On the eve of the Chinese Valentine’s Day at the Qixi Festival, Qian Fenxiang and Xu Lida were reunited with the daughter they were forced to abandon many years ago. Catherine Su Pohler, known as Kati, is a college student who was raised in America. It was an emotional reunion a long time in the making. Qian and Xu are still plagued with guilt and shame over their decision, but they are very excited that she is healthy and happy.

When they learned their were pregnant again, Qian and Xu hoped they could get away with having a second child, an act strictly prohibited by China’s one-child law. They thought the population of their city would provide them with  cover. As Qian passed the time frame for an abortion she heard horror stories from her friends who had tried. She heard tales of babies being killed. The couple became afraid and realized it was not safe for them to keep the baby. They hid with their three-year-old daughter on a houseboat for the last several months of her pregnancy. The delivery went fine, but the placenta wouldn’t drop. With great haste, Xu took her to a nearby clinic that promised they would not be reported.

Five days later Xu left the baby at a covered vegetable market with a note that read, “Our daughter, Jingzhi, was born at 10 am on the 24th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, 1995. We have been forced by poverty and affairs of the world to abandon her. 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.”

Ten years from that day the couple went to Broken Bridge and waited for hours holding up a sign with the details of her birth. The adoptive parents sent a friend, Wu, to look for them. They missed each other by a matter of minutes. As Wu was leaving she saw a TV crew and asked if they had seen anyone who looked like they had been waiting for someone. The crew rolled back the footage and saw Xu holding the sign. Wu contacted them and met to exchange info and photos. When Wu called the Pohlers to update them, she was instructed to end communication with them immediately.

They waited for Kati to make the decision whether or not to proceed once she was an adult. She expressed a desire to meet them, so the reunion on the bridge was arranged via a BBC documentary team. She stayed in their home for a few days. “I want some sort of relationship. I want to see them again. But the big question is, what are they to me? I don’t even know what to call them,” Kati said. “It’s good that I am more in touch with where I came from, but it is also confusing. I am a product of where I grew up and that is not Asian in any sense of the word.”