An Account of the UK HKAN Reunion in Birmingham on 6th October 2012 contributed by Yvonne Gee:
Since returning home, I have spent some more time, reflecting on our B”ham w/e, and was struck by the level of sharing that takes place, for example
At this latest Reunion, some members brought and kindly allowed us to read their Social Care Reports, these were written by the Hong Kong Social Services worker in charge of our case, and became the Report sent to prospective Adoptive Parents in the UK. Briefly they outline the circumstances in which each child would have been found, the location and date. Then goes on to describe the child’s orphanage environment, their typical day, appearance, character, and any medical details.
With the distance of some fifty years, and the allowances for differences in language and vast changes in Social Care protocols, they made interesting reading, which no doubt would also be of great significance and interest to a student of Social Care history today. We have previsoulsy been cautioned that the language and wording in our documentation may reflect the times and would not be considered acceptable or paleatable particularly with our current climate of political correctness.
We had the rare opportunity to peruse these Social Care Reports over our fabulous buffet supper at the excellent Cafe Soya. This sharing of the reports for me, was a wonderous and amazing act of generousity & kindness. I guess that for me, I still hold some residual hesitancy and sense perhaps of shame, about my early circumstances, so for the two women who had brought their reports and so bravely (to my mind) let others read them, I give my thanks and total respect. Reading them, has made me seek out my own documentation upon returning home, and I re-read my SCR numerous times, that now I can feel proud and re-claim my own inheritance and story with my head held high. I know that this is only my personal experience, and not neccessarily that of others in this group – but does for me speak of how deeply held our wounds are. Inadvertently, certainly not intentionally, were these statements, judgements, remarks madeover us young, as yet unformed characters, when beleaguered and no doubt overworked social workers were trying their very best to secure a stronger more postive future for each one of us.
So it was with much hilarity and good humour that we had the priviledge & honour to read these, my aplogies in advance if I cause offence by saying that we laughed &lau ghed, over such quotes: ‘She’ looks far better than she appears in her photograph. Or another: ‘Her’ motor skills are good, evidenced by her tendancy to snatch toys from other children’. Or ‘She’ doesn’t like furry things and is afraid of her Teddy Bear. or Notice when an aluminium dish is dropped to the floor ‘She” jumps as if startled.’
The latter led me to observe that, perhaps that old aluminium pot must have been well dented, as I wonder if the orphanage workers, to lighten their overworked routine didn’t simply sneak up on the poor unsuspecting toddlers and deliberately drop that pot to the floor, just for the fun of the reaction!
My own report contains the statement: She doesn’t like innoculations and when *blood is taken from her, she gets angry.
(*Blood was not routinely extracted from children, it was only taken in my case, because I had to undergo extensive orthopaedic surgery.) And another quote also mentions being easily started and fear of loud noises: when crossing the road, she appears to be frightened. and another: She is a very quiet child and speaks very softly who will need to be encouraged to speak out and speak with more volume. Presumably something that I did master, as this clearly is no longer a problem for me today!
I wonder that perhaps we were all raised in an atmosphere of submission and docility. My report makes mention due to the often large numbers of children in their care orphanage workers would require obedience and compliance. And my recollections are of ordered behaviour, straight lines marching out for meals and to the toilet, and an atmosphere of calm and serenity. Which thinking back is extraordinary considering the enormous numbers living together.
8 October 2012
St Albans, Herts