Born a Vietnamese Refugee in Hong Kong
I was born in 1982 in Hong Kong. My birth mother was a Vietnamese refugee boat-person that fled to Hong Kong after the Vietnam War. She was staying in a refugee camp when I was born. My birthmother was granted resettlement into the USA. She was a single mother who already had a daughter when I was born. My birthfather was not in the picture are the time of my birth. She felt that she couldn’t go to a new country with a new born baby to top it all off. I was in a health centre while the the completion of my relinquishment process took place. Some of these things have only been verified in 2010 when I got copies of my adoption papers.
I was fostered straight after by a British family that were living in HK. My foster family gave me a name, Jessica Jade (JJ). In 2011 I brilliantly reconnected with my foster family for the first time. You can see more of my foster photos and in-depth art project on my sockbunnies.com project website. When I was 12 months another British family who were also living in Hong Kong at the time, the Emmett’s, adopted me. From that day I was known as Jessica Jane Emmett. Funnily, I find out that my dad must have heard the middle name my foster family had given me wrong, it was meant to be “Jade” =P.
Adoption by British family
I lived in Hong Kong for sixteen years, and then emigrated to the UK with my family in 1998. While living in HK I lived in an expatriate community, English speaking schools & friends etc. so I sadly can’t speak Chinese (maybe one day). It was quite surreal when I think about it!
My birthmother gave me a name when I was born, LE Bich-Hoong. Le being the last name and Bich-Hoong meaning pink rose (I’m told). My birthmother’s name was Lê Thi Lan, which I’m told means pretty orchid. I have recently found out that the spelling of my birth name may have been the Chinese spelling. My birth name is my only link to the past, while I don’t use the name now i still treasure it.
When I was younger, I felt that being adopted had no effect on me whatsoever given I love my adopted family but as I’ve grown I realize the effects it has on me. I didn’t look at my birth papers until my early 20’s, even though i was told I could look at them any time. With my wedding coming up a the time the cycle of life was on my mind. My parents have always been honest with me about my origins and have always said they would help me search.
I have been lucky enough to reconnect with my foster family in 2011 which you can read more about on my [Foster Family] blog page. Every few years I try again. In 2020 I took a chance and sent tried 23&Me DNA tracing and found first cousins! I may never know which of their aunties or uncles is my birth parent, I am thrilled to finally have a connection to my past. I continue to try but I am realistic as i get older the chances grow smaller.
For a time I was heavily involved in the adoptee communities and did a lot of [Adoption Art], but I have scaled back on my adoption [Community] focused art. I have meet some fantastic people in my quest to understand my adoption so don’t regret it! It’s the reason I love to explore themes of identity in my art.