[ British Red Cross Family Tracing & Research ]

Posted on September 5th, 2013 at 9:11pm

British Red Cross

It’s been a while since I’ve done a blog about my roots tracing journey. I guess that often is the nature of roots tracing, it can be slow and over a period of time. Plus for me I do get a bit complacent and can take me a few weeks or even years to move onto the next step.

To get you quickly up to speed… I’ve been looking for my birthmother (and birth family). My birth mother was a Vietnamese Refugee Boat person that fled Vietnam to Hong Kong (HK) and was staying at one of the HK refugee camps. I was conceived and born in HK out of wedlock. Due her circumstances she felt she could not look after me as she was given an offer to resettle in the USA. Before today I had exhausted every lead I could in Hong Kong including the Social Welfare Department, HK Immigration, UK UNHCR and even found my foster family who also didn’t have any leads (though love been in contact with them again ^.^). While the Social Welfare Department was able to give me as much information they had on my adoption it was still a bit limited. In general the other organisations didn’t have records from that far back… shame so many paper records are culled/destroyed o_O.

It was only a month or so ago it was confirmed really there was no more paths to take in HK. I thought, hummm, what now? When I was looking on the AVI (Adopted Vietnamese International) website, which I ironically redesigned not that long ago, i found a post about the Red Cross helping Vietnamese refugees in the USA after the war. It was just a tiny little section saying:

“Red Cross Location Service

Red Cross Location Service has been able to reunite lost relatives including orphans with their birth parents from the Vietnam War. There special connection to Vietnam after the war was with their work in Vietnamese refugee camps. The American Red Cross provides tracing and location services in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, our Congressional Charter of 1905, and our obligations as a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Tracing is an American Red Cross “Must” service; all American Red Cross chapters and stations on U.S. military installations overseas are required to provide this service to their communities.”

http://www.adoptedvietnamese.org/searching/roots-tracing-guide/

For over 10 years now I have been following the pure “adoption” roots tracing path, getting in touch with the organisations that dealt with my adoption and doing all the obvious things. And since that’s now a dead end, it was time to take the “war and refugee” route. Even though my birthmother was a refugee it’s a grey area to wether they were able to help me due to being adopted, rather than being orphaned. But since the reason for relinquishment was a direct result of her situation as a refugee, i thought I’d have a chance. So I got to thinking… If the Red Cross helped out in the USA, maybe if I contact the ones in the UK maybe they could help or know where to point me. So a couple of months ago I did just that. I was put through to a dedicated Red Cross family tracing department, which I didn’t realise they had. Their website says:

“We help to restore contact between families separated by armed conflict, disaster or migration by using the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network.”

http://www.redcross.org.uk/What-we-do/Finding-missing-family

So today I meet up with the Red Cross.

I woke up this morning rushing around getting all my documents ready and all the details I might need to find my birthmother. I photocopied the relevant documents and realised I only had 7 pages relating to her each with only a small clue… only 7 pages to show for 10 years of searching o_O.

I was really glad that my husband was able to join me for the meeting, his support is invaluable. I was greeted by two lovely ladies working at Abingdon Red Cross, but i was still really nervous. I’m not sure why. Maybe cos i didn’t know what to expect. Didn’t know if they would even be able to take my case on due to being adopted. I didn’t know if i had enough information. Just so many things racing in my head. Normally I don’t think much about, but this time i end up doing, it was pretty intense.

It was crazy how thorough the process was, understandably so. We meticulously looked at the documents and details we had, worked out what was hard fact and what was more speculation (as logical as it was). There was things they spotted even I hadn’t, and I looked at those documents loads. And the meeting ended with them helping me fill out a official Red Cross tracing request form.

So they have taken on the case, but now it’s all about little hurdles. My form and documents will be sent to the head office. They will then decided if there is enough to send it to the USA Red Cross. Then USA have to decide if they can help or sign post me in the right direction. It’s a lot of hoop jumping, but i completely understand. And each step is another potential brick wall. Tracing does not seem to be a fast process, but I’m hopeful but realistic. I just want to know that I’ve tried.

Research

I’ve decided I’m not gonna be too complacent this time around… so i’m not just gonna twiddle my thumbs and wait for the Red Cross to get back to me. I’m starting to explore more research while I wait. I was told to try looking at the British National Archives and waiting for copies of some public record documents that might hold some answers and I’m also exploring books about the refugee exodus. So I’m trying to help myself =).

Try your own search of the archives here: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/

So while today might not seem a big step… it is moving forward, even if slowly, is very very positive for me. And if nothing comes of these avenues, then I’ll find another way, and another way after that. I need to know I tried. Something i really wanted to point out, even though I have been in touch with a lot of people in my search, even if people/organisations haven’t had any information I have been touched by how lovely & kind people have been about the whole thing and I think that makes a difference in keeping motivated and gives me some hope for humanity =P.

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[ Idea a Day 10 – Panda, Girl & Fireflies ]

Posted on August 16th, 2013 at 11:06pm

So this i the last “Idea a Day” challenge. I originally start this just to see if i could come up some ideas and regain some focus… but I have discovered way more than I expected.

- I got a sense of my illustration style and that doesn’t mean that I have to just draw in one technique or subject every time.
- I learnt a lot about my limitations and expectation which isn’t a bad thing.
- I have learnt a great deal about how to come up with ideas when you’re stuck or having a block… usually in form taking a quick walk outside or removing myself from my workspace… most of all being open to taking inspiration from everything.
- I’ve rediscovered good old paper and led… to a point that I bought a new scanner this morning to replace my 10 year old one. =P Still not a fan of cleaning up scanned images, but surprised at myself who normally solely works digitally could want to work on paper again!
- I have experimented with a lot of new ways and technicians.
- AND i have loads of new ideas floating around in my head that I feel I could go on to develop.

So here is my last Idea a Day illustration, I wanted to start where I begin so revisited the panda and girl characters. It was sketched on paper using a HB pencil, scanned and coloured on the computer. I hope that I do one of these challenges again in the future =). Thanks everyone that has followed me little art adventure =).

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[ Idea a Day 9 – Man Trapped in a Tree ]

Posted on August 16th, 2013 at 1:33am

Sometimes i really have to just do something serious and take a break from cute and cuddly lolz. Today again I find myself drawing on paper, i guess it’s cos it feels quiet novel again. I did colour it roughly on the computer. There was no real reason that I did this piece… i just started doodling, and i though, Oooo that looks like a branched hand… maybe if i make it a hand from someone who was tapped in a tree… and kinda just went from that small seed of an idea.

So tomorrow is the last day… wonder what I’ll do.

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[ Idea a Day 8 – Cute 3 Headed Dog sketches ]

Posted on August 14th, 2013 at 9:18pm

Yesterday sparked a lot of ideas for me. I wanted to explore one of the ideas in more detail, so I picked the three headed dog.

It’s been tough being this level of creative every day and it took me a long time to actually start drawing today. I started doodling on my tablet as i normally do, but just wasn’t feeling it. The tablet suddenly felt very small and unnatural. So for the first time in ages I decided to to draw on paper. I’ve done a painting not that long ago, but not sketches really as I’m digital. It was very liberating and refreshing. I definitely miss the undone button, but just had to use a good old eraser. There is a simple beauty and simplicity about using a pencil and that texture is really hard to replicate on the computer. Though over all i can’t stand the scanning process as you end up scanning a lot of unwanted paper texture.

Either way it was a great day of drawing. Some how i managed to get a lot more out on paper than if i’d done it on the computer. So these are the two A4 pages I did plus a photo of my workspace… my sofa and on my lap with my computer next to me is normally how i work lolz =P.

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[ Idea a Day 7 – Cute Mythical Creatures ]

Posted on August 14th, 2013 at 12:17am

There was a lot about yesterday’s drawing that I latched onto today. When a was growing up, doodling in school, i often found myself drawing fantasy art. I was discouraged by my art teachers against it as they said it was “not real art”. So now looping around, i still find myself drawn to fantasy worlds… and why not? =). But i’ve only started to marry together fantasy with my cuter illustration style…. i like the effect.

I often draw dragons, something about how cross cultural a dragon is. So today I wanted to try and draw creatures I’ve never tried before. It was harder then i thought to find mythical creatures that tend not to be humanoid or half humanoid and well known (rather than me just making it up)…. and why are horses way harder to draw than they should be hahaha!!?? I’m happy with the direction of the style and I’m really enjoying drawing creatures.

Another reason I liked the dragon sketches from yesterday is that there was a great relationship growing between the boy and dragon. I wanted to see if I could recreate that with new charters that reflect the creature. Even though these are just cute little drawings, i do put a lot of thought into it. And one of the main reasons for doing this idea a day exercises is to see if I can come away with some ideas I can start to develop, possibly into a story. I have ideas bubbling after todays task.

I put the time in today to try and have a more finished piece, so I hope that you enjoy my griffin, unicorn & three headed dog =).

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[ Idea a Day 6 – Dragon & Boy Sketches ]

Posted on August 12th, 2013 at 9:36pm

I’ve reflected deeply over the weekend on last weeks drawings. Last week I felt that i did a lot of things that were challenging and things I needed to get some practice on, but it didn’t give me much focus on my current illustration style. I started to contemplate what was successful last week and what wasn’t. For me the panda worked the best, it was cute and in my style. The rest of the drawings didn’t do getting my excitement up.

So today I felt I needed to do something that reflected my actual work style better. While it’s nice to do serious stuff, really my work works well when it’s cute. I also feel that I like drawing animals/creatures. So with that in mind I do something that is very me… a dragon. So today’s lesson is that it’s good to own you’re style and artist voice.

This is a sketch with a very quiet grey shade.

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[ Idea a Day 5 – Candy Land complete ]

Posted on August 9th, 2013 at 8:19pm

So i succumbed to colouring yesterday’s sketch, and it took me way way longer than I expected to, even though I only did a rough colour. It’s hardly surprising, i made it more difficult by drawing so much. Part of me is annoyed that I didn’t do all the line art like I normally would and colour it properly… but then I remembered that I was suppose to be doing quick pieces every day. So I had to compromise and colour it enough so I could see what I had in my mind but not spend any more time on it. So even though I didn’t get out a new drawing, i do very much feel that I’m evoked in inner child in this piece, something I hope I never lose.

Compromise in general is just another thing I’ve had to come to terms with over the years with art. It can always be better but there has to be a point that you let it go and move on to the next piece.

So I will spend the weekend reflecting on this week of ideas. My hope is to do one more week of ideas a day next week.

 

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[ Idea a Day 4 – Candy Land Sketch ]

Posted on August 9th, 2013 at 1:37am

I like character development and I often draw backgrounds for fun. So i thought I’d challenge myself today and do a background. Very often I find that backgrounds often taken longer than when I draw characters, probably due to the level of detail I like to have.

I ended up drawing this today. It took me ages just doing the sketch. It’s now just gone 2:30am and now realise that I’m not gonna get it coloured (even roughly) even though I’d started. Often I find that art isn’t about miracles, but a hard slog at times. Even though I’m slightly annoyed I didn’t get the colour it, I also know my limitation… so I’ll finish doing a rough colour tomorrow so hopefully it gives me time to do another idea…. we’ll see =P.

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[ Idea a Day 3 – Teen & girl sketch ]

Posted on August 7th, 2013 at 5:23pm

Sometimes it’s nice to do a simple piece and leave it in sketch form. Maybe one day I’ll go back and line & colour this. I really like character development, to give an unspoken personality and story.

Usually if i’m drawing for myself i start out with a blank page. I tend just to start making shapes on the page with no idea what I’m doing. Then suddenly something will appear in those shapes, a face normally, be that a human, monster, animal etc. From the head the rest just clicks into place. When I was younger I use to get board after just drawing the head, now I’m better at realising a whole figure =)

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[ Idea a Day 2 – Wolf Boy ]

Posted on August 6th, 2013 at 10:15pm

I wanted to explore yesterday’s idea a little more. I feel that I have a story starting to form in my head, though it would prob take a lot more time to explore a fuller story so I might try something new tomorrow. Also experimenting with backgrounds =)

I’m really liking this story a day, it’s forcing me to work quickly without the guilt of perfection. It still is some what daunting looking at a blank page but exciting to see what will appear without restriction.

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