This is my journal entry from today Friday February 1st. 11.30am.
Just as we were at my Mother’s grave, my big brother kneeling and bowing on the floor, holding sticks of incense in prayer, and my big sister laying out the food for my Mother, and me not quite knowing what to do, I got this message from Winnie.
Bessy (Red Cross) has just rung and said they have found your other brother “name hidden” and made the appointment at 3:30pm at HK Red Cross today!
Totally surreal moment. Like being in a movie. The moment where everything comes together finally. My siblings always knew about him, my Mother had gone regularly to the village where she thought he had been sold and longed to know of him until her death. My siblings wanted to find him but were too scared to try. But being on the receiving end of being found by me has totally changed things. There is a shift in thinking from ‘he won’t want to know us, to he may be really pleased to know us’. At the news my eldest brother broke down and sobbed. After we managed to persuade him to find someone to take his art teaching duties for him this afternoon, that he must come with us to the Red Cross offices, it is confirmed that he will be reunited with his younger brother later today. 60 plus years after he and my mother returned home from farming to find their opium addicted father/husband had sold the little brother for 200 dollars. Twenty pounds! I’m crying inside. My heart is breaking at the thought of this.
There is some time between visiting my Mother’s grave and the Red Cross appointment. Dazed and confused, I share lunch in a huge cafe at Tai Po with my sisters and sister in Law. I go back to the house where my Mother lived with one sister and then go with her to meet my Brother at the bus stop. I listen to him tell me about his youth, the struggles to become and artist whilst trying to earn money for his family, as we ride the bus to the Red Cross Office. He tells me I have my Mother’s courage and determination and hope, and because I have these qualities, that he believes himself to lack, and an education, I am unstoppable. He thanks me for reuniting him with his brother, for reuniting the whole of the family in time for Chinese New Year, in the year my Mother would be 100. He believes she has sent me. I believe this too.
And in the Red Cross Office…. I sob. Uncontrollably I weep. To see the brothers hug and hold each other after 60 years of longing. To see my eldest sister and my newly found brother’s wife crying with joy. My newly found big brother has had a difficult time since his ‘adoption’ and is sobbing with joy after finding his real family. So many crying people. I cry with joy that finally we will all be together when my little sister returns from her holiday in Japan tomorrow, but also with sorrow because I realise that they are all reunited but soon I will leave them all behind. I also weep with frustration because I cannot understand a word of what is being said around me, and much is being said. Winnie translates as best she can, but it’s not possible for her to participate and tell me everything that’s being said. A room full of crying people talking in Cantonese and Hakka, and me crying, silently, looking on.
Below, a summary of how I got to this point, more for my benefit, than yours! Just for the record.
90 days to find a long lost family.
I came to HK on 14th November giving myself 90 days to find my Long Lost Family. From the paperwork I had tracked down from Warwickshire County Council (my adoptive Mother destroyed/lost? my records) I believed I was my Mother’s youngest daughter. The fourth child of four, that I had my Mother and an elder brother and two elder sisters to find. I had a huge shock in November when I was told by Social Welfare Department that my Mother had had 7 children including me when she was forty years old. Her first 2 children had died in infancy, I had been adopted to the UK and one son, older than me had been ‘given away’. But I had been right about trying to find a big brother and two big sisters. There was just one more brother to find as well. I also at that point realised it was unlikely my Mother was still alive as she would be around 98 and had been in poor health when she had me.
Armed with this knowledge, Winnie, who has been helping me with this search, did a death search for my Mother and found that she had died in 1997 aged 78. The death certificate had been signed by her daughter, my sister, and there was an address. We asked the HK Red Cross root tracing service to intervene at this point, and met with them on Tuesday 22nd January to sign papers to authorise them to act on my behalf.
I had another surprise Thursday 24th January when the Red Cross told me, via Winnie, that my Mother had gone on to have another daughter after me. I had a little sister, I was actually number 7 of 8 children.
I was reunited with my eldest sister at the Red Cross offices on Tuesday 29th January 2019. I was reunited with my eldest brother, my eldest sister (2nd meeting) my second eldest sister at a dinner on Wednesday 30th January. I also met my nephew (eldest brothers son) and niece (daughter of my surprise younger sister) and my sister in law (wife of eldest brother).
Following the meeting where I met my eldest sister. Winnie, she and I decided to ask the Red Cross to help us again to try and find the other brother who had been given away. He had been sold aged 4, by his Father whilst my Mother and elder brother were out working one day, to raise money, it would seem to buy opium (whether this is true I am not sure). (He also changed my eldest brothers name from Wong Shui Mok to Wong Tim Fat which means get rich quick). One of the reasons Winnie and I could not trace my siblings was because their names have been changed. Name changes (including mine) feature heavily in this saga. It would seem only 2 of us 6 siblings have not had name changes.
At the reunion dinner on Wednesday 30th January, we agreed I would go today, February 1st, with my siblings to visit my Mother’s grave together.
Big Brother has wife (met) and one son (met) and one grandson aged 6
Big sister has one son and one grand daughter aged 10, husband died many years ago.
2nd Big brother has wife (met) and 2 daughters and one son not yet met and Ages not yet known
2nd big sister, has been married but no children
Me – I have a husband, one son and a daughter in law and a grand daughter and a daughter and stepson. Yay.
Little sister, yet to meet. Has husband and 2 daughters. I have met one.