Chapter 1: Supporting Adult Adoptees
My name is Yann and I was born in Hong Kong. I spent the first three months of my life at Mother’s Choice before being adopted by my French dad and my Malaysian mother. I have an older sister who is biological to my parents.
Growing up, it was obvious to people that I was adopted if they knew my parents. My parents had always shared with me that I was adopted, but it wasn’t something I brought up or talked about, even to my best friends whom I’d known since I was ten. I never had a community of adoptees that I belonged to, and I only knew one other person – my neighbor – who had been adopted. There was a community and support for parents who chose to adopt, like the AFHK (Adoptive Families of Hong Kong) that my mum was a very active member of, but no resources or groups existed for adoptees.
Phyllis, Gretchen, Doreen and I founded an Adult Adoptee Group in 2019. It’s a community of people that focuses on and supports adult adoptees, and provides a safe space to share our stories. This group has been one of the most fulfilling things for me. It’s been really important over the last few years, being able to express myself for the first time with people who understand fully and exactly what I’m talking about. We all have something in common.
The group has about 30 members now, aged from 18 to over 70 years old, wide-ranging with lots of different perspectives. We meet every month, either in person or on Zoom, and we have around 15-20 people attending each time. During our first sessions in 2019, we all shared our individual stories and where we were in our respective adoption journeys. There were 10 or so new members at around my age who had started their root tracing process, and I remember their sharing made me start to think about my own adoption journey; what should I be doing, and what should I be thinking about? I met a member called William and heard his story, and after that, I decided to start my own root tracing process the very next day.
Chapter 2: Family Matters
I grew up mainly in Hong Kong. I spent five years in the United States, moved back to Hong Kong for high school, then did my university in Canada and finally moved back to Hong Kong again in 2017. I found a job in hospitality and I’ve been here since then.
Sailing has always been a big part of my life. I think I was probably on a boat since I was born. My dad is from Brittany, the sailing capital of France, so everyone sails there. When I was little, I spent my summers in sailing camps, and when I was in university, I also taught sailing during the summers to make some money. It was fun. I used to sail competitively for Hong Kong, which was a good excuse to miss school and go sailing somewhere else! I caught the sailing bug early, and a lot of that comes from my dad.
My whole family is very big on cooking. Food plays an important role in both French and Malaysian culture and I remember lots of memories of just being in the kitchen, lot of dinner parties with friends over, always lots of cooking going on. Food is core to our family values; I think it’s how you choose to show love in many ways.
Even though Hong Kong is an international city, it’s still very traditional in many ways, and people still hold on to a very traditional definition of ‘family.’ I think ‘family’ extends beyond parental relationships to include friends, lots of friends, like I would consider Doreen family at this point. For me, ‘family’ is simply a constant, ongoing commitment to love, in good times and in bad.
Chapter 3: A Black Box
I think adoption is still a big black box for many people. This lack of understanding about adoption resulted in me getting lots of silly questions and negative responses when people found out that I’m an adoptee, I’d take this personally when I shared my story with them. They’d say things like “oh no!” or “I’m sorry”, negative responses that didn’t make me feel great. This lack of understanding makes me want to advocate for adoption, just to educate people that adoption is a different way of forming a family and that ‘different’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘bad.’ As an adoptee, I want to tell people not to just assume that adoption is negative.
My dad is Caucasian and my mom is Asian, so by just knowing my parents, people know that I’m adopted. I was very ashamed about it, and I think it would have been better if I’d had conversations earlier with people that I’m close to. But I think people are scared to even ask, so no one speaks anything and there’s no communication. Even for my best friends since I was ten years old, when I told them only a couple of years ago that I was adopted, I realized that they were scared to ask, and I was too scared to ask about it too. There was no exchange of information.
While I knew I was adopted, my parents and I rarely talked about it, and growing up, I never explored my adoption at all, even though I had many questions about my birth family, and the reasons why I was adopted. I asked my mom recently how come we never really spoke about adoption before, and she said it was because I never brought it up, so my parents thought I was fine.
But at a pivotal moment in my life, when I was 18, right before I left for university, my parents gave me a letter from my biological mother that she’d written before placing me for adoption. This letter was life-changing. It answered a lot of questions, and made me feel more at ease, more whole and at peace with myself.
I’ve now gone through my root tracing process and taken it as far as I can go. I’ve been able to pull all these pieces of my life together and it sort of makes more sense to me now. Finally, I can fully accept and embrace my story, and who I am.
All donations that Mother’s Choice received in the month of November will be dedicated to Adoption Services. Please support us and check out more about Adoption at: https://www.motherschoice.org/en/what-we-do/for-families/adopt-a-child/