Return to Sender (2012 Broadcast)
[THE FULL EPISODE IS ONLY AVAILABLE INSIDE CANADA]
Return to Sender is the emotionally charged story of a 9-year old girl named Alexandra whose life is turned upside down after her Canadian adoptive parents send her back to Romania. Many years later, Alexandra returns to North America to try to understand what happened during that very traumatic time in her life, but also to try to regain her identity. No matter what the intention, the adoption was not officially undone, and so without proper identification, Alexandra was unable to go to school in Romania and unable to find a job.
It all began in 1991, just after the fall of communism when Romania was in a state of chaos. Alexandra’s mother was on her own, trying to feed eight children and not coping very well. That’s when she decided to give her nine-year-old daughter up for adoption with the hopes of her having a better life in Canada. With a new birth certificate and a new passport, life for Alexandra was looking up. After five months her new life in Canada was over. Her adoptive parents sent her back to Romania, on a plane…alone.
The documentary follows Alexandra as she struggles to understand why her mother agreed to the adoption. Then she journeys to Canada to find her adoptive parents to ask why they sent her back. She also longs to be reunited with her brother, Christi, who was adopted by another Canadian family at the same time.
Canadian director Mary Anne Alton met Alexandra in October 2003 while in Romania shooting another film about the children of that country. She felt compelled to help her tell her story and returned to Bucharest in July 2004 to start filming Return to Sender.
Return to Sender is narrated by Megan Follows and directed by Mary Anne Alton and co-produced by Mary Anne Alton and Deborah Parks for Lemm Communications Inc. in association with the CBC.
Update since first broadcast in 2005
In February 2005 after the documentary premiered, Alexandra took legal action against the government of Canada, and her adoptive parents.
The government of Canada granted Alexandra and her now 2 children Canadian citizenship, and she returned to Canada with them in June 2009.
A settlement was reached with the adoptive parents in 2010.
In May 2005, Alexandra’s adoptive mother launched legal action against the CBC and the producer of the documentary.
Return to Sender was not aired while the case was before the courts.
In 2011, the lawsuit was dismissed on consent, without costs. CBC can now broadcast the documentary again unchanged.