Coco Trentalancia (11) featured in screening of 2021 Netflix documentary “Found”


Ben Rafal, Staff Writer

“When I was on the podium, I was personally just bawling inside — however, I tried to be contained as much as I could as it was publicly filmed,” Coco Trentalancia (11) said. Trentalancia recently attended and spoke at an event for the 2021 Netflix documentary “Found,” directed by Amanda Lipitz.

The documentary tells the story of three Chinese girls living in the same orphanage in Guangzhou, China, separated at adoption. The film follows the girls, each of whom lives in the United States, as they find out they are related by blood. They travel back to China in search for their biological parents, Trentalancia said. “Personally, I am not in the film,” she said. “However, I was so honored to be fortunate enough to be reached out by my Rabbi, Angela Warnick Buchdhal, at my synagogue to come speak at an event.”

The event took place last Thursday and consisted of a movie screening and speeches from those involved. Trentalanica joined other speakers such as Buchdhal and Lipitz, she said. Trentalancia also met Chloe Lipitz, one of the girls featured in the film and the daughter of Eugene and Sari Lipitz. Trentalanica felt a connection to the girls as a Chinese adoptee in a multi-racial American family, she said. “They went to predominantly white institutions and constantly had been bombarded with questions about their identity and adoption.”

At the event, Trentalancia was also asked to discuss and reflect on her own experiences about her identity and Chinese heritage. “When I knew I was able to have this chance to really be involved with congregants in the community I thought it would be a great opportunity to further deepen my relationship with people,” she wrote.

Trentalancia was especially moved by the film’s demonstration that family comes in all forms, she said. She felt closely related to Chloe Lipitz through the intersectionality of benign Jewish, Chinese, and adopted. “I talked about how I related to [Lipitz] a lot as she was the only Chinese Adoptee who was Jewish in the film,” she said. “We both felt [a connection] with our Chinese side and being adopted, and being raised by American and Jewish parents.”

Trentalancia connected with the girls and their similar sense of loss and misplacement throughout the world as mutual adoptees, she said. During the event, she spoke about how many children and young adults like her must choose how to broadcast their identities to the world, Trentalancia said. “There is no one side to go on, it was mentioned in the film that when one of the girls were in America they felt ‘too Chinese’ and in China they stood out as being ‘too American and white.’”

When the girls return to China in the film, they did not feel a new, special connection to their Chinese background, Trentalancia said. She told the audience how she is far more engaged with her Jewish identity and that she has very little relationship to her Chinese side. “I was Bat Mitzvahed, confirmed at my synagogue, and am a member of my teen choir at synagogue as well as a teen member of Jews of Color, which is an affinity group,” she said. “In fact, I do not even celebrate Chinese New Year properly.”

Before speaking, Trentalancia became emotional during the screening because she had never previously opened up about her adoption publicly, she said. “I really did not prepare myself so I think all the emotions that I had bottled in for several years before just spilled out,” she wrote.

She dealt with her nerves prior to the event by creating a speech that truly resonated with her, so she would be able to speak naturally, Trentalancia said. “In fact, as the event went on, I never really even ended up using it as I just spoke from my heart,” she wrote.

Trentalancia hopes to become more involved with the director, and meet her niece who is in the film. “I would love to see her along with both the other girls in the film and their families sometime in the near future.”