[ Hong Kong – Photos ]

Posted on December 24th, 2008 at 4:24pm

Here are some of the photos from my trip:

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[ HONG KONG PART 2 – 1st HK Adoption Festival ]

Posted on December 24th, 2008 at 7:58am

After Adam left the real work began. I was joined by two other Chinese adult adoptees from the USA. Mother’s Choice put on a on so many event for us plus the two art workshops I was due to co-lead. We did many talks and Q&As. I know I wont be able to list all the events, but here have been some of the most memorable:

Q&A at Chinese International School (parents and teachers) – After all the talks I’ve done with parents, this has to be the most intersting for me. The reason is that in general most parents that have adopted have the same concerns… and the same questions are asked, to a point where a good book should be written (though no doubt I’m sure there is one already). Cos we were talking to parents that actually had teen adoptees they actually asked harder and more interesting questions… the reason is a lot of the time people think of adoptees as children… the truth is we grow up =P. I dont think anyone has asked me what it’s like for me as an adoptee now I moved away from home and maybe where my support system is then… maybe one day someone will be brave enough to ask =P.

Screening of Tickets (Chinese film) – A new fictional film made by adoptees about adoption was extremely moving, while using beautiful landscapes to look at a tracing story. I very rarely let my mind wonder about my birthmother, but after it finished Iheard a lot of snivels and sniffs from the audience… waiting for it to come out on DVD.

Meeting the pregnant teens – part of Mother’s Choice host housing for pregnant girls. Three of us meet with about 12 of them and told our stories. They were a little shy, but they asked many questions and allowed us to also ask personal questions. I was surprised at how young some of them were… and especially at the openness of the centre that housed them… they explained their “options” and adoption did not have to be the finial outcome, which i totally agree with and respect. It was just one of those moving moments. Birthmothers are very often forgotten past the initial adoption, and it was a touching reminder to me.

Workshops – I felt in my element. Even though I can talk the ear of most people, seeing kids be creative was just he icing on the cake of a long and emotional trip. I was amazed how open the families were about their adoption and how they handled some quiet complex issues without the workshops. Also it was the first time in the whole trip that I was able to see the children that the whole event was focused around, it just made the Festival more real for me. Also it was interesting to to co-lead the workshops with another creative Chinese adoptee writer.

Meeting my social worker – Though some random events I ended up being put in touch with the social worker that delt with mine and my sisters adoption. She remembered me and my sister and parents… amazing. Just before my trip I’d put in my request to root trace… of couse there was a lot of info that she could not remember… and she knew nothing about my birthmother… but she helped me fill in the context of the time & history I was adopted, the situation with Vietnamese refugees and adoption within HK. She also made me think about the situation of some of the Vietnamese refugee women given birth to children… pretty much what I had thought, but now realized in a little more detail. During Adoption Festival I learnt that these days there was really only a handful of adoptions to the UK from HK (as a posed to from china). I was shocked, but they only do hard to place children overseas from hk to the UK these days, and most healthy children are domestically adopted which is quiet a contrast to international adoption from the Mainland. I would have counted as domestic since my parents lived there at the time.

I haven’t been able to totally take in the trip. I met so many people and learnt so many new things about adoption. I have really had a burst of new ideas for projects and workshops… and I was so thrilled Mother’s Choice decided to invite me to their historic event.

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[ HONG KONG PART 1 – A personal revisiting ]

Posted on December 24th, 2008 at 7:47am

After delays, fire alarms at Heathrow airport and being terrified of flying, I did make it to Hong Kong. The feeling when I stepped off the plan was like saying hello to an old friend, one which you’d not seen in ages. It was the first time I felt that I could breath again in my life, like I’d waited 10 years to feel this leave of comfort again.

Me and Adam (my husband) were picked up from the airport. It was night. The car had huge windows, and I just remember taking in all the lights from the buildings. It was like seeing a place I know well through fresh eyes… at the same time 10 years can really deteriorate ones memories, I had to claw to the corners of my mind to remember some of the places. Of course there were many new buildings, but the feeling of HK felt the same.

We arrived at mother Choice guest flats. It was in old colonial building, white, just how I remember these old buildings. The flat it’s self was just a typical hong kong flat, even down to typical fixtures to the smells and feel of the building. I was so thankful to stay in flat rather than a hotel. The flat over looked Central were all the main buildings are, yet it was peaceful. Me & Adam made it our little home for our time there.

The other great thing was that Mother’s Choice was right next to my old high school, Island School. I loved my high school… I wasn’t popular, if anything I prob was a pretty lax & laid back teen and probably not remembered by many, but my time there was some of the happiest of my life… there was a school spirit, a genuine feeling that they wanted us to find our strengths no matter in what form that manifested. I visited it, all the teachers I remember had mainly left… but really was surprised that it still felt the same, but some how updated for this century. The multi cultural aspect of the school always made me feel that it didn’t really matter what your ethnic background and allowed us to appreciate may different cultures. I realize now how sugar coated it all sounds, but honestly that’s how I feel. Especially when contrasted with the all girls grammar school that I attended when I moved to the UK, which was it’s totally opposite.

I was lucky enough to met up with a lot of old friends. I was surprised with how much I remembered.  Also nice to see where people have gone in 10 years. Somehow I remember my time in HK like it was yesterday. But most importantly I was able to have Adam met them. I have talked and talked and talked about my time, my friends and places in Hong Kong, yet I’ve never been able to share that with anyone from the UK. It was Adam’s first time in East Asia! His understanding of my origins has been vital to my adjustment to the UK and life in general… but now he’s seen it with his own eyes I really feel that we know each other on a whole new level.

Sadly Adam was only able to stay for a week. I did always tell him we’d need mini of 2 weeks on our first trip. But as he started a new job, it was hard to take that must time off. Thankfully he was able to go to some of the Adoption Festival events. I dragged him to the airport kicking and scream that he wanted to stay.

It was interesting to hear what Adam had to say about hk. He thought that language would be an issue, that he would not be able to get buy without knowing any chinese. But as he said, everything is sign posted in English, and everyone knows a basic amount to get around without any problems to a point where living in hk would actually be possible without many problems. It’s strange, cos I lived there until I was 16 and it was only when I got to the UK that I was like “oh my god, I can understand what everyone says” =P.

I definitely dont miss everyone assuming I speak Chinese. Though in the past, pre hand-over, if I spoken English I would sometimes get a very negative reaction. I was expecting that to still be the case, but I was very impressed to find people being more understanding with my now strong English accent. What I did miss was walking around and just blending with everyone and not sticking out.

Me and Kat managed to get in some site seeing, but not as much as I would have liked. One day I’ll be able to go back with kat and stay for a extended time =).

It was surreal coming back to the UK. A few feelings come flooding back about why it was so hard to leave hk all those years ago and some of the things that made it difficult…. yet at the same time I felt more at peace. I really needed to visit hk, like my soul needed it.

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[ Counting down the days. ]

Posted on October 27th, 2008 at 3:03pm

So there are only 4 days between me and being in Hong Kong. I’m so excited yet apprehensive cos I know HK will have changed after 10 years… but I cant help it =P. My suitcase is packed to capacity and I’m nearly ready.

This trip seems to mark a milestone in my life… not just a journey back to my past… cos when I get back to the UK I will quickly be moving down to Oxford way from my beloved Manchester to follow my husbond’s job that he reasently got. It’s indeed sad to be moving since it has actually taken my these whole 10 years to feel turely settled in the UK since I moved here 10 years ago… and I find that peace in Manchester (well if you can call mancster peaceful =P). But I am ready to move on to Oxford and see what life brings =). So as I reflect back on my Hong Kong life, I also view my UK life… it will be the first time I have lived so far away from my parents…. they tell me it’s all part of growing up =P. It also makes me think about why my parents lived in Hong Kong… they too must have moved so far away from family and friends.

I still find it a little difficalt to define where “home” is for me… it’s just as hard for me to define “where I’m from”… I guess I think more like “currently based in..”. The more I think about it, the more I feel that I am a person of the world… with the Internet worlds dont feel as far apart. I’m just waiting for somone to invtent transporter beams then it would be even closer =P.

The year I left hong kong a film came out called Armageddon… the cover song pretty much summed up the ending of my love affire with Hong Kong… cos I truly loved that city – Leaving on a Jetplan (cover) by Sheryl Crow.

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[ 10 years away from home ]

Posted on October 13th, 2008 at 4:28pm

My family moved to the UK in 1998 from Hong Kong. I was able to visit HK once since emigrating only a year after I moved in 1999. Since then I’ve completed a Photography Degree, a Media Arts Masters, a Skills Set video production course, become a freelance artist, done exhibitions nationally, got married, meet a whole load of great people…

… in that time I’ve never managed to have enough money to fly back. I have been longing to go back and over the past few years the urge to see my birthplace has become acute. But I’ve been given a fantastic opportunity to speak at the first Adoption Festival in Hong Kong in a few weeks.

I couldn’t think of a more perfect reason to go back. My thoughts of adoption has changed sooooo much since I lived in HK. Mainly I very much thought that adoption had nothing to do with me what so ever as a teen… I didn’t like the idea that something so far in my past should affect my future, a future that I shaped. Ironically I did volunteer for Mother’s Choice, I did the training, but only managed one day of volentreey work. At the time I made it out like I was just lazy, but in hindsight it was cos I was very effected by working with orphaned babies. It was only a few years later when I actually volunteered in Vietnam that I managed to bring myself to work with orphaned babies again. I always wanted to make up for bailing on Mother’s Choice all those years ago, so this is definitely my chance =).

Also cos I really believed I wanted nothing to do with adoption as a teen, I never took advantage of the resources there. I try not to be a “could have” or “what if” kindda person… but I do regret not visiting a Vietnamese refugee camp before they all closed, or talking to the organization that dealt with my adoption, or visit my sister’s orphanage with her… but I’d like to think that there is always still a chance I can do theses things =).

Thankfully my husband will be coming with me for part of my trip… he has never been and it will be lovely to share my life before the UK with someone. As a grown adoptee, I don’t always have my immediate family as a support system (in the sense that I’m an “adult” and havent been living at home for many years now, but my family are very supportive… I ment more on a day to day level)… so having my husband’s support is extremely important. Sometimes it’s easy to think you have to walk your adoption path alone… the truth is you don’t have to =).

I’m so excited… I have so much on my mind before my trip =D… I just feel like I’ll be going with my eyes wide open.

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[ Viet Irish Support Seminar ]

Posted on October 12th, 2008 at 12:14am

I literally have just got back from my trip from Ireland. I was only over for a day event run by Viet Irish Support who organized their first series of talks (in which I was one =P).

I was so nervous cos it was the first time I had really talked to this many parents that had adopted from Vietnam. The way this talk went was that most of the time was used for Q & A. I spoke after Dr Elmarie Egan-Sage a Counseling Chartered and Research Psychologist that talked about separation anxiety, bereavement/ loss of birthmother and family, self esteem & trust. It was a hugely enlightening to hear her talk and I really felt that doing my talk after was a lovely contrast between a more psychological view and a lived one. I think it was important for me to be as open and honest as possible… and funny enough, I thought I was going to have some much tougher questions asked… but in the end it just felt like I had a nice conversation with 70 other people =P.

It’s still a strange concept to me that a whole room full of adults (though I know I am an “adult” I’m still pretty on the young side) actually think that anything I say has some importances. As I’ve said at the beginning of this blog… I’m no expert in adoption… at the beginning of my talk I also said the same… The speaker after (Mary D Healy Chairperson Irish Chinese Contact Group) said that even though I didnt consider myself an expert, I am an expert in a sense purely from my experience as an older adoptee (since there are not many older Vietnamese Adoptees in Ireland that are accessible).

To be honest I think it is the same across all types of adoptions, that it can be hard to find people that are willing to openly discuss their experiences because totally, understandably it is a privet subject in a lot of cases. I think the main reason I am quiet comfortable about it is cos when I took that leap to actually explore adoption through my art, I realized that my work would most likely be viewed publicly… so I think somewhere down the line I lost my fear and embarrassment about talking about my adoption with even complete strangers… and of course after checking that is it is ok with my parents and sister since much of art/talks have something to do with them too.

This was the second time I have been to Ireland and to do a talk of this personal nature. Both times I was privileged to stay with some lovely families that had adopted from either China or Vietnam… and I’m sure I’ve made some little friends for life =D. It really just shows me how developed adoptive family support organizations have be come and what they have learnt from other generations of adoption… things like Life books, attitudes and understanding have really grown…

Here are a few things that have got me thinking from todays events:

… So this is my message to anyone who has involved with adoption, be it adoptees, adoptive parents/families/friends or natural/birth families… speak up, cos there are a lot of willing and eager ears to listen.

– Friends can be a huge ally. Having someone outside your family support and understand you through your adoption journey can be extremely helpful. In my case my husband (a white British Yorkshire man =P) is so support of me which helps being all “grown up” and away from imedate family… and not just about his understand of adoption, but also with his genuine interest in Asian cultes, philosophies, realigion & even food… which makes me laugh cos he probably has a better knowledge then me =P.

– Cute adopted kids will grow up… =P I was a treible teenage…

– The languge we use can really change our attudes about the world, not even just from an adoption point of view… which in turn can help us inform the people around us that might know nothing about our situations. (Mardy D’s talk).

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[ Little Leap ]

Posted on October 2nd, 2008 at 9:25pm

Today I’ve been thinking a lot about “missing” people from my life. My parents dropped off a load of photocopied documents of adoption stuff yesterday. I was flicking through it looking for clues.

In 2003 I tried searching for my birth mother through a UK organization. Their search ended in Hong Kong where they find some info. but was not aloud to view the information. So I gave up. Today was the first time I have tried again… it’s taken me a long time to take that step again. The only thing I could find online about anything to do with my adoption was the orginistaion that dealt with my adoption…. the internet is amazing =)…

… they had a website… I opened my email… wrote a short email… clicked send… now I’m waiting…

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[ Thinking About Vietnam ]

Posted on September 30th, 2008 at 12:38pm

I have a trip coming up soon to Ireland in which I’ll be talking with families that have adopted from Vietnam. I’m actually very nervous since it’s not very often I meet people that have adopted from Vietnam.

I have done some talks over the past year with a group I’m involved with. We are a group of adopted girls from ages 13-30, mainly of Chinese decent, though based in the USA. So many of the talks I’ve done this year have been mainly focused around Chinese adoptees… this is the first Vietnamese focused talk I will do and it’s been on my mind.

It definitely has not been on my mind in a bad way, but more that I’ve been thinking about the different questions that might be asked… but especially that every time I do a talk I actually learn much more than the audience might think. I defiantly dont know all the answers and I’m still pretty young myself (26) and my opinions about adoption seem to change on a daily basis. The main things I’ve been thinking about today have been  my constant pulling between the fact I was born and grow up in Hong Kong with a Chinese culture and the fact that I am indeed Vietnamese.

I’ve only been back to Vietnam once in 1997 (when I was 15). It was on a school trip where I helped at an orphanage Called The Christina Noble Children’s Foundation. At the time I stupidly didn’t openly tell the teachers or a lot my peers that I was adopted from Vietnam (though they may have known). I’ve dug up some photos from that trip =).

I think the trip was very much needed. The hardest thing for me was to relate to the poverty in Vietnam compared to my very Westernized up bringing. And also a lot of the touresty type things to do at the time was very much related to the Vietnam War, which is a shame cos vietnam is not just about the wars it has had, and I wasn’t able to really get to the heart of the culture on that trip. However, that was over 10 years ago… from what I hear there is a growing number of tourism and I really hope to go back =D.

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[ First Post ]

Posted on September 22nd, 2008 at 10:24am

I have had a website now for over 6 years now… I also once had a blog that I would only use amongst friends that was separate. It wasn’t until recently my mentor suggested to me that I make an official blog on my own website.

At first I was very unsure about an official blog. This is mainly due being dyslexic and that writing is my weakest form of expression… but I definitely could see the benefit of a blog. This gives me a chance to inject a more emotional and personable feel to my website instead of being so cut and dry.

The last worry that I had was about the power of words. I am by no means an adoption expert and really this blog is only my opinions. I say this to a lot of people I have met while doing talks, everyone is different and anything I say must be taken only as one person’s lived experience. I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of adoptees and families in my life and I can garentee that no one person will have exactly the same ideas about adoption.

Despit my worries about starting this blog, I’m actually very excited. I hope that I can put up photos and maybe even see if I can sort out a podcast/voice posts at some point. =)

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