[ Full Circle in the Chinese Adoption Community ]

Posted on March 12th, 2012 at 7:24pm

I have been lucky enough to be apart of both Chinese & Vietnamese communities and I honestly can’t believe I only started to seriously reach out to other adoption people 4 years ago in 2008. I have been quite retrospective lately specifically of my involvement in the Chinese adoption communities since my trip to Ireland in January 2012. I did a panel talk with a fellow UK adoptee member of Children Adopted From China (CACH) for the Irish-Chinese Contact Group (ICCG)  Chinese New Year of the Dragon event. I have been to Ireland 6 times since 2008 working with a few different organisations there, but this trip made me think back to the start of my journey…

… In 2008 I had gone to Ireland on a week long Ireland tour organised by ICCG in which I was part of a panel of teens & one adult Chinese adoptees from the USA. I was the only Brit in the pack. It wasn’t the first panel talk I’d done, but it was a very significate trip. When I went on that trip I was still so new to the community, I had different views about adoption and didn’t grasp the vastness of the topic and know many other adoption experiences… I prob still am learning in that respect. At the same time I was only 2 years out of uni. and still finding my feet in the world as a person, as an artist let alone as an adoptee. I also had only just started to feel conformable about calling myself Chinese being genetically Vietnamese and despite having been born & raised in Hong Kong for 16 years. To sum it up, I was young and bright eyed entering the adoption world with trepidation.

I find it funny to remember how existing but how lost I felt when I started out. But I’m also glad that I’ve not lost that sense of hope that I entered into the world of adoption with. There are a few differences. I feel that I have a better understanding of many more types of adoption “experiences” having been lucky enough to hear many people’s stories & lives from so many different backgrounds and age groups. I also have learnt some hard lessons caused by my own assumptions about both adoption and people. Adoption is a lived experience with ups and downs, positives & negatives, humor & seriousness… no one persons experience is the same nor can you make a judgement on adoption or the people touched by it based on only a hand full of stories.

It was refreshening for me on this Ireland trip to spend time with both my fellow UK adoptee and with the teen adoptees of ICCG (YAPs). It is illuminating being able to see how the new faces of UK & Irish Chinese adoptees are taking on and develop the challenges of the lessons learnt by the past generations of adoptees as they tred the ground towards young adulthood. I very much hope that a sense of balance can still be taken forwards and that adoptees no longer have to hide their thoughts be that sad or happy when it comes to adoption. I wasn’t able to to spend as much time as I would have liked with the YAPs, but I hope they know that I was touched that they allowed me to hang out with them for a while and let me glimpse into a small part of their lives, despite being a married “old” 29 year old =P

This really takes me to another part of this “circle”… my time with the adult Hong Kong adoptees. In 2009 I became a committee member with the Chinese Adult Adoptee Worldwide Reunion (CAAWR) which a small group of Hong Kong adoptees meet up in HK in 2010. Sadly I couldn’t afford to go, but the experience allowed me to find a world of adult Chinese adoptees opening up infront of me. I stepped down from the committee in 2011 to put some much needed focus on my freelance art work though I still remain closely on the pulse of the Chinese adoption communities and i know i will always be involved with them in some way. In April 2012 will be one of the twice yearly UK Hong Kong Adoptee Network (UK HKAN) reunion lunchs. This time it will be in London at the BAAF and great as BAAF are working on a Chinese/HK Adoption study at the moment and have really come at a great time in the development of the HK adoption community in the UK. The HK adoptee community in the UK are picking up steam and it’s interesting that despite being of mainly a generation above me, mainly are also just starting to research out to others. It shows it’s never too late to start your adoption journey.

So as I sit between my Ireland trip and the UK HKAN London reunion I find myself thinking… wow! It’s been a busy 4 years. And really thinking what an exciting time this is for Chinese adoption community. I stand on the edge of the new & the elder generations of Chinese adoptees and I do hope that in the future the gap between the  younger and older generation mat start to blur into a single community… there’s still time =).

3 Comments

  1. avatar Debbie says:

    Loved the write up! Wow Jess you are really reaching out to the younger generation.

  2. avatar Aisling says:

    hi, love tha photo :) now where have i seen that before?? ;) if your coming over to Ireland again facebook me xxx a

  3. avatar Mu Nair says:

    We are a company making programmes for television. ( http://www.flyingelephant.co.uk/ )
    I came across your information while doing research for a programme that we are making.

    We are seeking a diverse range of youngsters of Chinese origin BASED IN THE UK, from ages 10-16 to share their story of being adopted.
    Once selected, they will have the opportunity to appear in a documentary film that will be broadcast on national television and be a
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