HKAN Mid-Autumn Reunion Sunday 26th September 2021

This was a reunion with a difference. Chris Toy had volunteered in the previous reunion to demonstrate how to cook a typical Chinese dish.  This idea was received with great enthusiasm, an offer we could not refuse.

The meeting was started promptly as those who were cooking along with Chris had their broth on the stove and ingredients prepared and ready to go.  A list of ingredients and method had been sent to all the participants in advance, so that we could all purchase all the necessary ingredients and prepare.  See below.

Chris started off by telling us that the Chinese Wonton translation is that they are like floating clouds, because they float in the soup.  Chris showed us the many kinds of broths one could use if you didn’t want to make your own.

He told us that ginger, garlic, and scallions (spring onions) are the 3 main base ingredients in Chinese cooking, and he showed his expertise in using a meat cleaver. He demonstrated how to smash the garlic and ginger, and how one uses the knuckles to stop the cutting off one’s fingers.  Oooch!  In making the wonton filling, Chris said that one can add further ingredients such as chillies for those who like it hot. Shrimps can be added to the chopped/minced pork and even soya sauce. (Or for vegans one can substitute with vegetables etc).

Chris used a baseball metaphor to describe how he folded the wonton wrapper around the wonton filling.  He placed the wonton wrapper like a baseball diamond – the bottom is Home base and working anticlockwise Base 1, the top being Base 2, and Base 3 on the right.  During his demonstration he showed us 3 ways to fold the wrapper – as a triangle, a Bishop’s hat, and the latter, where he turned up the ends like ears and twists.  I think the latter is one that would take a little practice.

Those who cooked along with Chris were able to sample their own creations, leaving those that had opted to watch feeling very hungry! 

We had time at the end to ask Chris a few questions such as how to best store garlic and ginger.

Serena then did the group screen shot and a 10-minute break was called.

On our return we went into Breakout rooms. The theme for discussion was what food memories were triggered by cookery demo and one person was elected to speak on behalf of each group when we came back.

There was a very short discussion on the practicalities and ideas of a Book Club, which Chris had mentioned at the previous meeting.  As time was running out it was put to everyone to give their ideas direct to the committee for next time.

A request was to try and fix up another international reunion before the Christmas break and it was left to be considered.

Debbie thanked both Kate & Sue who arranged the reunion. 

A big Thank You to Chris and for everybody who attended.

.

Chris’ recipe: Basic Wonton Soup 

Serves 4 

Shopping list

2 quarts (2 litres) broth * Use prepared chicken or vegetable broth made from bouillon or stock cubes/powder, but you can use your grandmother’s secret recipe!

½ ounce dried sliced mushrooms – fresh can be used as well.

20 wonton wrappers * Remove the wonton wrappers from the fridge ten minutes before you intend to use them, to allow them to warm up.

(Seal and freeze unused wrappers or make extra wontons and freeze them for later!)

¼ lb. ground pork or favorite ground/chopped protein meat/seafood/vegan

1 clove fresh garlic crushed and minced (1 teaspoon of paste garlic is fine)

1 teaspoon fresh ginger crushed and minced (paste ginger is fine)

1 cup sliced bok choy/Pak choi or napa cabbage

2 scallions (spring onions) or chives minced (finely chopped)

¼ cup of water in a shallow cup or bowl – for sealing wontons

Instructions

Note: For the cooking class have the broth ready and simmering in a large pan.

1.                 Place dried sliced mushrooms in simmering broth.

2.                 Make wonton filling by combining ground pork crushed garlic, and crushed ginger in a bowl. 

3.                 Place a wonton wrapper so it looks like a baseball diamond with you sitting behind home plate.

4.                 Wet around the baselines with the water.

5.                 Place a teaspoon of the filling in the center, where the pitcher’s mound would be.

6.                 Bring home plate up to second base, folding the wrapper into a triangle, enclosing the filling, and seal the edges.

7.                 Bring the simmering broth to a rolling boil and drop the wontons in one at a time and cook for 1 minute.

8.                 Add and stir in the bok choy for 1 minute.

9.                 Squeeze the minced scallions and stir them into the soup.

10.             Serve immediately

SKILL SHARE

There are many different skills among HKAN members.   Chris has

demonstrated his cookery skills but what talent do you have that

you’d like to share?  Even if you don’t want to do a practical demo,

you could talk about your hobby or interest, maybe accompanied

by some photographs.  You can take anything from 4 to 40 minutes.

DIY          SEWING           DRAWING        SINGING

PHOTOGRAPHY              DANCING        WRITING

GARDENING            KNITTING        MODEL MAKING

DOG GROOMING      MECHANICS            TRAVEL

You name it – we want to hear about it

Chris Toy Demonstration Video

This is a big file so please be patient for it to download no more than about 10 mins

https://download.wetransfer.com/eugv/35bbb283a72bdd74dee5648beefbccc020210927200821/c6eb2429b16bcd5b08ed6f02024795dc25a94f2a/zoom_0.mp4?token=eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.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.4lq41f3Hu8Z8__St2b9G-Cove-oyGefi6sbeDvb8ekQ&cf=y

UK HKAN HOSTED AN INTERNATIONAL SUMMER REUNION ON SATURDAY 10TH JULY

Written by Sue Jardine

For those who have attended previous online reunions, the joining process will now be familiar – that of your arrival being announced by Debbie to those already on the call. This is usually followed by greetings to one another as you are spotted in the “room” and often a call out of “What’s the weather like where you are?!” Responses can be quite varied because of the international nature of this gathering. This meeting brought together HKAN members who live in the UK, USA, Canada, Singapore and New Zealand.

The meeting opened with a Welcome to everyone, especially those who either had to stay up very late or get up very early to be with us. The big news for the meeting was that our application for a grant from NSUN has been successful. This will support us to continue to have our online meetings and, all being well, to organise our first face to face meeting in the autumn, which will take place in London.

Attendees of this, our Summer reunion, were invited to share photos or images related to the theme of “my relationship/attitude to Hong Kong”. Kate talked about how her relationship to Hong Kong has changed over time and she shared photos she had taken when visiting Hong Kong and the special meaning they had for her. Debbie had selected photos, which were taken from slides she has cleaned and digitised, from a collection on loan to her by Mary Ogden’s son. Mary Ogden was a nurse at Fanling Babies Home (FBH) in 1955.The photos included activities such as a child having a haircut, and the older girls doing everyday tasks of supervising toddlers whilst on their potties, feeding the babies and preparing vegetables for a meal. Serena bought Hong Kong to life by showing us some of her wonderful paintings which were inspired by her visits there. These were scenes depicting Big Buddha, Hong Kong harbour, Hong Hong’s distinctive skyline, street life and the trams near Happy Valley Race course.

Following the presentations breakout rooms were set up to enable small group conversations and the opportunity to get to know other members of the network. 

The last part of the meeting was given to free discussion. A couple of suggestions worth noting were:

*New* Book and the idea of setting up a book club

 Interior Chinatown, Charles Yu, 2020

Cooking tip and an exciting offer of an online cookery lesson for our next international meeting.

Use refined avocado oil when using a wok. In high-heat cooking it has a very high smoke point of at least 400ºF.

As is often the case, final comments before the close of the meeting were about food!

 Another fantastic reunion.

It was great to see everyone and a big Thank You to our presenters, to the organisers, and to all of you for making our time together engaging and fun.

We are pleased to announce UK HKAN has been awarded a grant by NSUN Side by Side Fund.

The fund aims to support peer support, mutual aid or self-help groups who benefit people or communities who live with mental ill-health, trauma and distress.  The grant will enable us to continue keeping Hong Kong-born adult adoptees connected in a safe, welcoming and supportive space – online and face-to-face. 

‘We are grateful to NSUN for their support”. 

Link now available to NSUN website.

Very interesting when you can see all 37 groups that have been supported with this grant.
https://www.nsun.org.uk/projects/our-grants/side-by-side-fund-grantee-profiles/

Hong Kong Adoptee Network Impact Survey — May 2021

In addition to the anonymous Surveymonkey poll, we asked the question: ‘what difference have the HKAN meetings made to you?’ Responses came from across the international network: UK. Hong Kong, Singapore, CJS & Canada. Unfortunately, the timings of the meetings have so far meant members in the Southernmost region Australia and New Zealand have not been able to join in

Below are some of the wonderful replies we received and permission has been kindly given to put onto our website.

Thank you to all for participating.

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“HKAN Zooms have been a vital source of support for me during lockdown. I live alone and for the second lockdown did not have a support bubble. Even though I’m based in a part of the UK which is very diverse –  meeting up with people, with whom I share a similar heritage, was difficult. The HKAN has given me a sense of belonging and identity over the years and during successive lockdowns its Zooms were indispensable to my well-being.”

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I have found the HKAN Zoom meeting hugely interesting, informative, supportive and well organised. I feel very comfortable with the group as we all have much in common and therefore an understanding and empathy for each other.

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It has been interesting, educational, and inspiring to meet fellow adoptees! Before learning about HKAN I had not realized it was possible to connect with others who were essentially my “orphan siblings”. I’m now considering how to find out more about my origins and time at PLK. THANKS!

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“When I attended the 1st reunion, I was overwhelmed with the size of the group, but after getting to know them they are all good friends.Throughout the years I have not been able to discuss my early life with anyone. I have always held back from talking to people.Since attending the HKAN reunions and talking to people with very similar experiences I feel more relaxed and able to talk about my history.I no longer feel so alone and when people get nosey, about my history I find it easier to talk to people. Even when I get asked “did you come to the UK with your parents?”

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A warm welcome is what I get when I attend the virtual HKAN meetings. Participating in these HKAN ZOOM meetings gives me the emotional feeling of belonging, that is so important for my mental wellbeing especially during the pandemic where we all were asked to stay indoors for what seemed to be an eternity. It’s inspirational to see/hear fellow Hong Kong adoptees  rallying around each other and providing peer support of empathy, understanding, smiles of acceptance, affirmation nods, and uplifting laughter…all to say that I no longer feel so alone and  that we have a strong network of about my history I find it easier to talk to people. Even support surrounding us! I’m encouraged that the group is reaching out for grant funding so HKAN may continue to offer the service of healthy connection that has been so beneficial to date. 

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What difference participating in HKAN meetings makes to me. 

Many years ago, when I was feeling (l thought) secure. strong and had a good sense of my identity as an international adoptee, I found that I was one of over 100 adoptees, brought from Hong Kong to the UK. This was a big surprise, and it took some years to get used to the idea there were more like me, and even more used to the idea that they might see me as a sister. (Practically all the adoptees were girl babies/children). 

Over the decade that I have been part of the UKHAN group, I have participated in many meetings. And hosted one of my own in my hometown. And got used to the idea of being called a sister, and gradually allowed myself to know, and view some of my fellow adoptees as ‘sister’ too. And realised how being part of the group, sharing our similarities and differences, gave me a stronger sense of security and identity. My sisters have accompanied me on the highs and lows of my life journey, and during the past 2 years it would be fair to say that this journey has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Without the meetings, to share and process what only other women who have experienced adoption, of a similar nature, there is no doubt my life would less rich. Less meaningful, less whole. I may not have the sister I should have from my adoptive family, as we areas unconnected as I am connected to my adoptive sisters, but this is made more bearable through being part of UKHAN. Without being able to meet on Zoom, throughout Covid, and during what has been a particularly challenging time of my life, I would have struggled harder to make sense of recent global, community and personal life changes. It is hard to capture in words exactly how being part of the group and being able to meet and continue to meet virtually hashelped my emotional wellbeing, but it has, and for this I am grateful.

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I really enjoy participating in HKAN meetings for the opportunity to share experiences especially hearing about the searches some have undertaken to find their birth families and learn more about our own Hong Kong root, and the orphanages. Also like the social aspect of our meets and the great bonds of support and wonderful friendships that have formed and deepened over time, from across the world.

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Thanks for all you are doing in keeping up the momentum of the group and being so pro-active. If I were living in the UK, I would definitely participate more but living abroad all these years has kept me on the fringe of the group in many ways.

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I have participated in several of the UK HKAN group meetings. I have learned a lot about my own Chinese Heritage and had the opportunity to meet others like myself. I felt like we are a family and the knowledge that there are others in the world who were also adopted from Hong Kong and share similar experiences. Has made me feel more secure in my own identity.  I have also been lucky to find my own biological sister through the 23 DNA program and this has brought me Joy! I enjoy listening and sharing other stories and learning about each other through the ZOOM media. I hope it will continue and we all can benefit from sharing with each other. 

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Participating in the HKAN has helped me to connect to other adoptees who have been through the same experiences. It has helped me to start my search to try and find my adoptive case notes and possibly my birth family. Information about DNA. To make new friends who are also Chinese. A lovely social event to meet new people.

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Thank you to Members

Whilst Covid-19 has been a time of uncertainty and difficulty for many people & families,  it has presented a unique opportunity for HKAN.  We have proven that when faced with no other choice, we can adapt in how we use ‘Technology’.

Whilst face to face reunions will never replace the fantastic International and UK Zoom meetings it has given all of us a chance to connect with each other from all over the world even juggling the different times but we got there!

Personally I would like to Thank Kate who has the wonderful skills of bringing these meetings together, Sue for her eye for details, our speakers and to all the participants that have made these Zoom meetings possible.  (And keeping me right!).

UK HKAN hosted an International Spring reunion held on Saturday 24th April

The Zoom link was only sent to people who accepted the email invitation – to ensure that only members of the Hong Kong Adoptee Network can access our online reunions.  This helps ensure a safe and private environment where participants are confident to share their stories, thoughts and feelings.   

Kate and Sue Welcomed everybody to the meeting.

Guest Speaker:  Meaghan GILBERT (Chiu Oi-Yan) relating the history of Muriel TONGE, Supervising Nurse of St. Christophers’ Orphanage, Hong Kong.

Meaghan commenced her presentation by explaining how her life was changed during her adventures in China and after obtaining her records from the Social Services in HK.

On her return back home and with the help of media attention she was able to contact Muriel TONGE (nee KITCHEN), who sent her the Book ‘The Banquet: My Grandma’s Memories of China’, by Emily FOSTER.

For those who have not read this book briefly: Muriel KITCHEN, was born to Christian Missionary parents in China and lived during the turmoil of: battling warlords, the Japanese invasion, and the rise of Chinese Communism.  She obtained a nursing degree in Canada, where she married Walton TONGE before she returned to China with her new husband.  They were eventually expelled from China by the Communist regime and they settled in Hong Kong, where Muriel worked as the Supervising Nurse at St. Christophers’ Orphanage (from 1958 – 1962)

Muriel always said that she hated the word ‘Abandoned’ in relation to children in her care and preferred the term ‘Re-Gifted Children’, I am sure we can all resonate with that.  She also said that: ‘where you start in life does not have to determine where you belong’.

In the Circle of Life we are all connected

What is remarkable is that in 1947 Muriels’ mother who was on a plane that caught fire, she took hold one of the babies and jumped out of the plane but unfortunately only the baby survived.  Several years later when Meaghan was in China she located the Sole Survivor of that plane and was able to connect Muriel with the survivor.

We were all treated to the wonderful 8mm video footage that Muriel had given to Meaghan because miraculously she is in this clip.  To see oneself at a such a tender age was very emotional as so many of us do not have anything of our earlier life. 

It was fascinating and a very moving presentation from Meaghan so a big Thank You.  There were many questions asked after the breakout rooms to allow Meaghan to have a breather as it was quite emotional and a personal account

This Presentation was recorded with the consent of Meaghan and can be found in ‘Members’ Presentations, because of the personal nature of Meaghan’s presentation, we want to ensure it is viewed by HKAN members only. Therefore, an extra layer of security has been put into place, which requires authorisation from Debbie before it can be accessed.

Step 1

Please check you have set up the following as you will need these to access the presentation

  • HKAN personal password – to Login the Members Area
  • Protected Presentations password – request from Debbie
  • Gmail account (free) – to gain authorisation to view the presentation

Screenshots were taken before we were split into smaller groups and sent to Breakout rooms which allowed us all to catch up and talk to different people.

Then by magic we were all then transported back to the main group where a general discussion took place and questions could be asked to Meaghan.

At the end Kate did her Survey which is quite interesting to see the results of why we want this group and what we get out of it. 

Debbie closed the meeting Thanking both Kate and Sue for organising the International Zoom Meeting, A special Thank you to Meaghan our guest speaker and all the participants to make this successful.

Statement in response to South China Morning Post article

https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/long-reads/article/3127995/abandoned-babies-and-adopted-western-parents?fbclid=IwAR2d1XIeUuCWN9WBhqqMZ9B5Ef8LInph-XQOuenladilG4xY5ePutNjxEkw

There were many good points made in the article. However, we wish to remind UKHKAN members of the following: 

  • The UK Hong Kong Adoptee Network is a social network – we organise opportunities for members to meet (in person and online), share stories, exchange information. From time to time, we invite speakers to present on topics such as accessing adoption records, DNA tests, history of Hong Kong orphanages, etc;
  • We neither encourage nor discourage members to undergo DNA tests – this is a deeply personal decision that everyone must make for themselves;
  • We do not have any researchers working for us, nor are we part of a broader on-going DNA project;
  • We are not a DNA registration agent. 

It is regrettable if anyone has been misled by the SCMP article into contacting UKHKAN in the belief we will help them undertake a DNA search for birth family.   We do not have the resources for this and in any case -as already stated above- it is outside UKHKAN’s remit. 

Debbie Cook – UKHKAN Founder

Kate Gordon – Organiser 

Sue Jardine – Organiser

16/4/2021

UKHKAN Reunion Saturday 20th March 2021

Having hosted two online international meetings of the Hong Kong Adoptee Network, we felt it was about time we held a meeting for the UK network.  The meeting was open to UK ‘ex-pats’ living in Hong Kong and in other parts of the world. 

Taking on board feedback from the two previous meetings, we eschewed speakers / presentations and opted for an ‘open space’ approach.  People had said they enjoyed the breakout rooms as it gave them an opportunity to meet and talk more intimately with other members.   After the first breakout which was a catchup period, we used Mentimeter Word Cloud to identify what topics people wanted to discuss in the second breakout.  

DNA was a popular topic with roots/birth family searching and records tracing also mentioned.  We set up 5 themed rooms with people able to join the room/s of their choice: Roots tracing -DNA; Roots tracing -using records; Roots tracing -other aspects; Identity & Belonging; Creating a shared database 

Some of the points that came out of the discussions: 

  • Difficulties experienced by people based on their Chinese/East Asian appearance – some amusing, some embarrassing, racist elements involved 
  • The impact of roots tracing on other family members 
  • A database capturing various pieces of information would enable commonalities to be identified and connections to be made. Participating would be entirely voluntary including the data fields and level of information.  A number of issues would need to be sorted out eg levels of access

In the wider discussion that followed the feedback, a suggestion was made for a mentoring scheme. There was also a query about whether UKHKAN had considered grants to enable people undergoing roots tracing to return to Hong Kong. It was explained that most funding bodies will only give grants to constituted groups with financial track record (audited accounts).  The National Lottery is organised into regions so can be difficult for national groups to fit into the scheme.  

We concluded the Reunion with a word cloud to find out how people were feeling: 

Great News

One of our UK HKAN Adoptees Joanna B has successfully found some of her siblings and she would like to share the process with you.

Year of the Ox began fireworks for FUNG Fung Yee

  • When I went to Hong Kong for the adoptees’ gathering five years ago 2015, I requested my files from Po Leung Kuk children’s home/ Social Welfare Department/ The International Social Services there.
  • Lots of the group were curious about their birth parents (like Claire from ITV Long Lost Family episode last month) but because I knew I had been orphaned I decided to query the whereabouts of three older siblings.
  • HK media published what information some adoptees and I had, and I left the records I accumulated with Winnie a local searcher (look4mama)
  • ISS case worker Jolian tracked my next older brother to NY 2016 whom I eventually got to meet and stay with 2017 with his Chinese wife also introduced to their grownup son who looks like me.
  • I subsequently tried The Red Cross Tracing Service for their help in finding OUR eldest two 2019 but they couldn’t so I nudged Winnie again (she has been investigating lots of abandonment cases ever since the original reunion with surprising results)
  • Ultimately, she discovered BOTH brother and sister living there, with their own families ~ also the uncle that had adopted them in 1962, now 90yrs 
  • Since having done the 23andMe DNA test revealing my 5th cousin match with Claire plus other distant relatives this links to Fung father’s or Yau mother‘s relevant ancestry .