Woman’s Hour Audio featuring Kate & Debbie with Emma Barnett

In 1958, The Great Leap Forward was a campaign led by the Chinese Communist Party to reconstruct the country and its economy which resulted in mass starvation and famine. Thousands or people fled to the neighbouring state of Hong Kong, which was a British Colony at the time and many children – often girls – living in overcrowded HongKong orphanages we’re adopted by British families in the sixties. Both Kate and Debbie talk about their remarkable start in life. Link below


This was very kindly sent from Olivia Cope at BBC Woman’s Hour Radio Producer

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.

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.


“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.”


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.


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!


“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?”


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


Statement in response to South China Morning Post article


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


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 .

A Note from Debbie, UK HKAN Founder

It is with sadness that we heard Margaret Bryer passed away on 25th March 2020. We would like to thank her again for this informative and absorbing talk, and the support she gave our network.

This announcement from CFAB tells us about Margaret’s considerable involvement in Children and Families Across the Borders (formally ISS). http://cfab.org.uk/news/cfab-regrets-announce-passing-margaret-bryer

She has kindly given us a copy of her speech as there was great interest from the attendees to make it available on line. We would like to thank her for joining us and the work she has done over these many years.

This document must not be used without permission of UK HKAN

BAAF Blue Booklet

BAAF ‘Blue booklet’

Many of the UK based HK-born adoptees have a copy of the BAAF publication ‘The International Social Services UK Hong Kong Adoption Project 1960 -1970 | The historical context and the children’s homes’ – aka ‘the blue book’. This was an interim publication, before the release of the book ‘Adoption, Adversity & Afterwards’.
As you may know, BAAF merged with Coram in 2015. CoramBAAF have given UKHKAN a soft copy of the booklet with permission to upload it onto this website on the strict condition that nobody reproduces it in any format for any purpose.
There has been a delay in uploading the booklet but we will sort it out at the earliest opportunity. We would also like to take this opportunity to gently remind everyone that the blue book is copyright and therefore no part may be reproduced.