Little Liwen (9) returns to Irish screens for TV3's Adoption Stories
TV3 is revisiting some of the nation's most heart-wrenching adoption stories, beginning with a Chinese girl who is starting to ask questions about her background.
Liwen Flanagan (9) was adopted by Angela Martin and Ciaran Flanagan, from Stamullen, Co Meath, and was immediately welcomed to the family home by their three sons, Kyran, Tommy and Sean.
The family's journey featured in the documentary series Adoption Stories, in 2010, and now viewers have the opportunity to catch up with Liwen as she begins to ask about her birth mother and China's former one-child policy which led to her adoption.
"It seems so long ago now," Angela told the Herald.
"When we were growing up in Ireland, the issue of adoption was always around us, whether it was friends or neighbours who had been adopted, so it was always something we had been aware of.
"One day, we saw a photograph in a newspaper of a little girl who had been abandoned and left to die because of the one-child policy. That is when we really became aware of the situation in China. We thought it would be great to get one of the little girls."
It took three years to process, but eventually the couple were offered a little girl, and brought Liwen home to Ireland.
"She settled in fabulously," Angela said. "The only thing was that she had night terrors, but they went away after a few months and then she wasn't an ounce of bother."
Liwen's parents began the process again in order to give her a sister, but a change in policies in China made it more complex the second time round.
"I started panicking because I was coming up to 40 and would almost be too old if we were going to have one ourselves.
"The night we stopped filming the original Adoption Stories, I took a pregnancy test, and now Liwen has a little sister, Moya (4)," she said.
When the opportunity arose to film Adoption Stories - What Happened Next, Liwen was very excited to return to the screen, and loved every minute of it.
"She is a normal kid. I'd see her the same as I'd see every nine-year-old, although she may ask some questions which you wouldn't get from a child living with their birth family.
"As she gets older, we give more in-depth answers which are age appropriate. We don't see her as 'being adopted'. We're an ordinary family."
Adoption Stories - What Happened Next airs on January 5, at 8.30pm, on TV3.