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.

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: 

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.

Going Back Home Adoptees share their experiences of Hong Kong Gathering

Research by Kit Myers, Amanda L. Baden & Alfonso Ferguson

(Please allow link to download as it comprises of about 33 pages.)

” Kit says, “He had learned a lot from everyone’s experiences and thoughts and are excited to be able to share that knowledge with other people, especially other HKADs, transnational adoptees, and the larger adoption community. The themes and takeaways that emerged from your experiences and insights will be beneficial for a lot of people. We sincerely thank all of the participants who helped make this study possible”. 

ABSTRACT

This mixed-methods study examines 20 adult Hong Kong Adoptees (HKADs) with an average age of 53.7years who attended a Gathering of HKADs in Hong Kong. It has three elements (pre- and post-Gathering surveys and an interview). All participants engaged in two of the three parts of the study, while 14 of those 20 participated in all three parts. Survey data for the HKADs revealed significantly increased comfort with their Hong Kong identities following the visit to Hong Kong. Interviews with 20 attendees yielded themes sur- rounding reasons for attending; experiences and emotions; and the challenges and benefits of the gathering and return- ing to Hong Kong.

http://www.hkadopteesnetwork.com/uk/talks-docs-more-info/going-back-home-adoptees-share-their-experiences-of-hong-kong-adoptee-gathering/

Moments, Memories & Looking for Mama

by Claire Ling Chi Martin 25.9.19

We UK-based Hong Kong Adoptees enjoyed an action-packed London re-union on Saturday with 3 speakers and a new venue.  Around 25 of us assembled in Bush House, the old BBC building in The Strand.  Meeting rooms aren’t what they once were: London space is worth your weight in gold so multi-use is the mantra and we were confronted with a cupboard full of yoga mats.  Fortunately we were rescued by the student staff at King’s (the new occupants) who transformed the room into something more familiar with tables and chairs.  Hot water was a challenge too far on a weekend but we adoptees are adaptable and ingenious so microwaves and Costa runs saved the day.

Kate got us into the swing of things as usual with an exercise to spark our increasingly murky memories.  Raffle tickets randomised the order of contributions rather than tiresomely working our way round the room.  Anecdotes ranged from babies to tractor rides and it was a brilliant way of discovering something new about each other.  Sharing fond memories of moments with adoptive dads was particularly poignant as a number of us in previous meetings recalled that we were scared of men when were first introduced into our new UK families.  My father told me he couldn’t go near me for first 2 days without me screaming my head off.

We welcomed the two Julias.  Julia Feast, the independent adoption consultant who wrote about the Hong Kong Project, joined us again, and we thanked her once more for bringing so many of us together after decades apart.  Julia Bell, the DNA detective, came to talk to us about how she’d traced her mother’s birth family and developed the skills to solve the most difficult, and, in some cases, notorious and high profile birth searches.  She has been key to helping Long Lost Family with some of their most dramatic discoveries and gives hope to foundlings with no name and no means to access records.  She was honest about the challenge for those with East Asian heritage – 90% of the 30 million people on DNA databases are deep-rooted Americans.  She also de-mystified some of the lingo and talked us through the end-to-end testing process and what the Dickens to do with the results once they’re through.  Julia B gave tips on how to contact our closest matches from out of the blue without putting them into a tailspin and scaring them to death.  Crucially, she offered the means to access the type of DNA kits most suited to us, on-going expertise and the prospect of meeting again as a group to compare results.

I discreetly (hopefully) updated the group on my Long Lost Family-sponsored trip to Hong Kong and gave the game away on reality TV filming methods.  I trod the same path as those who had gone to our birthplace before and recounted my experience of the local press appeals and what a couple of our American adoptee friends charmingly refer to as The Dumpster Tour.  I recalled the frustration I felt on discovering that there was no record of me in Po Leung Kuk, the orphanage where I had convinced myself I had shared a room with Laura and Joanna.  I have been told that the episode featuring my search will be aired in March 2020 and I undertook to keep everyone posted when the date is confirmed.

Laura thrilled us with a vibrant and entertaining account of how she holed up in Hong Kong for 3 months and sniffed out leads under the guidance of an extremely determined Winnie Davies of Look 4 Mama fame.  She shared her success with the group and showed us pictures of her recently discovered birth family.  In the process, she helped them find and unite with a brother that had been sold to the village chief.  They had been scared of taking the leap and they were grateful for their fearless new family member.  Interestingly, some of them are still extremely wary of further discoveries – a sentiment which gives us an insight into why some Hong Kong families are reluctant to come forward – never mind that it’s still illegal to abandon children and they risk falling foul of the law.

Julia Bell was able to reassure us that our data is safe if we test our DNA.  She has recommended a reliable and secure provider that has the best matches for us.  Without giving too much away, we’ve discovered that 3 of us have a distant DNA match with a mixed race teenager in Cornwall.  My Hong Kong trip made me realise the scale of abandonment and the size of our birth families.  This increases the likelihood that we’re related to another Hong Kong adoptee.  The more of us that test, the likelier it is that we’ll identify patterns to help us.

We staggered up the road to Bill’s on Kingsway for food, fellowship and photos.  It had been a full-on gathering and this was our chance to socialise.

Wonderful Reunion 21 Sept 2019

By Yvonne Gee

Wonderful to spend the day with these lovelies yesterday at our HKAN meet up. Fascinating accounts by two members of their recent search for family members in HK.

It’s been ten years since Julia Feast first wrote, inviting around 106 of us to participate in her research project, examining the long-term impact of trans-racial adoptions, some fifty years after the formal adoptions by British families had taken place. Around 75, participated which is a rare and high response rate. The survey explored the impact the adoptions had had on our lives (how it may have impacted our personalities; life choices; and mental health) both as adults and as children growing up in a different culture and the various family environments into which we’d been placed.

There had not previously been any research examining the long term impact of adoptions on adult adoptees, so this was a first and therefore significant for social science observers. Also really significant for us, as many of us were unaware that there were many others who’d also been ‘exported’ from HK to be placed with UK families.

In the main the research found that we’d fared pretty well, despite some of the circumstances and difficulties some had encountered and had to overcome.

HKAN Reunion 21.9.19
Group Picture

Reunion 21st Sept 2019

DateSaturday 21st SeptemberTime: 11am – 5pm;

Followed by group meal at Bills restaurant Venue: Kings College London Students Union, Bush House, The StrandAgenda: 

Julia Bell will talk about using DNA to find birth relatives; Laura Tan and Claire Martin will describe their experiences of finding birth family.   We will also share/map the resources we have, and discuss a potential network project. 

Cost: £5 per person (children free); everyone covers their own costs at the group meal
If you have already confirmed your attendance, there is NO need to reconfirm.If you wish to attend the meeting and the meal, please let us know asap


Polite note to anyone attending for the first time: Our primary focus at the meetings is to provide a safe space for adoptees to come together, share experiences and information, support each other in roots searching, and generally socialise with others with a shared start to life.  You are may bring spouses/partners, children, siblings, friends. Adoptive parents are strictly barred from attending.  Journalists, film makers, researchers and other professionals are not permitted to attend our meetings except as invited guest speakers; however they can join us for the group meal by invitation of any adoptee member. The Network does not purport to be a voice for Hong Kong born adoptees. Anyone who approaches the media or other organisations for support acts entirely in their own capacity. 


WE NEED TO UPDATE THE UKHKAN DATABASE – RESPONSE REQUIRED If you wish to remain on the UKHKAN database for all purposes, please reply to this email ‘All purposes’If you wish to remain on the UKHKAN database for all purposes except meetings, please reply to this email ‘No meetings’If you wish to be removed from the database altogether, please reply to this email ‘Remove me’.


Thank you for your attention, and we look forward to hearing from you and hopefully seeing you in Sepember. 
Kate Gordon & Sue Jardine pp Debbie Cook