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  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 7:02pm
NewsHong Kong

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


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This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
The big joke about the "patriots" and xenophobes here is that if anyone were to suggest social conditions in Hong Kong or mainland China were the same fifty years ago, or even 30 years ago, as they are now, they 'd be outraged.
And yet it comforts them so much to believe that nothing changes in the UK in that time, and today's policy should be considered on that basis. I wonder why.
Why is this a top news story?
There is plenty else going on in HK and the rest of the world.
Maybe next you'll be writing about how the USA had black people in separate schools and buses, and China's glorious communist party was busying itself starving millions of people to death.
As a Brit I can't say I like the way in which you have taken a negative social situation 50 (yes.... 50) years ago and twisted it in a way which appears like it is present news talking about present events. The UK may not have gone from the 3rd world to the 1st world since those times but there have been enormous social changes, of which Hong Kong is quite lacking in comparison.
SCMP you are a respectable broadsheet newspaper... act like one!
SCMP, once again you have invited those who would only seek to further their own racist agendas to the forum. Coming from a family that has a multitude of races and also a history of adoptions the choice of headlining this report as in effect 'the British are racists' was I found disturbing, sly and low.
However, with one or two notable exceptions it is pleasing to see that those leaving comments here see this article for what it is. Perhaps SCMP employees need more education in the matter of international adoptions before launching his particular brand of hysteria on us.
The report itself, commissioned by the British simply shows that they care and would like the situation to be improved.
I have no idea why jasonbrus should feel he needs to comment. This was about adoptions and not his skewed and somewhat uninformed views on the state of European football and sport in general.
i have never visited, let alone lived in England. however, based on euro soccer news i read, europe is definitely lagging far behind to US/Canada in diversity and multiculturalism. i am a big soccer fan, i follow US Men's National Soccer Team, in particular our boys who ply their trade in Europe, the likes of Tim Howard (Everton), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Maurice Edu (Stoke), all african americans. i have seen their 1x1 interviews with US media (ESPN/NBCsports, SI.COM), they all reported personal racial incidents in Europe. typical would be fans calling them monkeys, making monkey calls or tossing bananas on the pitch. just last week, fans in the dutch league chanted racial slurs on Jozy Altidore and the ref whistled to cancel the game. Altidore being a total gentleman, asked the game be resumed as players on both sides did no wrong to deserve the cancellation. i could not imagine this kind of stupidity in NBA, NFL, MLS, NHL and MLB games. i have also lived in Brasil, in Brasil, making racial slurs against blacks is a criminal offense. i have seen cops showed up in the middle of a soccer match arresting people! sports reflect the culture in general. this article just adds one more piece of evidence confirming my general perception of racism in Europe.
"Based on the soccer news I read?" Either you are joking or an imbecile.
Shame on the SCMP for making this the front page story. Trying to ignite racial prejudice in Hong Kong? Who makes these decisions? As others have commented, Britain and many other countries have changed dramatically in terms of racial and cultural acceptance and integration since the 1960's. But back to the adoptions, what were the alternatives for these children? To remain in the orphanages? Were local families queued up to adopt these girls? I have no doubt that the girls questioned where they belonged and experienced racism. Although the world is much more open and tolerant, these problems persist and likely will do so for a long time. Still far better to have loving parents than to be stuck in an orphanage.
If Hsiao-hung Pei’s 2008 “Chinese Whispers”
is discountable for its title and Asian author
Try The Economist’s June 2012 special report
which alleges that Britain is the most
racist among developed countries
HP and the likes are intoxicated by outdated delusions
Empires crimes are unmentionable and disowned histories
over-shadowed by the West’s perpetual “honors and glories”
Mr Thorough Good’s natural attributes are beyond reproach,
never by non-western countries which out of ignorance and prejudice
are typecast as “present and perennial evils”
that alone should constantly be indicted and derided
Mark Duggan was of course an accident
and, 2012 mayhem different from Oldham
Tired of bosh about the perfect West, I should take a break
from foolhardy attempts to enlighten unsalvageable dimwits
some of whose only talent is the use of foul irrelevant invectives
which, quite unkindly, make me feel superior and proud.
A Lo rightly writes and disregards comments
that’re diatribes not meant for a dialog
He did reply once, to a personal attack
he must respond as a pay-write which I ain’t
With better uses for my time,
I WON’T CARE LESS about foul mouths
who blindly defile this forum like it were a garbage dump
where their “opinions” rightly belong
This forum exposes the psycho-intellectual cross section
of a linguistic group that can’t do the city any proud
As swan song approaches curtain down
my best regards and continual moral support
to the persistent, kind, principled and thinking commentators
Happy CNY
Attitudes toward adoption, race and many other social factors have changed beyond recognition since the 1960s, in the UK and around the world. The cited report is useful as a historical artifact only. It would be idiotic to treat it as anything more than a cautionary note when formulating current adoption policy.
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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