3 Brits in San Francisco

Posted on November 22nd, 2013 by Debbie

This post originally was posted in the UK site but we felt it worked better here. The original post was here (and has some comments there too): http://www.hkadopteesnetwork.com/uk/news-blog/san-francisco-here-we-come/

Picture taken By Kim BA

A few words from the Founder of HKAN

Leaving London Heathrow Airport , with great excitement!  After an 11 hour flight a little tired but surprisingly ready for the wonderful reunion journey that we were going to embark on together with our American sisters.

No matter how many reunions I have attended each one is so special when meeting new sisters (even brothers), it is just staggering!   A whole new family.  Its unbelievable after all this time when I thought it was only ME, that I now find so many of us who have started life the same way in Hong Kong abandoned or relinquished from our birth parents.   I had been a traumatised child and subjected to a lot of racial prejudice as my adoptive parents lived in a  ‘White Suburb’.  Meeting so many new sisters has taken away that feeling of being ALONE, we sat in a circle at the reunion & shared so many aspects of our lives that had us all in tears because finally we could all relate to each other.  That is so therapeutic!

Saying goodbye was hard.  But the warmth and depth of our goodbye hugs sustained me on my journey across the water back home with my two wonderful travelling companions Sue and Serena, thank you.   A big thank you Kim R for your lovely generous hospitality and for those who arranged the reunion, Kim R, Mei Yan, Kim B & Mei Kin and last but not least for all those who attended and made it possible.


Here are two wonderful accounts highlighting more from our Journey ‘Over the water’.

Sue writes:-

Having been with our lovely American sisters for over a week I was getting used to hearing how things were “awe-some” or “cute”

While they puzzled over our use of “bits and bobs”, they used “a whole bunch of”, but not in reference to fruit! They were totally mystified by the word “jumper” (for sweater) and the fact that we wear “trousers” (not pants…!). They found it amusing that we frequently needed the “loo” or wanted a “cuppa tea” Just to cause further confusion we teased a little by slipping in references to going up the “apple and pears” – which, of course all Brits use on regular basis!

The other thing that we heard a lot of was about the federal shut down and daily reports on whether the National Parks would open up. This was quite significant because, although the trip was absolutely amazing (as summarised in Serena’s account), for Debbie and myself the end of the trip was going to be a visit to Yosemite. Due to the distance and time limitations, this was quite ambitious, but we were very fortunate to have Mei Yan who said she would take us and be our guide, and her sister Sau Chan had also agreed to come along to spend time with us.

As the time drew nearer, I was resigned to the fact that we wouldn’t get to go and we started making alternative plans….

…..then very suddenly and unexpectedly it seemed that we were getting packed for YO-semite.

I think the photos say it all!

 Mei Yan treated us to incredible views of El Capitan (the highest vertical granite walls on earth and 3,000ft /914m), Half Dome (which she herself has climbed) and the Yosemite Valley from Glacier point.






We walked through the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoia trees when we arrived. The Grizzly Giant is estimated to be 1,800 years old. The next day we followed the Mist trail to Vernal Fall (317ft/ 96.6m). Due to the lack of water at this time of year, the trail was not misty, but instead we enjoyed the autumn colours and the beautiful light. After our walk we stopped by the Ahwahnee Hotel – named after the native American name for Yosemite Valley – “the land of the gaping mouth”.



To cap it all, after going to Glacier Point, we caught an incredible sunset over El Capitan. I can truly say that it was “awe-some” and there were a “whole bunch” of mountains. Yes bigger, larger and more expansive than I have ever seen before. It was an unforgettable experience. As was the whole trip to San Francisco.  



I would like say a big thank you to Kim R,  Mei Yan, Kim B and Mei Kin for organising the US HK adoptee reunion and for their hospitality, and generosity. And last but not least to thank Debbie and Serena for making such good travelling companions.

Serena writes:-

When the chance of an invite to go to San Francisco to meet other Hong Kong adoptees at their 1st USA reunion came up, I was very pleased and jumped at the opportunity.

Debbie, Sue and I were met by our kind lovely host Kim at San Francisco airport and driven to her home where we stayed for the next two weeks.

The reunion was held at Mei Yan’s condo complex in Berkeley, about 19 ladies and 1 young man attended, 10 came with their partners guests.

The day of the reunion started off with us arriving at the venue with a wonderful breakfast spread, meeting and chatting to everyone arriving. Many of the adoptees had not met a Hong Kong adoptee before. Only Kim, Mim, Sau Chan, and Mei Yan from the USA had been to a UK reunion or had met UK adoptee ladies.

Mei Yan welcomed everybody, Helen and Kim R introduced everyone with a stepping game which went well and truly broke the ice. Then we had a photo shoot and lunch which was another chance to get to know some more people, and afterwards Kim B led the circle sharing where we sat in a circle to have a 5 min talk about our experiences, there were some very moving and thought provoking stories. It’s amazing how each story was so different yet we could all relate to them. I sense  many questions were answered or a void had been filled and the talks really helped a lot of the adoptees.

Afterwards most of us went for a bracing walk by the harbour and then met the others for an evening meal which rounded the day off nicely. It was wonderful to be so welcomed by the USA adoptee reunion. I will most certainly stay in touch with a good handful.

My highlights of the trip are meeting the people at the reunion, travelling with Debbie and Sue and sightseeing USA together.  Getting to know our host Kim and travelling with new friends, Mei Yan, Sau Chan, Mim, Beth & Lusmila and viewing some amazing places together, especially the Golden Gate Bridge, viewing the murals in the Mission District and visiting the Women’s Building, the Google head quarters! And soaking our weary bones & joints in Kim’s communal hot jacuzzi after a hectic day of sightseeing.

All photographs courtesy of Serena, Sue, Kim R & Kim B



  1. Debbie -

    Well done Serena. I couldn’t have summarized the Journey better! I will put up photographs very soon.

  2. kathy wong -

    OMG! I feel so much love for my 3 UK sisters. Thanks for the great memories and I can’t wait to learn more of your funny language!

  3. Debbie -

    Brilliant Sue, Thank you for the memories! Apart from the wonderful reunion I really enjoyed our visit to the Google Headquarters, what an honour that was to get the invites Thank you Kim. Yosemite is a must for those who like National Parks, the Giant Sequoia Trees just left me in awe, as I had never seen anything like it! WOW. The sheer vastness of this wonderful National Park and its views will stay with me forever, especially when we were to see them also at Sunset! Thank you ever so much Mei Yan for your guided tour

  4. Doreen -

    Thank you Debbie, Sue & Serena for sharing your thoughts & photos of your time in the U.S. It sounds like you all had a wonderful time seeing a little bit of Northern CA. I truly enjoyed meeting all of you and a little bit of chatting time with you as well. I know there be more of these events in the future.

  5. Kate Gordon -

    Sad to have missed the meetup, but glad you had such a fab time. Lovely photos – look forward to the rest.

  6. serenasussex -

    It was great to meet everyone. I hope you are all well. We are missing you all and the California sunshine! I look forward to hearing how life is now? Take care.

  7. James Tong -

    Thx for such wonderful sharings!!!!

  8. KimR -

    Miss my crazy Brits but please No Trousers (it’s pants!) and I couldn’t figure for the life of me why Serena wanted a “jumper” – I thought she meant jumper cables for a car or did she mean jumper dress like what little girls wear? It took me 5 minutes to “process” and then it dawned on me she needed a SWEATER!

  9. Debbie -

    Love your Snoopy logo! After all this time when I first contacted you back in 2006/7 you still have a love for him! Pants refer to under garments my dear sister Kim, so if you had asked for them over here we would have to direct you to the nearest clothing store! Ha ha!

  10. OI-WAH YIP -

    We all did have a great time. It was nice to share some of our stories and feel the love in our sisters from the UK, Canada and USA. It’s good to know that even though we where left in an orphanage and not knowing what will become of us, I feel that we all became stronger. The hurt that some of us had is past now but we never forget what it taught us. Much Love to all my sisters from UK, Canada, & USA.

  11. Debbie -

    Thanks Oi-Wah. For me at a very early age it taught me that people who love me will leave me…..That loss of my birth parent made me feel that I wasn’t loveable, the two people who should of love me didn’t love me enough. I struggle with friendships in general for fear of them leaving me and that has been so hard to deal with…..

  12. Kathy Wong -

    Aloha everyone! I’m Kathy and just joined the group. I lived at St. Christopher Baby home from 1960-61 and was adopted into a Chinese family in Portland, Oregon. I currently live in Honolulu, HI. I didn’t start my journey of adoption fact-finding until 2007. I just attended the Berkeley Reunion (my first) and I am SO glad I did. What I felt benefitted me most with the reunion was finally meeting people that share the same history and background. I am interested in finding other adoptees from St. Christopher’s. Also, has anyone ever contacted Muriel Tonge (supervisor of the Baby’s home from 1960-1962?)

  13. Eva Yip -

    Thanks for sharing your great day. Lovely Infos and pics. Wish I was there with you all..
    Keep going everyone.

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