According to Sohu Entertainment, Zheng Shuang (郑爽) and Zhang Heng (张恒) both appeared in the District Court of Denver, Colorado on March 22 for the first custody hearing for their two children. Zheng Shuang expressed in court that she is currently staying at an apartment in Denver. Her visa will allow her to stay in the US for 6 months and revealed that she doesn’t have any plans regarding her acting career. When asked if she will be returning to China, Zheng Shuang responded, “It depends on the children’s arrangement.” She is currently not working and is focused on the children’s custody.
Zheng Shuang’s Testimony
Zheng Shuang revealed in court that she turned to surrogacy due to her health condition. Because of work, she would often diet, which resulted into problems with her heart. She was afraid there would be risks in getting pregnant and stressed it wasn’t due to work concerns for not carrying her children herself. The decision to choose surrogacy was Zheng Shuang and Zhang Heng’s joint decision.
According to Zheng Sheng, she wasn’t notified when her children were about to be born nor was she given the hospital’s address, explaining why she wasn’t present at their births. She wasn’t aware Zheng Heng was in the US at the time and claims he never notified her when they were born. She contacted the surrogacy organization in February 2020 to inquire on the situation. On February 12, 2020, Zheng Shuang created a WeChat group with the surrogacy agency and her lawyer. She tried to add Zheng Heng to the chat, but he would leave the chat nonstop.
On July 24, 2020, Zheng Shuang claims she only found out information about the children after receiving an email from Zhang Heng’s lawyer. In addition to information about the children’s births and whereabouts, she also received a request for her to give up custody of the children.
Zheng Shuang explained she didn’t travel to the US at once because she felt there wouldn’t be any effective communication between her and Zheng Heng. She mentioned she was afraid once she appeared in the US, Zhang Heng would expose the news about their children with their secret recording of both families’ discussion about the future of the children from August 2020. Zheng Shuang expressed, “I couldn’t go to the US even though I really wanted to go and protect the children.” She said she had immediately looked for flights and was prepared to go through quarantine at the time.
In February 2021, Zheng Shuang arrived in Denver and rented an apartment. She had also bought baby supplies. Zheng Shuang claims that she mentioned she wanted to see the children, but Zhang Heng didn’t agree. On March 10, 2021, Zheng Shuang finally saw her children at a park. Zhang Heng and his mother were present along with Zheng Shuang’s friend and a parenting coach. Zheng Shuang’s side claims that when she first interacted with the children, they seemed to slowly accept her, but they claim once Zhang Heng got close, the children felt uneasy and were about to cry. The parenting coach supposedly spoke with Zhang Heng and he moved further away a bit. Zheng Shuang continued to interact with the children and said her daughter fell asleep in her arms. She said she felt very excited at the time, but tried her best to control her emotions to allow them to trust her.
Zheng Sheung said she had a detailed plan on her future with the children. She proposed to see the children everyday for at least an hour. After getting familiar with the children gradually, she hopes to see the children on Monday, Wednesday, Friday for 2-3 hours. If their relationship progresses further, she hopes to have the children stay over at her place. She expressed that she is willing to put her children’s needs above her own, “because I am the children’s mother. I will definitely bear my own responsibility.” She also felt Zhang Heng didn’t place their children’s needs above his own because he exposed the information about their children and allowed the public and the media to discuss about them.
In her closing statements, Zheng Shuang said she hopes to see her children soon. She expressed, “They don’t really know how to speak right now. I don’t wish to miss out on the first time they speak.” Zheng Shuang hopes to jointly raise the children with Zhang Heng and agreed to them getting their passports with a trusted third party who will keep the passports.
Zhang Heng’s Testimony
After Zheng Shuang’s testimony, it was Zhang Heng’s turn to speak. He expressed that after breaking up with Zheng Shuang, he claims he discovered Zheng Shuang wanted to give away the children for adoption. He felt this was not acceptable in his own moral standards. He mentioned Zheng Shuang had once proposed to terminate the surrogates’ pregnancies, but Zhang Heng said he was strongly opposed to it. It was Zhang Heng who contacted the surrogacy agency and traveled to the US to welcome the birth of their children.
In Zhang Heng’s account of the children seeing Zheng Shuang for the first time, he claims their son, Lucas, was crying and ran to him, while their daughter, Luna, was also crying, but stood idly without moving. He recounted after 30 minutes, Zheng Shuang went to a corner and left the children with her friend and parenting coach. The coach supposedly told Zhang Heng that even though he was far from the children, but his presence made the children nervous. Zhang Heng called his lawyer to communicate with the parenting coach. The coach expressed to Zhang Heng to soothe the children’s emotions and after they’re stable, send them to Zheng Shuang so she can play with them. They also said to have Zhang Heng step back further, which he complied with, but he says the children were still very nervous.
Zhang Heng claimed when he was still with Zheng Shuang, she told him that she didn’t have much patience towards children. She wanted to have children because Zhang Heng had patience and hoped that after the children were born, he could take care of them. He said after they were born, he sent a message to Zheng Shuang, but she didn’t respond.
From 2018-2020, Zhang Heng recollected that Zheng Shuang kept telling him that her condition wasn’t stable. He claims in 2018 and 2019, Zheng Shuang told him and her mother that she had issues with depression and wanted to commit suicide. From June 2018 to August 2018, Zheng Shuang was filming a movie. She locked herself in the room and wouldn’t eat, sleep, or turn on the lights. She wouldn’t carry on with her filming commitments either. Zhang Heng was in the UK on a work trip and Zheng Shuang’s father called him to return to China to take care of her. He said in 2019, Zheng Shuang bought medicine from Tao Bao and said if she took 20 pills she could die. He thought she was kidding, but one day, she was prepared take the pills. Zhang Heng came home just at that moment and stopped her. He claims he had thought of ways to make her see a doctor, but Zheng Shuang wouldn’t agree. Zheng Shuang told him she is a celebrity, this is her privacy.
Because of this, Zhang Heng felt Zheng Shuang’s emotions weren’t stable. If the kids were to be with Zheng Shuang, he would have huge concerns. The judge reportedly required Zheng Shuang to get a psychiatric evaluation. He even said, “I can’t send the children to the hands of a person who abuses animals because Zheng Shuang once abused dogs before.” Zhang Heng expressed he can’t raise the children with Zheng Shuang, but is willing to make decisions for the children with her in the future. He also said that before Zheng Shuang gets a psychiatric evaluation, he wishes for the time she spends with the children to be limited.
There are reports from the court hearing that Zheng Shuang had once sent a picture of hair all over the floor to Zhang Heng and allegedly said if he keeps forcing her, she would get ordained as a female monk. The judge asked Zhang Heng if he knew what this meant, which he said he didn’t understand.
This custody hearing reportedly lasted up to 8.5 hours. The next court hearing is set to take place on April 6. Aside from the custody hearing, Zheng Shuang is also facing a lawsuit from the film company that invested in her 2016 series, “Jade Lovers”, that has yet to air.