CAN has curated a series of six digital commissions – half a dozen fascinating and very varied responses to the pandemic from artists working in film, music, theatre, tech and more.
A transracial Chinese adoption story – the heartfelt, moving and spirited story of Jasmine Hartley unfolded via daily Instagram posts and a weekly blog throughout July, accompanied by images from Edalia Day. Jasmine knows she is from Wuhan and at the height of the Covid crisis finds she can no longer ignore her origins or resist the pull of the past.
A WORD FROM THE AUTHOR We asked Naomi, herself a transracial adoptee, what the project was like to work on and what the responses from her audience has been.
“Wait I’m From Wuhan is my very first piece of digital work so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of response. I was worried people wouldn’t relate to a fictional character or other adoptees would be annoyed that their stories and experiences were being told by a person who did not really exist. While the first few days were quiet in terms of responses/comments soon people started to talk back to Jasmine and I saw that her story DID resonate and have relevance to people from all over the world. People have visited the blog from over 20 different countries which is really exciting – I expected visitors from America, Canada, UK and Australia but we’ve also had people from Finland, Afghanistan, India and Andorra which was a lovely surprise.
What I found quite moving were how open and honest people were in their answers to some of the questions Jasmine posed e.g. What would you ask your birth parents if you had the chance, what are your experiences of racism and what are your hopes and fears related to reunion? Adoptees with experience of searching/reunion shared resources and advice – there was a huge sense of care surrounding this story and character.
It was also interesting to hear feedback from non-adoptees including East Asian people living in predominantly White communities who identified with aspects of Jasmine’s life. While I always hoped that Jasmine’s story would be relevant to transracial adoptees it was great that a few White Mums with Chinese daughters also felt comfortable enough to respond with their thoughts.”
Naomi Sumner Chan, July 2020
Responses to Wait I’m From Wuhan
‘Wait I’m From Wuhan’ gives such an intimate and personal insight into transracial adoption. During this pandemic, when we have all been made to think about our families perhaps a little differently and more urgently than usual, this piece really brings into focus difficult questions of belonging, identity and otherness. I feel comforted and less lonely knowing that there are others looking for the same answers” Jennifer Tang, Director
“Adoption during the One Child Policy era feels like a niche topic in the UK, but Naomi Sumner’s piece reminds us that we are not alone, and brings us a source of connection, a space to explore questions around our identity and heritage that our social circles wouldn’t necessarily understand. Part humorous commentary, part refuge for the British Chinese adoptee, it’s a unique project for reflection during this time of digital exploration.” Lian Wilkinson, Executive Producer Yellow Earth Theatre
“Jasmine’s blog has been something I look forward to reading, at a time when much of the news and media we consume is so negative. She tells a story that many transracial adoptees share in a relatable but thought-provoking way. It’s also topical and has shone a light on the experiences of Chinese and Asian adoptees who have experienced racism among other challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, and given a voice to those of us, myself included, who may be afraid or unable to articulate our feelings around the current climate so well.” Hannah Mei , UK Meetups Lead for China’s Children International and Young Adult rep for adoptee charity CACH-All.
I LOVE “Wait, I’m from Wuhan” created by Naomi Sumner! It’s so important that adoptee voices be elevated and heard especially during times like COVID where people are feeling more isolated than usual. ” Lynelle Long, Founder of Intercountry Adoptee Voice