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 .

Chinese New Year Reunion (Online) Saturday 20th February 2021

Hello Sisters & Brothers! 

UKHKAN has just hosted the second online reunion on Zoom it had amazingly 62 participants who had registered. For these meetings it is necessary for people to register via Zoom – to ensure that only members of the Hong Kong Adoptee Network can access our online reunions.  This helps us ensure a safe and private environment where you can feel confident to share your stories, thoughts and feelings.   

The outline programme was:

  • Welcome 
  • Mentimeter 1
  • Amanda Baden and Kit  Myers – who presented their research, Going Back “Home”: Adoptees Share Their Experiences of Hong Kong Adoptee Gatherings
  • Breakout rooms
  • Claire Martin – will talk about her experience of featuring as a Long Lost Family story
  • Claire’s episode was broadcast on Monday 8th February, 9pm, ITV, UK. A link can be found in the members area.
  • Mentimeter 2

HKAN online reunions are closed sessions with attendance by invitation only – invitations are sent to everyone on our email databases. We do not advertise the meetings, and respectfully ask you not to share the Zoom link with others.  If you know any Hong Kong-born adoptees who you think would like to attend, contact Debbie on hkadoptees@btinternet.com

My sincere thank you to both Kate and Sue for their sterling work to bring this well run zoom meeting together, a thank you for our wonderful speakers and all of you who attended to make this possible. It really is a delight to see so many familiar and new faces from primarily US, UK, Singapore and Hong Kong. Although we have been unable to meet in person Zoom has allowed us to cast our net wider and connect up with many more people around the world so that is definitely a plus in these difficult times as, the world is trying to cope with the pandemic. I am sure we are all waiting for the day that we can meet our family, friends and travel again to get back to a new normal, in the meantime we will schedule a another International Zoom call soon.

Stay safe and well Debbie, Kate & Sue

Going back Home Adoptees share their experiences of Hong Kong Adoptee Gathering

by Kit Myers and Amanda Baden

Results of Mentimeter 1 & 2

Hong Kong Adoptee Network 10th Anniversary International Reunion (Online) Saturday 5th December 2020

In 2019, realising the 10th anniversary of the HKAN was approaching, we started putting out feelers for a venue in London and had had a few tentative conversations with several people who expressed interest in helping us out. 

But in early 2020, a virus started to spread across the world scuppering our plans … or so we thought.  With the advent of Zoom, an international reunion from the comfort of our own living rooms became a distinct possibility… and so it took place on Saturday 5th December. 

This event was a celebration of the first international reunion of Hong Kong-born adoptees which took place in our birth country in 2010, and the development of the Hong Kong Adoptee Network over the last decade. 

We invited 3 people who have played key roles in the Network’s growth to speak about their contributions. We heard from Kim Rogers, creator of the Fanling Babies website; Winnie Davies, Hong Kong artist who has provided practical support with the 2010 and 2015 Hong Kong Reunions as well as individual birth family searches; and Julia Feast who conducted the BAAF study into our cohort, and who has remained a good friend to the Network since.  Their presentations are in the Private Members Area

A Note from Debbie Cook, Founder of the UK HKAN Group

WOW this is marvellous to have the technology to be able to connect with you all like this 10 years ago I was still the broadband on dial up… it was an incredible slow pace.  Internet and emails had only just started to become more common and accessible if you had a reasonable provider!

The UK HKAN group has grown so much over the 10 years, we were all eager then to learn so much about each other as we probably had spent most of our childhood thinking we were the only ones and all of sudden we had developed an extended family of sisters and brothers who would’ve thought it!   

As you will see from the PowerPoint slideshow it takes you through the 10 years of what we have achieved so much, it really is incredible!  (I apologise in advance if I have missed any event out but it maybe because I didn’t have any pictures/details)

I’d like to thank a few people who have made this possible, firstly my mother who contacted Kim Rogers who had written the “Fanling Babies Home” Website with many of the pictures given by Mei Yan.  After a little persuasion I corresponded with Kim who enabled me to connect with some more adoptees here in the UK, Diana was the second person that I had met, she encouraged me to connect more and arrange our first reunion/gathering.  Can you believe it we actually had our first few reunions in Chinese restaurants in Manchester and Birmingham.  

In 2010 six of us went out to Hong Kong to attend the first Worldwide Adoptee Reunion where we met others from all corners of the world.  It was staggering.   

Around this time Julia Feast from BAAF who headed the study of the girls that had been adopted through the ISS World refugee project.  She will be speaking later about her involvement.  The timing couldn’t have been better, and we saw our group grow frighteningly fast.  The help we received from Julia was amazing…Thank you

I would like to thank Kate for her involvement since we got back from that first reunion in 2010 she has been there managing and chairing these wonderful UK HKAN reunions. One in London and the other Birmingham annually (I really only like to be in the background honest!) 

I would like to thank other adoptees who have stepped up and helped our reunions especially when we have been looking for venues free or at a minimal cost.  

Both Sue and Kate and have been working together to organise this zoom meeting (As I am not as knowledgeable with the latest computer software available). A BIG THANK YOU AS I AM SUDRE YOU WILL AGREE IT WAS A MAMMOTH TASK

I would like to especially thank our speakers Winnie from Hong Kong (it is in the middle of the night), Julia Feast from Ex BAAF and Kim Rogers writer of the “Fanling Babies Home” website.

Lastly, I would also like to thank each and every one of you for attending the meeting as a celebration of our 10 years.  

Note

Please find all relevant presentations for this meeting in Talks, Docs and More (or click on links below)

1). Winnie Davis Transcript

http://www.hkadopteesnetwork.com/uk/talks-docs-more-info/winnie-davies-transcript/

2). Julia Feast Presentation

http://www.hkadopteesnetwork.com/uk/talks-docs-more-info/julia-feast-presentation-dec-20/

3). Kim Rogers Presentation (password protected)

http://www.hkadopteesnetwork.com/uk/talks-docs-more-info/kim-r-adoptee-talk/

4) A celebration of slides covering 10 years since the formation of UK HKAN Group by Debbie Cook (password protected)

http://www.hkadopteesnetwork.com/uk/talks-docs-more-info/uk-hkan-10-year-anniversary-slides/

http://www.hkadopteesnetwork.com/uk/talks-docs-more-info/uk-hkan-10-year-celebration-slide-show-presentation/

‘Access to these documents will only be given to members of the HKAN and those with a legitimate interest in the topic. Access decisions are made by the administrators and are final’.

Please contact Debbie for these by emailing request to hkadoptees@btinternet.com

COVID-19 A message of support – We will get through this

Dear Members it is with great regret and sadness that we have had to cancel any reunions this year – it would have been our 10th anniversary!

These are unsettling times and COVID-19 is clearly impacting our personal and professional lives, and those that we love. I wanted to wish you, your loved ones and fellow colleagues safe passage through this difficult period.

Please take care, stay positive and find sometime for having fun and smiling. It is challenging operating under the current restrictions; however, I am confident we will get through this, together.