Better Late than Never

Posted on November 9th, 2021 by Debbie

Saturday 30th October 2021

By Claire, Kate, Sue & Debbie. Picture by supplied by Serena and Kate

This year’s first face to face UK HKAN reunion in simply forever was at the Foundling Museum in beautiful Bloomsbury.  Our Zooming is great, it really is: seeing sisters and brothers across the world, comparing notes, taking in both personal news and touching on global events, Covid comparisons, talks, laughter and learning, all that.  But seeing each other and hugging safely for the first time was wonderful.

Kate always comes up with the most magnificent icebreakers and Saturday’s was particularly special.  We each had a list of adoptees and had to find each one and ask what she’d started doing and what she’d stopped doing recently.  It meant we got up and circulated, and found out things we didn’t know about each other and reminded ourselves how amazingly resourceful we all are.  It was significant how many had retired and were embarking on creative and exciting projects.  Rock choir.  How cool is that?  The CHAPS (Companions, Husbands And Partners/Siblings, and of course, photographers) had their own little icebreaker which was similar to ours but with the intriguing question about the word Foundling.  A few of us had experienced Covid in our families and some of the new ventures we’d undertaken were because of Lockdown.  Some of it was for a good cause and some of us sold produce, crafts and paintings to swell our coffers a little to afford venues and to support projects back in Hong Kong, particularly the Home of Loving Faithfulness for those with special needs.  It was founded by Aunty Val and Aunty Wendy who looked after Linda when she was in Shatin.  It’s so touching that sales of her delicious produce are supporting those that supported her.

Kate wasn’t the only one getting us to fill out forms.  Julia Feast gave us all a survey to complete about whether our attitudes to searching for birth relatives has altered since we participated in the 2013 study, which will support her PhD on the subject, entitled Curiosity and Opportunity.  Julia remembers well during the BCAS study how many of us reported at the time that it was not something we gave much thought to partly because searching wasn’t an option as information about our origins did not exist. Some of us were categorically told not to bother even trying to find our families because, with no registered birth name or records, we couldn’t even get off first base.  Julia asked us about our reaction to the use of the word Foundling as opposed to Abandoned. An interesting discussion followed. The majority of us on the receiving end of such a concept agreed that we much preferred the former: Foundling -indicating Left to be Found is psychologically a much kinder expression reflecting the feeling that our original families, as far as we knew, had no choice about letting us go and took great care to ensure we were left in a safe place, indeed to be rescued as soon as possible.  

Those still facing barriers to finding their adoption records were supported by those of us who had succeeded and we’ll no doubt be calling on our dear friends on the ground in Hong Kong for advice.

Our other guest was Peng Wenlan, an esteemed documentary maker, journalist and writer.  She came to propose that we consider applying for financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund on the basis that our very unusual start in life and the circumstances that brought us to the UK amounted to a unique moment in British History.  Off the back of success with campaigning for recognition of the Chinese Labour Corps (the Chinese men shipped over during the First World War to dig and clear the trenches for British Forces and their allies) and an account of the Chinese in Bengal, Wenlan suggested that our legacy for our children could be a documentary about our story.  Generally, we felt that we had come a long way since earlier attempts to relate our tale and this could be an opportunity for us to tell it in our own way.

We had our usual knees up in a nearby pub: an opportunity to catch up even more on what was happening with everyone and how we all survived the Lockdown.  We could probe further the discoveries during the icebreaker exercise and enjoy each other’s company after such a long break.  Never mind that we celebrated our 10thAnniversary Reunion a year on: better late than never!

UK HKAN would like to Thank the following:

The Foundling Museum for being so welcoming for providing a lovely room for our meeting.

NSUN for making this possible by awarding a Grant earlier in the year

Go to Our Grants, Previous Grants, Side by Side Fund Grantee Profiles

Julia Feast who took valuable time out of her PhD

Peng Wenlan an esteemed documentary maker, journalist and writer

Kate & Sue for their commitment & energy to make these reunions happen and there endless patience with me (Debbie)

Linda Fawcett who brought a Christmas Cake in for us all to taste

And last of all, for all of those who attended and helped to make this a special occasion as we celebrated a belated 10th Anniversary of this group coming together.


Reunion Feedback

UKHKAN 10th Anniversary Reunion – Foundling Museum – 30 October 2021: Feedback 

  • Thank you so much. Wonderful day and thoroughly enjoyed the Foundling Museum.
  • Lovely room and enjoyed the museum. 
  • Lovely to see everyone. Yes to a documentary, our stories need to be told and put into history. 
  • Renewed interest in possibly tracing birth mother (I have her name).  Passing on info to my children’s generation about my heritage + other adoptees. Adoptees of my children’s generation have similar questions about identity that our group have been seeking. 
  • It was great to reconnect in person after months of isolation + lockdown.
  • Friendly supporting environment. Lovely ladies!
  • Great to hear other people’s experiences. 
  • Totally energised by the warmth, enthusiasm + openness of your group. 
  • Love that there are new ideas/initiatives – stimulating, empowering.
  • I’ve found it a fantastic experience being with everyone again.
  • Further study for our Hong Kong Group in relation to giving our children an insight to our history. 
  • Great to meet face to face again.  Would be interested in participating in a documentary. 
  • Supportive network. 
  • Would benefit the group becoming a charity – help us to connect more.
  • Really amazing to meet these fantastic adopted women for the first time. 
  • So good to meet in person after lockdown. Especially good to see Julie Feast who I think has always championed for us.
  • Welcoming warm and friendly. Supportive and informative. Moving. 
  • It was just great to be back physically and see our sisters and new sisters. 
  • Icebreakers are good always but today’s was particularly effective because we were able to get to know each other better. 
  • Today was very informative.  It was great to spend today with the group.  It’s good to bounce ideas off other people which I found very helpful. Thank you.

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