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Hong Kong orphans subjected to racism in Britain: report

Difficulties of girls taken away in 1960s by adoptive parents are revealed, with many complaining of prejudice and alienation

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 February, 2013, 10:20am

Hong Kong orphans taken away by their adoptive British parents in the 1960s experienced racism, prejudice and alienation, according to a UK report.

The findings have raised concerns about whether local organisations arranging interracial adoptions place enough emphasis on preliminary guidance for interested parents.

It has also led to calls for Britain to review its adoption reform proposals and consider the long-term impact on children adopted by parents of a different race.

The report by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) was published in The Observer newspaper on Sunday.

The 72 Hong Kong-origin respondents were among more than 100 girls sent to mainly white families during the 1960s.

They said common experiences included "varying levels of racism, prejudice and feelings of belonging and difference within their adoptive families and wider communities".

Fifty-four per cent said they felt "uncomfortable" hearing remarks that they looked different from their adoptive family and three-quarters admitted they wanted to look less Chinese.

For a minority, the report said, "race-based bullying" and discrimination "had a substantial negative impact on their well-being". The BAAF added: "For some women … separation from their birth family and being Chinese in the UK has proved to be difficult."

Race-based bullying and discrimination had a substantial negative impact on their well-being

Figures from the Social Welfare Department show there were 26 overseas applications for adopting a Hong Kong child pending by the end of last year.

There were also 191 local applications and 19 "private" applications from people such as the children's relatives.

A total of 110 children were available for adoption at the end of December. None of them was described as "normal and healthy" and 71 were disabled.

Currently, the department accredits three non-governmental organisations - International Social Service Hong Kong Branch, Mother's Choice and Po Leung Kuk - with arranging inter-country adoptions.

Neither the department nor any of the service providers were available for comment on Sunday.

Social welfare sector lawmaker Peter Cheung Kwok-che, of the Labour Party, called on the groups to adopt a more forward-looking approach when communicating with would-be parents.

He said: "In the second interview of the screening, for instance, parents should be reminded, at a later stage, to prepare their children against future discrimination."

But he added it would not be appropriate for follow-up evaluations to be carried out on the adoptive families.

The department says on its website its priority is to place children with families "of the same cultural or ethnic background".

It adds: "Inter-country adoption should only be [for those] in need of a permanent adoption placement, but where no suitable local homes are available to them." It said this usually applies to older children or those with special needs.

Additional reporting by The Observer



This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
The 1960s? Really? Britain's demographic has changed hugely since then, and to attempt to mould current policy based on half a century ago would be obscene and stupid. It's no worse to be adopted into a society of another race than to emigrate into one and raise your kids in it, and I don't see many in Hong Kong rejecting the idea of emigrating to non-Chinese societies. Just the opposite in fact.
Interestingly, it seems the study began with its own pre-conditioned prejudices, as one person involved stated:
"Many of us found the questionnaire extremely hard to do as we felt the pre-set responses gave a false and misleading impression about our childhoods, forming a correlation between negative childhood experiences and adoption which was not true for most of us."
Really? You do really believe what you just wrote? Racism towards "non-white" people is still common practise, expecially in the UK.
But one thing is true. A lot of HKners decide to emigrate to other places and leave their tiny apartments for a bigger place.
Dai Muff
Mr dromedary, I lived there for many years. You sir, given that weighty chip on your shoulder, clearly have not. And never should.
"Especially in the UK"
And when was the last time you live there? Evil British Empire still hounds you eh...



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