An account of the April 2018 London Reunion
The UK Hong Kong Adoptee Network gathered again on Saturday, 28thApril, 2018 in the Bishop Ho Ming Wah Association & Community Centre in the Church of St Martin-in-the Fields at Trafalgar Square.
Claire kindly ‘volunteered’ to do the write up for the website. We are very grateful for her enthusiastic contribution. The edited highlights are below:
With 14 of us, it was a quieter affair than previous network meetings in London. Of course, we were delighted as ever to see Julia Feast join us for the first part. We had four newcomers, so the smaller group may have been a good thing as it seems to me there’s something quite introverted about many of us. Kate had created a loose plan to give some structure to the meeting. Everyone was asked to introduce herself (no men on this occasion), and state one thing they would like to do or talk about. Those topics formed the ‘agenda’ for the second part of the meeting. During the introductions, we discovered that the four new members had come across the network in a variety of ways – through personal contact, signposting and googling. They had a variety of experiences mirroring those we’re already familiar with: happy family relationships; confused identity especially at school; lack of sense of belonging; desire to search for records; desire to find birth family.
As regards things people wanted to talk about: root tracing was high on the list and it was a joy to hear an account of how one member had found her biological sibling. She went back to Po Leung Kuk and asked to see her records. To her amazement, there was reference to a brother. After a hesitant start with emails and
Skype contact, the two met face to face. His adoptive family was Chinese American so he had managed to learn (or retain) Cantonese. We have been told that boys were often sent to America because it was felt the prospects were better; it was more common for girls to be sent to England and other Commonwealth countries. In America, there was a higher number of Chinese families, and they were prepared to adopt.
I gave feedback on my experience with DNA Mysteries– the last chance saloon for abandoned babies registered with Long Lost Family, the ITV series. It has been two years for me with no results. With their resources, if they cannot help me, who can? It turns out that the researchers like a challenge and have a particular passion for those of us who were abandoned. Wall to Wall, the Long Lost Familyproduction company is planning a ninety-minute one-off special featuring foundlings whose birth families have been traced using DNA. Last month they organised a Genealogist Gathering and filmed about thirty of us in the hope that enough of us would have success and that we could feature in the programme. The vast majority were white British but there were a couple women of who had been abandoned in Nigeria and, crucially, four of us Hong Kongers. Who knows if the DNA thing will result in anything. We hope but we’re not holding our breath.
Every network reunion ends with a group meal. This time we enjoyed a Thai meal at The Lemon Tree pub nearby. Often this is where the real bonding happens and other friends and relatives join in. This is the time when the grizzly details of our personal challenges are exchanged with mutual understanding and a good dollop of humour. Meeting one of the new members at the DNA Mysteries event made me realise that there are some of us still out there on our own bobbing around without support or comradeship. We had no Mother’s Bridge of Love (MBL) or Children Adopted from China (CASH). However much we hope that the likes of Wall to Wall may find our families, we know that their priority is making a TV programme and our level of complexity may mean we don’t fit conveniently in their production schedule. It may be that our only success will be through our own efforts. By far the majority of us will never find relatives but we continue to cherish discovering each other, Sisters in Spirit across the globe.
Claire Ling Chi Martin