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KARIEN: My name is Karien. This is my husband Robin and we have two adopted children - Suet Yi and Suet Hua - who are 11 and 7.

ROBIN: Because you get them older you miss out on some of the stages. In some ways that's not so bad. You miss out on all the dirty nappies…

KARIEN: Robin thought that was great.

ROBIN: The screaming nights, and I don't know that I've ever missed that. People tell me that I should have but I'm not sure that I did. So there's a differences there. The other difference is of course that there's no English language at all, so it's actually quite difficult to..

KARIEN: Know how the children are thinking..

ROBIN: And to communicate and know what they're thinking. But it only took about three months before she was speaking English at a level of children her age.

KARIEN: It was very quick. Kids are just so clever.

I worried about the emotional part of and it's like anybody having a baby because people say, 'I don't know it I'm going to love this baby.' And with Suet Yi I kept questioning myself initially, and she was so beautiful, wasn't she. She was just like a little doll and I'm going, 'But do I love her because she's so gorgeous or do I love her really properly?'

So I was asking myself that and sometimes I'd feel well, not guilty: I didn't know, you know, and I found that a bit hard.

She loved her foster mother so I was the foster mother's replacement, you see, so she was a bit more guarded with me. You could see she'd cuddle me but it wasn't like she really meant it, like I didn't think, and I didn't know how I felt either at first.

But then it all happens and it's wonderful, so with Suet Hua, who was really a devil, would have been the hardest one to bond with, not a problem because I didn't have to..

ROBIN: Analyse it so much.

KARIEN: Yes.

ROBIN: We wanted them from the same cultural group as Suet Yi because we thought they may have problems as they grow up, being adopted, and we thought that would be much easier if they were at least both from the same culture and they would be able to identify much better as sisters that way. So, right or wrong, that's our thinking on that.

And, in fact, a beautiful adjunct to that is that when we first got Suet Hua the social worker person that was there at the time introduced Suet Yi to Suet Hua as JJ which is Chinese for big sister, and to this day that's what Suet Hua calls her. She still calls her JJ, and has never called her anything different.

They are all different, all unique and so yes, there are unique problems. We haven't met anything yet that has been a problem that we can't overcome though.

KARIEN: I mean we have a big family and lots of nieces and nephews and you look at what they've done and I can't see anything different really.

Oh well, I sometimes.. I don't worry but Suet Yi particularly, she's getting older now so she's becoming more aware of what adoption is and she just said one day 'Is adoption a bad thing Mum?', and I said, 'Well, why?' But somebody had teased her little bit on the issue about it and it obviously got to her it made her think a bit more about it, where's she's just our daughter, you know.

ROBIN: But to illustrate how much it's not really in her mind, within the last 12 months, quite recently, she came home from a friend's place, 'Well, Laura's asking me these questions about being adopted. How does she know I'm adopted, because I've never told her?'. And we thought, Okay, it shows that you're really not looking at the differences.

KARIEN: I said to her, I said to Suet Yi, 'Look at the eyes.'

ROBIN: It's certainly true that you wish for your children exactly the same as everybody else does, perhaps a little bit more because they have had a different start to their life and we certainly know that they all have that little bit of longing to know where they came from, why they were adopted out and so I guess, there's always going to be that little bit of loss that they might feel in their lives.

So for our children I guess we wish even a little bit more success and happiness than perhaps normal biological parents do but yeah, we want them to be happy. We'd like them to be successful in whatever they choose to do, and just well-liked, healthy, secure.

We do feel very lucky that we got two children, extremely different but both who are just loveable kids. We've got a family that we couldn't possibly ever hope to improve on or ever want to change so it's been overall a fantastic experience, a fantastic result.

The thing that people always say to us, always, 'Aren't the children lucky to have been adopted here', and the answer to that is simply, 'No, we're the lucky ones to have received them.' It's that simple.
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