Woman adopted by American family reunited with Chinese birth parents

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- It was a simple letter, with a simple request.

"Is it possible that in 10 years that you could meet us on this bridge?"

The request to meet came from two Chinese parents who had abandoned their second-born child in a Chinese market. They had violated China's one-child policy, and their child -- Kati -- was adopted by Ken and Ruth Pohler.

"It was so heartfelt. And we thought, 'Oh my, these birth parents went through a difficult time," Ken remembered.

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Ken and Ruth Pohler

CBS News

The Pohlers never forgot that note with Kati's Chinese name. When she turned 10 in 2005, they sent a messenger to the bridge. Kati's birth father was there, and by chance, a Chinese TV crew captured him on tape.

"Holding a sign. The name on the sign was the name in the note," said Changfu Chang, a filmmaker.

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As a child, Kati Pohler said she wanted to know where she came from

CBS News

He was so compelled by the story, he made a documentary about it. The story became famous in China, but back in the U.S., the Pohlers remained silent.

"When I was little, I would ask my mom like, whose tummy did I come from," said Kati Pohler. "I realized that I didn't come from her tummy."

But the Pohlers didn't tell Kati until she was 20.

"They told my brothers about it. So I was the only one left in the dark," she said.

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Kati Pohler got to meet her birth parents in China at 22

CBS News

She admits that made her upset, but this summer, Kati finally got a chance to meet her birth parents a week after her 22nd birthday when she traveled to China. It was a reunion made all the more overwhelming by the barriers of both language and culture.  

"They are very real to me now," said Kati.

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.