Friday, November 15, 2013, 08:50
Focus Hong Kong: Prodigal parents
By Li Yao

More than 16 years after Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, many families separated owing to poverty or political upheavals still remain apart. Among organizations working actively to bring people back together is the Red Cross. Li Yao reports.

Focus Hong Kong: Prodigal parents

Macy Luk, 52, didn’t want to get her hopes up when she approached the Hong Kong Red Cross in July asking for help to find her birth parents.

She learned she was an adoptive child at the age of 11, when she stumbled upon a birth certificate for a girl born on the same day she was. She knew instinctively that she was Wong Ting-lam, the girl whose name was printed on the birth certificate. Curious as she was to learn the truth, it took her more than 40 years to muster the will to find her natural parents.

At the time, the 11-year-old Luk felt too shy to confront her adoptive mother with the evidence. The girl quickly put the paper back in the drawer. Luk never saw the paper again, even after her adoptive mother died in 2005. Luk felt the issue was too sensitive a topic to discuss with the only mother she ever knew and loved.

“My adoptive mother and I were very close. I didn’t want to do anything that might hurt her feelings,” Lu explained.

The paper cleared some of Luk’s childhood doubts. Luk never knew her adoptive father and felt confused when her adoptive mother told her that her father had died years before Luk was born.

Focus Hong Kong: Prodigal parents
An emotional family reunion at the Hong Kong Red Cross, where Luk (second from left) meets her birth mother (third from left), her older sister and younger brother.
She never was able to come to terms with the reality that her natural parents gave her up. She knew it might help for her to talk to somebody about the questions that plagued her but she was afraid. She feared anyone she talked to might betray her confidence and tell her adoptive mother.

Luk’s memory of the birth certificate was indelible. In July, encouraged by her husband and daughter, Luk visited the Hong Kong Red Cross’s tracing team seeking to discover the whereabouts of her birth parents. She obtained a replacement birth certificate. It listed the address where she was born: a maternity home on Shanghai Street. The place was demolished long ago.

“I understand my birth parents must have led a very difficult life. I don’t blame them. The only thing I care about is that they are well,” Luk said in early September. She presented a few photos and the birth certificate to local media. Media is one of the most effective channels the tracing team employs to get out the word. It worked for Luk.

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