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Remaking Chinese Families: Narratives and Practices of Adoptive Families in Hong Kong

Project Scheme:
General Research Fund
Project Year:
2019/2020
Project Leader:
Dr CHAN, Kit Wa Anita
(Department of Social Sciences)
Remaking Chinese Families: Narratives and Practices of Adoptive Families in Hong Kong

The purpose of this research is to address this research gap by bringing in the voices and experiences of this ‘invisible group’. It will explore the narratives and experiences of Chinese adoptive families in Hong Kong and glean the ways and extent that values and practices associated with family, kinship, parenthood and childhood have been negotiated and reconceptualised.

Adoption is an under-researched and almost neglected area in Hong Kong.

 

Adoption has been practised in Chinese societies for a long time (Goody, 1969; Watson, 1975). Historically, in Hong Kong children were adopted to inherit land or property, provide old-age security and serve as child-brides (Ko, 2001). In the 1940s and 1950s, many children, female in particular, were abandoned by poverty-stricken families, who were later adopted by Caucasians and Chinese living overseas (O’Brian, 1994). After the Adoption Ordinance was amended in 1972, adoption became formalised in Hong Kong, and unrelated closed adoption became the norm. From the late 1980s to mid-1990s, more local Chinese couples became adoptive parents. According to Ko (2001), those Chinese parents desired girls than boys, were more child-centred than adult-centred, and valued the emotional bond with the child than on the continuation of family tree and benefits brought to parents. However, Chinese adoptive parents felt stressful because of the social stigma toward infertility and adoption.

 

Apparently, adoption reveals some significant changes as well as persistent cultural bias regarding Chinese values on biological ties, kinship, family, parenthood, and childhood. So far, unfortunately, Ko’s first study on adoptive families in 2001 remains the only study to have been done as of 2018. The ‘invisibility’ of adoptive families probably explains why the Hong Kong government does not see the need to provide post-adoption service (LegCo, 2018); and why studies on Hong Kong family changes, diversity and policy have not included this family form in their investigation (Chow & Lum, 2008; Department of Social Work and Social Administration, 2018; Policy 21, 2015).

 

The purpose of this research is to address this research gap by bringing in the voices and experiences of this ‘invisible group’. It will explore the narratives and experiences of Chinese adoptive families in Hong Kong and glean the ways and extent that values and practices associated with family, kinship, parenthood and childhood have been negotiated and reconceptualised.