Archives for posts with tag: Transracial adoption

 

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–May 17, 2013.¬† How does art help tell the story of mixed race Asian Americans? Exhibit curator Laura Kina, associate professor of art, media and design at DePaul University, describes how this show helps to visualize the complexities of mixed-heritage Asian American identities.

 

Source: depaul.edu

Interview with a HK Adoptee

Saturday Live Radio 4 interview with HK adoptee –

“The story of a woman who was abandoned in Hong Kong as a baby in the 1960’s and sent to the UK for adoption” Radio 4

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 Observer Article: How a generation of orphans fared…

 

As one of the Hong Kong Adoptees involved in this study I feel that I am qualified in some manner to speak on this topic.

Identity is a strange concept – easy to dismiss if your existence, your facial features, your place in society is not challenged. But for those of us who do not fit neatly into the accepted and perceived norms of UK society and culture it is an entirely different matter.

 

People say that things have changed that we have moved on. As a British-Hong Kong Chinese/East Asian and transracial adoptee I beg to differ. My front line experience both in the work place and on the streets is that racism and prejudice is if anything, alive and well, kicking, spitting and slamming the door in our ethnically defined faces.

This study I hope would be taken for what it is, perhaps the first step into better understanding the condition, the challenges, the traumas and the legacy that transracial adoption leaves. It can be both positive and negative. The influencers of that are those who have the power to effect change, policy makers and the family makers. Those who seek to aid people who wish to adopt. This study is by no means a doom and gloom study. But neither is it a fairytale “and they all lived happily ever after”. There are cautionary tales in there; there are red flags that we as a responsible society ignore at our own peril. Adoption is not about the needs of the adopting family, it’s about the needs and what is best for the child. If we society seeks to endorse and continue to support transracial adoption then it must take responsibility for what transracial adoption can do to a child. It must therefore surely put in place processes, procedures assistance and guidance that will minimise and negate the negative effects. It has to acknowledge and accept a wider spectrum of human and cultural expression. Inclusion of all aspects of the child and embracing that and accommodating that not ignoring, devaluing or” stripping” away those components. Transracial adoption should in my personal view be the last resort when all else has failed.

More research needs to be done and more transracial adoptees need to be heard and listened to that cover the full spectrum experience. But those voices need to be listened to and not dismissed. Who amongst us has the right to dismiss another’s experience – we may not agree with that experience, we may find that experience difficult to relate to, but just because we have no knowledge or understanding of that experience by no means should belittle or negate the validity of that experience.

 

 

     

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    Well the camera rolled and cut on the final substantive filmed interview for the documentary on Monday 15th October talkin to the actor/director David Yip brought (for the most part) the filming on the documentary to a close. Fitting really as my first professional acting job was starring along side David in the film Ping Pong.
    Apart from perhaps some context shots and a few “location” shots the filming part of the documentary is now complete
    I now go on to the full edit. 
    It has been a steep learning curve and not without substantial challenges some positive and some unfortunately negative
    But thankfully with the support of my family, close friends and you who have so generously given of your time and your thoughts I literally made it.

    If anyone would have told me back in 2010 that I would end up making an independent documentary I would have told them that they were insane or that they were taking the */?~@!!

    But here I am two years on, film in the can and onto the edit

     

    This is a copy of the presentation that I gave at the BAAF conference looking into the prelimnary resluts of the British Chinese Adoption Research

     

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    Hello my name is Lucy; I was one of the 106 Hong Kong Chinese foundlings that came over to the UK during the late 50s and into the 60s as part of the Hong Kong Project.

    A white family adopted me like many of my fellow foundlings. The family that adopted me already had a son of their own plus, a Chinese daughter that they had adopted from the same orphanage in Hong Kong; though we were not related save having come from the same children’s home in Hong Kong. For me the experience of being adopted was both positive and negative. Especially in my formative years.

    Attitudes of the day, I think dictated how the people who adopted me chose to deal with the fact of me being of a different race and culture. It was a subject that we did not talk about. It was the elephant in the room. I was curious and as I grew up I become more and more curious. Pushing to know more, who was I? What was I? 

    It has taken many years of therapy and personal soul searching to reach the place that I occupy now. To have found a balance and contentment with who and what I am, or perhaps what I am not.

    Let me make it perfectly clear that I am profoundly grateful for having been adopted. Had I not been I’m sure that I would not be standing here today addressing you as I do now. I certainly would not have become the person that I am. Or have entered the creative arts sector as a professional. I have had to fight my way through silence, prejudice and out and out racism from a very early age.

    Having been rejected at infant school by the incumbent school bully to the institutionalized racism which sadly still creeps along the corridors of industry even now in the 21st century in supposedly multicultural Britain. I personally have had to come to terms with the fact as someone who looks to all intensive purposes to “be” Chinese that I am and always will be “incomplete”.

    The loss of my mother tongue and my cultural heritage marked me out to those in the Chinese speaking community as someone to be wary of, as someone not to be trusted, not Chinese. For those from the indigenous Caucasian community I was an outsider. A foreigner. The reasons for not being able to connect with my birth culture and language are many and varied, but mostly ‘of the time’. The clean break attitude was what was considered the best approach.

    Now there is no excuse, no reason why a transracially adopted child cannot retain cultural and linguistic links until such time they reach their majority and may decide to set aside such matters. But at least they will have the basic tools to be able to communicate in their own language should they ever need or feel the need to do so.

    Something, that when I was younger hit me very hard. The feelings of rejection, the feeling of inadequacy, embarrassment of not being able to respond to a fellow countryman, followed by the looks of suspicion.

    I did not have the advantages of language courses, of the World Wide Web or the opportunities to learn. I am neither pro nor anti Transracial adoption. But I would say, it is my personal view, that transracial adoption should be the very last resort.

    Identity is a strange beast; it is overlooked and taken for granted by those who do not have to question who or what they are in society. But for those of us who do not benefit from the reflection of society’s mirror re-enforcing our physiognomy it is elusive. Making us wander the no man’s land between two cultures, two lineages two distinct “what might have beens”. To ensure that children remain in their country of origin. This should be the first choice.

    For those of you that are considering transracial adoption I salute you. It is challenging path that you have embarked upon.  But take it from one that has trodden that road. As parents you have the onerous responsibility of equipping your children with all the tools to deal with life and that includes the unsavory and negative aspects of life.

    It is crucial that we assist those children who are being uprooted from their country of origin to be placed for adoption in another country and make their journey of self identification easier.

    I would hope that in this day and age of information that no transracially adopted child would be kept in the dark about where they came from. That they would be taught their mother-tongue and get to know in depth their culture and heritage. And I am not referring to a cursory Sunday school that teaches children a few traditional songs by rote and does a few collages about the moon festival.

    I was not given the choice of whether I retained my Chinese name, learnt to speak Chinese or was instructed in Chinese culture and heritage. It is something that for many, many years left a gap in my being, in my identity. It is something that I never fully come to terms with.

    Incomplete as I am, I am now whole. I am proud to be who I am a child of both the East and the West. But it has been a long and difficult road and one that I would not willingly wish onto another.

    In spite of the challenges of being Chinese and transracially adopted I have survived. I have prevailed. The challenges that I encountered as a child, the bullying, the prejudice and racism have in some ways made me what I am today.

    I would not be here if the history of this country had not tied Hong Kong to it’s apron strings. Hong Kong would not be the Special Administrative Region of China that it is to day had the British not taken it as a crown colony

    And I would not be the proud British-Chinese actor, writer and filmmaker that stands before you now.

     

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    Well it’s been a roller-coster of a ride from a summer meeting in 2010 and a small seed planted by another Hong Kong Adoptee.

    The highs of establish a production set up for the documentary. The disbelief of filming the first interview. The shock and delight of almost establishing a co-pro with one of the leading UK documentary producers, only to see this vanish. The hard lesson, that in this world, in this sector, as in any other business sector, never, never ever air anything publicly you have not committed to paper and copyrighted.  

    To the absolute lows of having to dissolve the original production setup in 2011 just before Christmas. Hitting rock bottom when I realised that the adoption community was not free of negative politics or people with their own personal agendas.

    I hit rock bottom was when I had to deal with the griefers and trolls online and a few malicious individuals who for whatever reason decided that a project about and by a HK adoptee was something they didn’t want to happen. It was at that point I seriously thought about packing in the entire project. I had no funding –  I still have no funding. The support I was getting wasn’t coming form the wider Chinese community or the creative arts community (and that wasn’t for lack of trying) neither was it coming from the wider adoptee community. But from close friends and family, other creative professionals who know me and my work. 
    But I am if nothing else, a bloody-minded person. So having other people trying to dictate to me what I should or should not do, how I should or should not do this was like waving a red rag to a bull. 

    So what could have been a crash and burn in 2011 phoenix like Abandoned, Adopted, Here, rose from the ashes and off I went.

    Those who were willing to support and share their views on camera where to a fault generous with their time and their views.

    The amazingly talented crew that I found via Mandy.com 

    From filming (which is the easy part) to editing, it may take me some time!

    Even when the edit has been finalised there is still much to do post production wise, sorting out licensing issues. Looking for a distributor, do I remain independent. Looking to the film festivals, trying to raise money to enter some of the said film festivals and so it goes on

     

    But I made it – literally. So watch this space

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Her words and the heart behind them have fueled some fires. Regardless of if you agree or not, one cannot turn away from her experience and the convictions that have resulted from it. Adoptive parents and waiting adoptive parents of children from other places, prepare yourself and read on. Click here to read the full article

     

    Since coming out as an adult adoptee, posting about the making of my independent documentary, performing in my one woman stage play and writing about my personal views on transracial adoption; apart from being trolled and griefed, I have been literally inundated by requests to become a guest writer on this blog or that website.
    Initially I was flattered, until I started to look into the requests in more depth. Most of the organisations, and I use the term “organisation” very loosely, are groups, whether for adoptees or adopters, that are what I call, “born again”.

    Evangelical in their pro adoption at any cost and more often than not deeply religious. Anyone who has the temerity to question their views on adoption, are one step down from being the devil incarnate. It would also seem to be true that none of these groups actually read or know how to carry out basic research on the people that they approach to guest write.

    Tongue in cheek aside, there is a very serious and disturbing aspect to the above. It’s the amount of groups, organisation, NGO’s and not for profits that are out there. They see and promote adoption as if it is a right. That somehow families and parents from the west are superior to those from third world and the Far East. That by being adopted by a western family is an act of salvation. Fore sure financially and possession wise yes I suspect that being in the west, being adopted by a reasonably affluent family the adoptee may well be “better off”. They will probably want for nothing. They will not know what it means to be truly starved. They will be educated and they will be clothed. That’s the shell, the husk taken care of. But what of the being inside? What becomes of them? Closing your eyes, sticking your fingers in your ears or burying your entire head in the sand will not miraculously dissipate the inevitable. We all know want to know where we came from (and I’m not talking birds and bees) we all want to be able to trace in some shape or form our lineage. We want to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and be able to place the reflection that we see alongside all the other faces in our immediate family and the society that surrounds us. The transracially adopted child with its distinctive facial features or darker skin tones and¬†uncharacteristic non Euro-centric hair cannot do this. How then does this child for all it’s material wealth cope with a deeper and intrinsic ticking time bomb? Who will be there to pick up the emotional pieces? How many more emotionally scared, traumatised or damaged adults are in the making?
    Not every transracial adoption goes sour but not every transracial adoption has the fairy tale ending of, and they all lived happily ever after. In a day and age when the world comes to you via fiber-optic cables. I worry. We have not as yet fully acknowledged past generations of adoptees, let alone the new ones in the making. Yet it would seem the insatiable appetite to adopt transracially goes on apace and the grief, the loss and the emotionally scarring continues

    Yesterday began like any other day. Logging in for work, checking emails and ims.

    And there it was

    Out of the blue, well at least to me it was. An email pro porting to be from a member of the family that adopted me. But it’s a strange email address. The type that you more readily associate with web domains or websites. It’s not personalised it’s just the overall domain name or company name @ domain name. So curious. It aroused the suspicions of the other people that this email was sent to.
    The message itself was simple. A request that a photograph that’s been online, be taken down. Why, because it shows my adoptive sister and also the natural son of my adoptive parents along with me. The email claims that the publication of this photograph associates the other people in the photograph with my personal views. There were veiled threats of legal action and questions as to whether permission had been granted for use of this photograph. Mea culpa. 

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    However on a more serious note; for a fleeting moment I was that eleven year old school child being told off. It’s amazing isn’t what little it takes to revert one back to former behaviours and minds sets. If this message is what it claims to be, then it is obvious that my views on transracial adoption are not shared. But then I never thought that they would be.

    I am sure that my APs (Adoptive Parents) see me as a betrayer, a Judas, ungrateful and callous. Looking dispassionately at the situation I can see why. But having undergone years and years of therapy to address the legacy of harm that transracial adoption left me with, then you can understand why I can’t accept the view point that the APs hold, let alone ‘sympathise’ with.

    IMHO with hindsight and years of successful therapy behind me there is anger on both sides. Not so much from my direction now. I’m channelling that into positive actions. From my APs I suspect lots of anger. Partly guilt ridden and partly because I no longer feel beholden, I am no longer tied or bound emotionally or otherwise to these people. Therapy taught me that I am not duty bound to feel gratitude, that there is “no duty” that I have to fulfil. I have to get on with my life and what is best for me.

    I am sure that the APs view me in negative terms if they view me at all, and I can understand why. If I had not been adopted then I would not be here, living a life or doing the things that I do. But the reason that I am who and what I am is not because of my transracial adoption, it is in spite of it.

    No amount of cultural study or language learning will ever return to me what was rightfully mine. I’m afraid that even if the motives for transracial adoption were pure the execution was flawed and the end result was an incomplete person. For me it does not matter what spin you put on it, what trade offs you try to imply. You cannot redact the damage that this has done. It can never fully be repaired, healed or mended. The scars that it has created will remain forever.

    There are more and more transracial adoptees coming to the surface, breaking the air and wanting to talk and in talking they are exposing the soft underbelly of transracial adoption. Of course their are plenty of people on the other side who would rather that the negatives, the challenges and real concerns about transracial adoption were not aired.
    That will always be the case. I respond very well to threats whether veiled or open. To me it signals that I am on the right track, so it’s a boost giving me extra impetus to carry on 

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    It’s in the news, even the PM is making statements about it!

    But Adoption is a subject that is never far from the societal surface. It engenders great passion, extreme emotions and polarises viewpoints

    Yesterday I interviewed the wonderful Anthony Lau. A young, dynamic, erudite, supremely confident yet never cocky or arrogant British Born Chinese. Gently spoken with gloriously correct English (something that I begin to miss and appreciate more and more as I get older!) Anthony is currently the Assistant Director on Bingo now playing at the Young Vic.

    It’s clear to me even if it isn’t to Michael Gove, David Cameron or a raft of Adoption savvy experts.
    Identity is key –  whether your adopted or not adopted.

    Anthony Lau is a rare human being. He is supremely confident in who he is where he has come from and in some senses where is is going. He sees himself as a citizen of the world. Proud of his Chinese ancestry, proud of his liberal “English” upbringing. As comfortable with Yum cha as he is with a twelve course high table traditional English banquet. As at home with Wong Wing-sze as he is with William Shakespeare

    Anthony questions why an allegiance to one part of his heritage should take precedence over the other part. For Anthony he is what he is, he is comfortable with the duality, the differences and the similarities in the end we’re all just people, just human beings. Good for him. I wish that more people, especially people in positions of power thought in the same way as Anthony.

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    But what happens when one half of the equation has been redacted out? What happens if half of who you are supposed to be has been torn away from you? Is it any wonder that many adoptees spend a love time searching, grasping sometimes at straws trying to find the missing jigsaw pieces.

    Whether you are dual nationality, hyphenated ethnicity, of mixed cultures, races and heritage’s identity matters it defines, it shapes, it underpins it is an emotional and psychological skeleton which helps you to hang, you, your personality, your essence in place it give you structure, shape, belonging and a definition space

    Without it I think you are very much lost, never complete, never whole always the “other”