(CNN)At first, it seemed like a classic celebrity romance.
Zheng Shuang, 29, was one of China's most popular actresses after shooting to fame a decade ago. Zhang Heng, 30, was a talented producer for a variety show. In 2018, the pair went public with a set of couple selfies, and often appeared affectionately in the spotlight afterward -- even co-starring in a popular reality series.
So fans were shocked when Zhang took to China's Twitter-like platform Weibo earlier this month to claim he has been stranded in the United States for more than a year, left alone to "take care of and protect two young and innocent lives."
The couple was believed to have split while two surrogate mothers they hired were pregnant with their kids, with Zheng accused of abandoning the babies.
A Chinese media outlet subsequently publicized alleged photos of the children's birth certificates, which showed they were born in December 2019 and January 2020 in the US. Zhang and Zheng were named as their parents.