In spring 2008 after watching my work on international adoption, Bill Mudd of Seattle contacted me. I was fascinated and shocked by the story he told me. Given the size of the Chinese population, how could an adopted child even find the birth parents? And what was it like to meet the birth parents and to know their gut-wrenching accounts? Already enough drama there! Yet, more serious question loomed: Why does an adoptee want to find the birth parents in the first place?
I watched the home video that documents the first trip with great interest. Here, two otherwise totally unrelated families from two continents struggled awkwardly to keep conversation going through poor translation, each laboriously piecing together a story that was clearly very deep and complicated, while Ricki, the center of all the attention, appeared to have no clue at times. Just as a good show never disappoints the inquisitive viewer, the adoptive parents, on behalf of Ricki, made a promise to the birth parents that Ricki will come back when she is 18.
I jumped on the idea and thus, after over 6 years of production, we now present this documentary feature, RICKI’S PROMISE.
There are good films on adoptees going to meet their birth family after years of separation. RICKI’S PROMISE, however, is one of a kind, significant and timely. In recent years, an increasing number of adoptees and their families go to China to look for information about their past. No other film provides a more visceral account of the struggle and choice that a Chinese-American adoptee has faced. Through her unique encounters in China in the web of intricate relations and narratives, Ricki takes her entire generation on a trip that defines their collective American identity.
Because Ricki is positioned to penetrate in Chinese life and society, our documentary can take on several important issues more directly and contextually, in particular, the impact of the controversial One-Child policy and the role and expectations of a daughter in Chinese society. We hope this film will engage the entire generation of adoptees as they come to grips with some profound issues down the road.
The film is not just an adoption story. It’s a universal story that relates to all of us. The film helps us understand who we are, what our values are, and how our values impact our decisions.
I feel extremely lucky to have the trust and cooperation from Ricki and her two families over the years providing unlimited access to their worlds; I am also indebted to our committed and talented international team working efficiently in harsh conditions.