Perfect Father's Day beckons for a special dad

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 June, 2012, 12:00am


Jeffrey Bewsey never thought he would become a stay-at-home father living in Hong Kong. Nor did the 51-year-old Briton ever imagine he would become the main care provider for a child with special needs.

'When I first saw Fei Fei in the adoption centre, to be honest, I was in sheer terror,' Bewsey said. 'I thought, what on earth have I got myself into? Can I do this?'

Bewsey and his wife moved to Hong Kong four years ago after Victoria, 47, was offered the job of principal at a Tsing Yi kindergarten. Because Jeffrey was on a dependant's visa, he could not look for work. He had run his own home-decorating business in Britain.

The couple, who had no children, soon realised that with their less hectic schedule, they could follow through on their long-held hope of adopting a child.

'When the adoption agency asked us if we would be willing to adopt a child with Down's syndrome, we thought carefully about whether we could provide her with everything she needs,' Victoria said.

As a schoolteacher, Victoria had experience working with children with special needs, and knew that children with Down's syndrome require extra patience. 'But once we made the decision, we never looked back,' she said.

Fei Marie Lee Bewsey acts like any two-year-old. She laughs often, her favourite word is 'No!' and she loves attention.

She also likes to play on her own. While her parents talked, Fei, wearing a flouncy flower-print dress, sat with her toys, pretended to drink from a cup, then rubbed her tummy with a giggle.

The head of the Social Welfare Department's adoption unit, Phyllis Lee Wai-yee, said that it was very difficult for children with special needs to find families. 'Currently, 112 children are waiting for families in Hong Kong, and 69 of them are children with special needs,' said Lee. 'Some of the children have been waiting for several years.'

Jeffrey and Victoria do not see Fei in terms of her disability, and they hope that other prospective parents can open up their hearts to consider adopting children with special needs, too.

'She is my world,' said Jeffrey, who will celebrate his first Father's Day with his family tomorrow. 'She is perfect, to me.'

Hongkongers are sometimes surprised to learn that he is a stay-at-home father, Jeffrey says, though in Britain the practice is becoming increasingly common.

Fei's first word, he recalls happily, was 'Dada'.