BRING MEI MEI HOME
Four-year-old U.S. citizen Rhonda "Mei Mei" Lan Zhang was kidnapped and taken to China. President Jiang Zemin and President Clinton are urged to facilitate her return.
An Introductory Message from Laura Hong and Tom Kovach
June 17, 1998
This website describes the abduction of our daughter, four-year-old U.S.-born Mei Mei (pronounced "may may"). On October 15, 1996, she was abducted by Sue Ping Chen, her mentally ill biological mother, and taken to Guangzhou (Canton), China. Mei Mei's foster mother, Laura Hong, has had physical custody by court order since March 1995 -- a right that has continued without interruption through the date of the kidnapping and to the present date.
In June of 1997, the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Court Division, also awarded Laura legal custody of Mei Mei and completely terminated the custody of the biological mother, and the custody of Cuyahoga County. You can read the Juvenile Court's order of June 26, 1997 on a separate page. (To reach other documents posted to this site, see the Links below.)
We grow more and more concerned for Mei Mei every day. Her abductor, Sue Chen, is a chronic schizophrenic. According to a May 18, 1996 story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sue Chen is no longer taking any medication. Based on past history and what we have heard from those close to Chen in China, Chen's behavior has become more and more irrational. We fear that it will lead to the sort of abuse and neglect which brought Mei Mei into our home in the first place.
Indeed, the head of the Cuyahoga County, Ohio Juvenile Court Diagnostic Clinic found Ms. Chen unfit to parent and a danger to Mei Mei in light of her chronic schizophrenia -- even while medicated -- and recommended that her parental rights be permanently terminated. In June, when the Juvenile Court did terminate her parental rights, it found that Sue Chen "suffers from a chronic mental illness that makes her unable to provide an adequate permanent home for the child."
We are also concerned that as her schizophrenia manifests itself, Ms. Chen may well find herself institutionalized in China. This would leave Mei Mei in equally grave danger: She is an illegitimate, English-speaking three-year-old born in the U.S., with no citizenship rights or privileges under Chinese law.
Mei Mei is an American citizen. Unfortunately, some of the authorities we have been dealing with see Mei Mei's Asian features and automatically conclude that she should remain "back in China." This is not merely a supposition on our part -- shortly after Mei Mei's kidnapping, those exact words were spoken by Carmen Marino, First Assistant to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor.
But obviously, Mr. Marino is wrong: Mei Mei is an American, legally and otherwise. She loves to go to baseball games at Jacobs Field and eat cotton candy while sitting in her foster father's lap; she adores Barney and Winnie the Pooh; she is a charmer who is, in all ways, "American." And right now, she desperately needs our help.
In order to help her, we need your help. On the next page you will find a press release issued on June 17, 1998, detailing efforts to persuade President Clinton to intervene on Mei Mei's behalf with Chinese President Jiang Zemin during their summit meeting in June of 1998. On the two pages that follow, you will find the background on Mei Mei's case, both before and after her abduction by Sue Chen. On another page called What You Can Do is a brief list of requested actions that you can take to help bring Mei Mei home. Addresses of relevant officials can be found on a page called Officials to Contact. From time to time, additional updates about this case are posted on the page called Recent Developments, so please bookmark this site and return.
We urgently need the help of officials at all levels of government. We will, of course, be forever grateful for whatever assistance you can provide.
Laura Kingsley Hong
Thomas G. Kovach
To the next page: Press Release of June 17, 1998
LAURA HONG TOM KOVACH LAURA HONG
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This site was last revised on June 17, 1998.
This page was last revised on June 17, 1998.