[ My Adoption Story ]

Even though I now focus on illustration, to know my work is to know my adoption journey which directly influenced my early work [Adoption Art].

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 duaghter when I was born. 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 the relinquishment process took place, facts which 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 (as apposed to being put in an orphanage which is normally what happened). 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 (and funny to find out that my dad must have heard the middle name my foster family had given me wrong =P).

I lived in Hong Kong for sixteen years, and then emigrated to the UK with my parents and my (HK adoptee) sister in 1998. Many people ask me if we left Hong Kong because of the handover but the actual reason is that my  parents had lived in Hong Kong for about 30 years and felt that they wanted to move back closer to relatives and live in their own homeland again for retirement. 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).

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 the only thing my birthmother gave me and I treasure it even if it is not my current name.

For most of my life I felt that being adopted had no effect on me whatsoever for I’ve had a very happy life and good adoption experience and I consider my adopted parents fully as my “mum” and “dad”. I didn’t look at my birth papers until I was in my earily 20’s, even though my parents always said it was in the drawer and I could look at it at any time. After looking at the papers with my impending marriage to my now husband in 2005, I realised that subconsciously it had affected me all my life, even if only in a small ways. 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, however my search for my birth relatives continues and a process I feel will not happen over night… watch this space =).

I have becoming increasingly involoved with the adoption [Community] and have meet some fantastic people in my quest to understand adoption. This is a very exciting time for me.

 “People are always telling me that I am brave to ‘expose’ myself in the way I do. I don’t agree. When you act in the light of knowledge which is in your own self-interest or in the interests of your group or class, this is not bravery but absolute necessity.” (Jo Spence 1986)