe institution purchases the streaming rights and hosts the documentary on their internal servers, or access the documentary using a proxy server.
  1. Pay-Per-Viewthe institution purchases a limited number of views. A promotional code allows access to the stream on an external site.

For more information regarding the purchase of streaming rights or a DVD copy of The Invisible Red Thread, visit or contact Anne Connolly,

Special thanks to Anne Connolly for helpfully providing us with all the information!

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UPDATE: Berkeley Screening a Success!


Last Friday, a small screening of The Invisible Red Thread was held at the University of California Berkeley. The twenty in attendance were a mix of high school and college students, parents, as well as some young children who all seemed to enjoy the documentary! An insightful discussion followed the screening as some college student adoptees responded to how they felt about going back to their countries of origin. A wonderful evening was had by all!

Once again, we would like to thank the Half the Sky Foundation for organizing this screening, as well as Berkeley Undergrad and Half the Sky Foundation volunteer Nicole Lee for coming into contact with us!

If you are interested in holding a screening of The Invisible Red Thread, visit this page to learn how!

For more information on the Half the Sky Foundation, visit their website

Based in Berkeley, the Half the Sky Foundation is a non-profit organization which provides caregiver training and loving, family-like care, to enrich the lives of orphaned children in China.

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The Half the Sky Foundation to Screen The Invisible Red Thread at Berkeley University!

We are very pleased to announce that The Invisible Red Thread will soon be screening at the University of California Berkeley! On Friday April 12th, the Half the Sky Foundation will be holding a screening on campus, free of admission.

 Image “The purpose of this screening is primarily to raise awareness on campus of the discussion surrounding Chinese orphan care and policy,” says UCB undergrad Nicole Lee, a volunteer at the Half the Sky Foundation. “We’re partnering with a student organization called AdopteeUniversity, which is geared toward adoptee students on campus for mentorship and dialogue. Together, we hope to reach out to students who might be interested in a similar cause and students who would want to get more involved but don’t know where to start. We’re also looking for any students who would want to start a college charter on the UC Berkeley campus so that Half the Sky could partner with college students to make more of a difference in the lives of orphaned children in China.”

  Based in Berkeley, the Half the Sky Foundation is a non-profit organization which establishes orphanages all throughout China to care for abandoned and vulnerable children. While researching potential documentaries, Nicole and Sarah Cramer—the Associate Director Volunteer and Events at Half the Sky—quickly happened upon the award winning documentary and found themes in The Invisible Red Thread to be relevant to their organization. “I think the idea behind the film, following the lives of two Chinese children who were adopted at a young age but now living in completely different parts of the world, is not only unique but also profound and insightful,” says Nicole. “I’m so thankful that Vivian and Shumin have given us viewers the privilege and honor to follow along their lives and journeys, to see how China’s policies are not just political but very deeply personal.”

     We wish them a successful screening! Bon Cinema!

photos to come…


To learn more about the Half the Sky Foundation, visit their website


Special thanks to Nicole Lee for coming into contact with us. A second year undergrad at UC Berkeley, Nicole is majoring in Psychology and Statistics. 

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Our Doc Reviewed on “Adoption at the Movies” website: Platform starts discussions about adoption through the movie lens

ImageBooks and movies are reviewed under the lens of adoption at Adoption at the Movies ( The range of films, all reviewed for their relevance to adoption, may surprise you, from Angels in the Outfield to Tarzan, Les Misérables and several documentaries. Recently the blog reviewed The Invisible Red Thread offering up a thorough analysis of our film and how it can be used by adoptees, families and those who work with them.

Addison Cooper, a social worker specializing in adoption, is the owner of the site and its film reviewer. He started the website “to use film to help families have important conversations about adoption”. And he’s prolific! He started posting reviews in October 2012 and so far has posted over 80 book and movies reviews, along with a sprinkling of pieces on adoption advice.

His reviews follow an interesting format:

  • A summary of the film or book
  • The adoption connection
  • Challenges that viewers might have to go through
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the film
  • Questions relevant to the film that parents will want to ask kids after a viewing    
  • Recommendations of other films or books

The questions are a significant part of each review, providing a useful educational tool for teachers, parents and social workers working with adoptees, parents interested in adopting and families. Adoption at the Movies is a creative way of engaging kids and parents, adopted or not, to talk about adoption.

Links included in this article:

Adoption at the Movies

Adoption at the Movies’ review of The Invisible Red Thread:

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Small Is Beautiful : How to Organize An Intimate Screening of “The Invisible Red Thread”


Do you think your local group of international adoptee families may be too small to host a screening of our documentary?  Think again!

 On February 24, Families with Children from China– Manitoba (FCC Manitoba) will be hosting a screening of our documentary, with director Maureen Marovitch present via Skype for a Q & A after the screening. Will they hold it in a big theatre? A 400+ person hall? No, they’ve opted to go for an intimate atmosphere in a cozy meeting room. 

 Says Elizabeth Welter, a parent from FCC Manitoba “We are a very small organization, and don’t have the person-power to pull off a community event in the now or in the near future.  So we landed on the idea of keeping our screening to the immediate FCC families.”

 Their group will number 21 in all: 18 adults and 3 girls in the 10-11 year old age range. FCC Manitoba’s leaders believe the friendly group atmosphere will make it easy for the girls and adults to get involved in a group discussion. And the experience of seeing the film together, is powerful and supportive.  

 This isn’t the first time smaller groups have organized screenings of our film. We’ve participated in Skype Q & A sessions held in libraries, church basements, restaurants and even at a house party screening. At $10 a ticket, a group of 20 viewers easily breaks even- and the gathering has the added advantage of being able to pre-buy DVDs to take home at a greatly reduced rate. 

 So if you think your local group of international adoptees is too small to have its own public screening, think again. It might be just the intimate viewing experience that’s perfect for your organization!

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