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.