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British Chinese Adoption Study

Researchers: Julia Feast, OBE

Project overview

In the 1960s over 100 children from orphanages in Hong Kong came to the UK to be adopted by British families as part of a project organised by International Social Services. We funded the British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) to carry out a follow-up study of 100 of these adopted women, now aged in their 40s and 50s. The British Chinese Adoption Study (BCAS) started on 1st April 2009 and ran for two years.

This study explored the women’s experiences across a range of areas including relationships, family formation, education, employment and physical and mental health. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire pack and take part in a face-to-face interview. The information collected was compared with findings from other studies to explore the possible links between early childhood experiences and adult outcomes.

  • Researchers found no difference between the physical, psychological, family lives, educational outcomes and career outcomes of the women in the study when compared to a large sample of women in the general population of a similar age and a smaller sample of adopted women.
  • Within this picture, there are many accounts of the problems that resulted from the girls as children being visibly different and from a background that they did not share with their adopters. This undoubtedly did result in difficulties in many of the girl’s child, adolescent and adult lives. Some of these were blatant racism at school or in the community. Others were feelings of confusion and alienation in their family or at school.
  • Nonetheless over the course of time, most of the women made adjustments and found ways of living their lives that resulted in a positive sense of identity, a sense of community connectedness and belonging.
Adversity, Adoption and Afterwards

The full report of this study, Adversity, Adoption and Afterwards, is available to buy from the BAAF website.

Latest on this project


  • Julia Feast, OBE
    CoramBAAF Adoption & Fostering Academy

  • Director, Welfare
    Nuffield Foundation

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We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

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