“It’s just a love story . . . where heartbeats synchronize, even though worlds apart. We’ve learned that the best stories in the world always teach us about love.” – Dave Peters
Filmmakers and sometimes-farmers Dave and Kathi Peters love to share stories that invoke the miracles that come through love. Their film Find Me began when their good friends, Nate and Jenn LeSeur, along with their two sons, decided to adopt a little girl from China. Kathi had worked for several years in Chinese adoption and already had a passion for the subject, so she and Dave decided to create a documentary about the LeSeur family’s adoption story. The resulting movie, however, was not exactly what they had expected.
Nate and Jenn LeSeur took along a camera and filmed their first meeting with their daughter. The most touching moment, however, came later, when they saw their new daughter’s foster mother sobbing uncontrollably in the hall. The foster mother had loved and cared for this little girl for 2 ½ years.
After Nate and Jenn returned with their daughter from China, they sat down with the Peters and shared their story. The Peters decided that they wanted to go back with the LeSeur family to China to the orphanage where their daughter had been raised. They also wanted to try to find their daughter’s “finding place.”
Many, if not most, of the orphans in China are not true orphans. They have mothers and fathers who, for whatever reason, are no longer able to care for their child. Desperate for their child to have the potential to have a good life, they will leave their child in a place in which they will be found and placed in a state orphanage. These parents hope that the orphanages will provide them with more opportunities in life, including the possibility of being adopted. These children are often left with blankets or notes with their birth dates in their pockets.
For adoptive parents, going to their child’s finding place is often a very moving experience as they think of the circumstances and the desperation of parents who had to let go of a beloved child in order to do what would give their child the greatest opportunities to have a good life. Many times the children who are found have a disability.
While planning their trip to China, the Peters received a phone call from Michael Rottina, a man who had spent time in a Chinese orphanage that had recently been shut down because of flooding. Rottina decided to be part of the Peters’ project in the hopes of bringing awareness to the world of the thousands of children in China who want—and need—to be adopted.
The Peters and Rottina wanted to broaden the subject of their documentary and were able to find the Green and Zimmerman families. Both families had biological children and then decided to adopt.
Unlike other documentaries that showcase someone else’s story, Find Me is as much about the journey of the filmmakers as it is about the families they showcase. The filmmakers are upfront that their movie isn’t Oscar-worthy and will not receive any journalistic award, but the lack of movie-making finesse does nothing to diminish the power of their story.
The viewer is taken on a surprising experience that is simply about love for children. We see the love of the people who work in Chinese orphanages and how they truly care for their children and want them to be happy. We see foster families who welcome children into their lives for several years those because they can’t be cared for in an orphanage setting, often because of disabilities. We watch the unconditional love of parents who embrace a child with no reservations, even though they have never met that child prior to adoption day.
We also come to the understanding that when someone loves, sorrow is often part present. This is because, as Kim Zimmerman said, “There are losses that are part of the adoption. It’s just a part of what adoption is.”
Oftentimes, the best stories are those that are not scripted or acted and do not have great sound effects or costumes, but simply show the human experience as it is. Find Me is one of those stories.