Statement in response to South China Morning Post article

There were many good points made in the article. However, we wish to remind UKHKAN members of the following: 

  • The UK Hong Kong Adoptee Network is a social network – we organise opportunities for members to meet (in person and online), share stories, exchange information. From time to time, we invite speakers to present on topics such as accessing adoption records, DNA tests, history of Hong Kong orphanages, etc;
  • We neither encourage nor discourage members to undergo DNA tests – this is a deeply personal decision that everyone must make for themselves;
  • We do not have any researchers working for us, nor are we part of a broader on-going DNA project;
  • We are not a DNA registration agent. 

It is regrettable if anyone has been misled by the SCMP article into contacting UKHKAN in the belief we will help them undertake a DNA search for birth family.   We do not have the resources for this and in any case -as already stated above- it is outside UKHKAN’s remit. 

Debbie Cook – UKHKAN Founder

Kate Gordon – Organiser 

Sue Jardine – Organiser


Great News

One of our UK HKAN Adoptees Joanna B has successfully found some of her siblings and she would like to share the process with you.

Year of the Ox began fireworks for FUNG Fung Yee

  • When I went to Hong Kong for the adoptees’ gathering five years ago 2015, I requested my files from Po Leung Kuk children’s home/ Social Welfare Department/ The International Social Services there.
  • Lots of the group were curious about their birth parents (like Claire from ITV Long Lost Family episode last month) but because I knew I had been orphaned I decided to query the whereabouts of three older siblings.
  • HK media published what information some adoptees and I had, and I left the records I accumulated with Winnie a local searcher (look4mama)
  • ISS case worker Jolian tracked my next older brother to NY 2016 whom I eventually got to meet and stay with 2017 with his Chinese wife also introduced to their grownup son who looks like me.
  • I subsequently tried The Red Cross Tracing Service for their help in finding OUR eldest two 2019 but they couldn’t so I nudged Winnie again (she has been investigating lots of abandonment cases ever since the original reunion with surprising results)
  • Ultimately, she discovered BOTH brother and sister living there, with their own families ~ also the uncle that had adopted them in 1962, now 90yrs 
  • Since having done the 23andMe DNA test revealing my 5th cousin match with Claire plus other distant relatives this links to Fung father’s or Yau mother‘s relevant ancestry .

A Note from Debbie, UK HKAN Founder

It is with sadness that we heard Margaret Bryer passed away on 25th March 2020. We would like to thank her again for this informative and absorbing talk, and the support she gave our network.

This announcement from CFAB tells us about Margaret’s considerable involvement in Children and Families Across the Borders (formally ISS).

She has kindly given us a copy of her speech as there was great interest from the attendees to make it available on line. We would like to thank her for joining us and the work she has done over these many years.

This document must not be used without permission of UK HKAN

BAAF Blue Booklet

BAAF ‘Blue booklet’

Many of the UK based HK-born adoptees have a copy of the BAAF publication ‘The International Social Services UK Hong Kong Adoption Project 1960 -1970 | The historical context and the children’s homes’ – aka ‘the blue book’. This was an interim publication, before the release of the book ‘Adoption, Adversity & Afterwards’.
As you may know, BAAF merged with Coram in 2015. CoramBAAF have given UKHKAN a soft copy of the booklet with permission to upload it onto this website on the strict condition that nobody reproduces it in any format for any purpose.
There has been a delay in uploading the booklet but we will sort it out at the earliest opportunity. We would also like to take this opportunity to gently remind everyone that the blue book is copyright and therefore no part may be reproduced.

Brits meet up with a fellow adoptee from Canada

Written by Yvonne Gee

Jemma Fong, visiting London from Canada where she now lives, was on the same original flight over from Hong Kong to the UK as me, some fifty-two years ago. There is a black and white photo of four of us arriving at London Airport, (which in those days was at Croydon.) Jemma happened to post these pics on f/b, and I recognised myself in them, having had no previous knowledge that we’d been on the same flight. (I should also mention, though in f/b contact, I had not previously met Jemma.)

Serena, Sue, Kate, Joanne, Linda Fawcett and her son Matthew
met up with Jemma, her partner Sandy and Sandy’s nephew (also Canadian, now living in London.) I discovered that everyone else attending, had at points in the recent past met Jemma either at a Hong Kong Reunion or in the United States, so if you’ve been to any of the overseas Reunions, you may have met Jemma and her partner Sandy.


We met-up at New World Restaurant in Chinatown for a lunchtime Dim Sum, which is the Chinese equivalent of a Greek Mezze or the Spanish Tapas. Trolleys of Chinese delicacies (savoury and sweet) on little dishes that have been steamed or fried are pushed around the restaurant and diners choose as many or few as they fancy.

I first went to New World Restaurant, nearly forty years ago, and the dishes were pretty much as I recalled: varied and delicious! Jemma has some rudimentary Mandarin and was able to request certain dishes and provide some translation. This is truly a fabulous way to spend some time together and incredibly cheap, it worked out at £10.80 per head!

We then wandered around to Wardour Street to Bubblewrap for waffle cone ice cream. Bubble waffles, part of the street food scene in Hong Kong, originated as a way to use up broken eggs, which couldn’t be marketed, flour and milk was added to make a batter and these curiosities were born. They are a new trend on the London foodie scene.

Quite sizeable(!) waffles are made in specialist waffle irons, then shaped into a cone, which are then filled with ice cream from a selection of around six flavours with a variety of different toppings. Just as well lunch was light and cheap, as these dessert whoppers are huge and cost from £6.50- £8+ depending how much you indulge your sweet tooth and choose not to stint on your treat!!! We queued for around an hour, but chatting together, the time passed quickly and enjoyably. Since it’s street food, there’s no seating
so we stood in the street consuming these giant ice creams, taking nearly as long to eat them as to queue! (Okay, Kate, around 15-20minutes)



It was a lovely day out, I then headed home, but the others strolled through to Covent Garden and explored, before eventually heading to their respective homes.

What a really brilliant way to spend some time together, and refresh old friendshipsand make new ones! I’d definitely recommend Dim Sum, if you’ve never tried it.

Thank you

I would like to thank Jasmine, Sue and Kate for organising the London Reunion on the 18th February 2017.  Also for Claire who printed out the signs and writing the blog.

Thank you to Chungwen who was our speaker for the day and Julia Feast (BAAF) who has been such such a big support to our group.

We were also delighted to have as a special guest Mrs Tan Yuen who worked at St Christophers Children Home in the early 60’s.

Thank you to the Chinese Community Centre, Church of St Martin-in-the Fields for letting us use there facilities for the day and for to the two wonderful ladies who cooked our tea.

Lastly I would like to thank all of you, who attended yet another very successful reunion and I look forward to seeing you again at the next.  Please watch this space.

Debbie Cook

Founder of the UK HKAN

Fly Babies

An account of the February 2017 Reunion by Claire Martin

We adult Hong Kong adoptees had another wonderful reunion last Saturday, 18th February 2017, and a couple of us had a titter at some of the absent Other Halves daring to ask the question, “What’s the purpose?” Purpose? We need a purpose? Although we missed some familiar faces (we thought of you and raised a glass of something or other in your direction), we had a great turnout. We are so grateful to Jasmine for pulling out the stops and finding us a new venue in the crypt of St Martin-in-the-Fields Church slap bang in the middle of London (by Trafalgar Square). Even I could find it and my ability to get lost is legendary. In fact, to be on the safe side, we posted red arrows all the way to the hall we were in. Debbie, our UK Hong Kong Adoptee Network founder, was not taking any chances. Sue and Kate were in support as ever and it was delightful to meet other members of Kate’s family.
Over the years, at each reunion, we learn things we did not know before. We learned why we were left to be found (refugees from Mainland China – thanks for nothing those who told me growing up that my first mother was probably a prostitute), how we were looked after by the helpers in the orphanages, who has managed to trace blood relatives and how they did it and what we have all experienced growing up in English families. This time we were amazed to discover that our story was part of someone else’s. We featured in the 80 year history of British Airways flying to Hong Kong from London. In all our glory, there we were, in an exhibition in Gerrard Street, London’s Chinatown, called “A Tale of Two Cities”. A few of us went to the launch do on Valentine’s Day and met some local Chinese dignitaries, BA execs and some current cabin crew. We asked if they could find out who the air hostesses were who brought us over, looked after us during the flight from Hong Kong to the UK all those years ago, and featured in our newspaper photos.

And who knew, all the years some of us have lived in London, that there was a Chinese community centre under the café in the Church of St Martin-in-the Fields called the Bishop Ho Ming Wah Association and Community Centre? With Mandarin classes, painting, calligraphy, T’ai Chi and all? It has been there since the ‘60s and the community bit since the ‘80s. Here is the link for anyone who wants it:

Gathered in a circle, in our very own AA meeting (Adoptees Anonymous?) we were joined by a helper from St Christopher’s in the 1960s, Mrs Chan-Yuen Han Tang who told us a bit about life in the orphanage and how some poor families gave up their children to these institutions so that they could have an education. We were later treated to a talk by Chung-Wen Li, Dean of the Ming-Ai Institute (another revelation) which aims to introduce Chinese culture to the UK – where were all these magnificent organisations when we were growing up? Chung-Wen spoke about the project she has in mind to capture our adoption stories orally – the more the merrier. Chris supported the great idea of including input from the adoptive families – parents and siblings. Chung-Wen’s eyes lit up. Even more interviewees means more likelihood of attracting sponsorship and a new angle to pursue – two birds with one stone! At which point she belted over to the aforementioned British Airways Exhibition leaving us all to meander over the newish China Exchange in Gerrard Street – yet another place I’ve walked passed not knowing it existed (though to be fair it is only a year old). Every single one of us made it – even those foolish enough to follow me. Here is the link to the China Exchange website:  and to Ming-Ai:

As well as being able to wander around the exhibition, Chung-Wen delivered a slide show on the Chinese Diasporic Workforce in the UK, a project similar to the one she has in mind for us, where she interviewed people from many industries and professions, to capture the Chinese immigrant experience over many years. One was a merchant seaman in WWII who recently died, giving a sense of urgency to our own stories now that many of us have lost our adoptive parents as well. She traced back to the very first Chinese person to come to the UK in the reign of James II, testing our knowledge of the subject. We were woefully ignorant which I put down to our isolation growing up and the discovery of all these Chinese organisations goes to show we are still not embedded in the Chinese community here. Spread around the country, often the only Ethnic in the village, we fought our own battles against prejudice and, as we discovered this time, put our British nearest and dearest through it as well. And people wonder why we are making up for lost time now?
We went back to the crypt for an authentic Chinese meal (prepared by two wonderful women of the Bishop Ho Ming Wah Association), a good natter and to celebrate Naomi’s birthday. Our reunions have evolved over the years. We reminisced about our first encounters, that rabbit-in-the-headlights experience intruding into groups forged at earlier reunions, discovering there were loads of us at the BAAF book launch, comparing adoption records, giggling over not being able to remember each other’s names, the endless selfies and group photos, dipping our toes into Facebook and keeping in touch electronically. We realise we were once together, more than fifty years ago, staring at the same ceiling, eating the same rice gruel, playing with the same toys, flying half way round the world together. The elation of finding each other still has not worn off. We were there for each other then, we are there for each other now.


Abandoned and orphaned baby boomers battling Hong Kong bureaucracy to trace their roots

Joel John Robert’s recent attempt to gain full disclosure from the Social Welfare Department returned hundreds of pages with vast amounts redacted
For half a century, Hong Kong-born adoptee Joel John Roberts spent his entire life not knowing the identity of his parents.

But as others rehomed by charities such as Po Leung Kuk or orphanages such as Fanling Babies Home have shared their experiences, Roberts, who was abandoned at 15 days oldbegan his own “journey of discovery”.

Roberts was one of many children born in Hong Kong in the 1950s and 60s adopted by western families and taken to countries such as the UK, Canada and the United States. Roberts was adopted by an American family and moved to the US aged two and a half.

Documentation from this ­period is often hard to come by and his recent attempt to gain full disclosure from the Social Welfare Department about his early life was met with blanks. It sent him hundreds of pages with vast amounts redacted.

“People would ask me if I was interested in finding my birth family and I said no because I just never thought about it. But as I got older, I [realised] I didn’t know anything about the first few years of my life or my birth parents,” said Roberts. “I don’t know anyone who has had the same experience.”

The problem stems from the context of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance for adoption which protects parents and adoptees from having their ­personal information released.

“I am 55 years old and I think I should have the right to know my history,” Roberts said. “If I am 15 years old, maybe not, but when you are an adult, they shouldn’t [withhold] the information.”

I think I should have the right to know my history

Despite the redactions, some precious details were yielded. Roberts’ original name was Frank Brown, or Pak Fat-lan in Chinese, according to the nanny assigned to care for him on his parents’ behalf.

It suggested the name was given by a western father, and it was this name that was reported to police when he was abandoned.

The Eurasian ethnicity filtered into media notices, government, and adoption agency filings.

Adding to the curiosity of his original name, Roberts took a DNA test because he was not ­satisfied with official documents describing him as Eurasian when he did not have any features to back that up. The results said he was 97 per cent Asian.

He also managed to track down an article from a Chinese-language newspaper from the 60s that published the name of his mother, but not his father.

Officials have been found to be inconsistent with redacting adult adoptee reports. As late as 2014, individuals could get full SWD documents without redaction, according to Winnie Siu Davies, who has assisted in previous cases where full unredacted documents were provided and birth parents were traced.

The Post covered the case of Mandy Horst in 2014 who used unredacted SWD documents to track down her mother via YouTube.

The inconsistencies added to Robert’s frustration and plea to have the documents unredacted.

Rebecca Holdaway, who helps returning adoptees from the UK and US, said early separations made it difficult to trace parents.

“Paperwork can be thin on the ground, making it difficult to prove roots to the authorities and make essential connections,” she said, adding that government officials and departments “don’t like to cooperate or its not in their interest to follow up [cases].”

The privacy ordinance was implemented in Hong Kong in 1996, but made “more stringent” in 2012, Holdaway said. “Accessing old birth details and hospital records is difficult. There is a fine line between what right an adoptee has to: birth time, birth details, and medical records.”

Asked whether it would relax the rules, the SWD said Roberts was not the owner of all of the data disclosed in the documents which it controlled.

Since 2006, the department has given birth parents the choice of revealing their identity to their adopted children, but no retroactive mechanism could be created to address historical issues faced by adult adoptees.

The United States and the UK created an open adoption disclosure process where both adoptees and parents have a veto and consent rights to communication and the right to know, whereas Australia was on the other end of the spectrum with a “closed adoption” practice and the biological parent’s names are never revealed, said Holdaway.