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TV Preview: Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy, PBS, August 31

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Since 1992, when China opened its doors to international adoption, American families have adopted more than 70,000 Chinese children. Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy tells the story of one such adoption.

The Sadowskys are a Long Island Jewish family. The parents, Donna and Jeff, had two sons (Jason, 15, and Jared, 12) and a three-year-old daughter, Darah, who was adopted from China. They decided to adopt another daughter, and while the whole family is enthusiastic about the adoption, Darah stipulates that she wants an older sister.

Donna and her father travel to China so the Sadowskys can adopt Fang Sui Yong (an 8-year-old who was abandoned at the approximate age of two).

How hard it must be to be removed from all that you know, and placed in an alien environment surrounded by unfamiliar faces, where no one understands you and you understand no one. Given a new name, Faith, Fang Sui Yong struggles to maintain her sense of self, yet adapt to her new home.

Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy shares her struggles, along with those of her adopted family.  We know that the faster she assimilates, the easier her life will be in many ways, but we also know that maintaining her identity is crucial. Could any of us easily be imprinted with the new (strange) while retaining ties to the old (familiar)?

Director/Producer Stephanie Wang-Breal provides the viewer with an intimate look at the frustrations both the adopting family and adopted child experience as they redefine their family. While sympathizing with Faith’s dilemma, mother Donna is challenged to maintain discipline while nurturing this reluctant new American.

This first film in POV’s three-part Adoption Stories is a deeply affecting look into the joys and adjustments that accompany transracial adoptions. It wouldn’t hurt to keep the tissues nearby for there are some heartbreaking moments among the happy ones.

Well-made and intensely involving, Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy is a very personal exploration of the transracial adoption experience. It will be aired on PBS Tuesday, August 31, at 10 p.m. (eastern), and streaming online from September 1 through November 30 at www.pbs.org/pov/video.

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