Perpetual Child: Adult Adoptee Anthology, Dismantling the Stereotype
LUCY CHAU LAI-TUEN SHEEN
Amanda Transue-Woolston (Co-editor & Contributor)
Mei-Mei Akwai Ellerman (AN-YA Project Co-founder & Contributor)
Diane René Christian (An-Ya Project Co-founder & Publisher)
Diane: Tell us about your piece published in Perpetual Child: Adult Adoptee Anthology.
Lucy: My piece was just me thinking aloud consolidating thoughts that have been knocking around in my head for ages. I often used to hear the phrase “in the best interests of the child” most of my young life I was told that, “It was in my best interests” that this, that and the other had been done. The reason that I wasn’t allowed to keep my Chinese name, or learn to speak Chinese. It had been for my best interests that I’d been adopted. But as I grew older, I became less and less convinced that any of it had been in my best interests.
Diane: How did you approach writing your piece included inside the Anthology?
Lucy: I just wrote it – I sat down and wrote. I don’t mull, I don’t overly construct or plan other than I usually know roughly the starting point, mid point and the end.
Mei-Mei: Did reading the pieces by other contributors bring up any unexpected feelings, or issues of which you were unaware? If so, would you like to share a few examples?
Lucy: For me it gave me a sense of context, of validation that, the feelings that I’d had when growing up weren’t phantoms, were not figments of my imagination.
Mei-Mei: In what way did your relationship to your piece change [if at all], when reading it in the context of a collective work versus when you originally wrote it as a standalone piece?
Lucy: I strengthened my relationship to the piece, whilst it was individual and unique it was part of a bigger picture and a larger global story.
Diane: Do you have a particular time of day which you prefer to write/create?
Lucy: I suppose I never stop. I always carry a note book around with or my iPad or iPhone. I’ll make notes, jot down anything that comes into my head that I want to keep and will use— one day.
Amanda: Are there any adoptees that inspire you creatively? Feel free to answer in general terms of being inspired by the adoptee community if you do not wish to name anyone specifically.
Lucy: Steve Jobs. I suppose in that his philosophy and ethic for creation is inspiring.
Diane: Do you have a favorite “writing space”?
Mei-Mei: Do you need complete quiet, a "room of your own," when you write or can you write under any circumstances? Does your writing simply flow from your pen, finger tips, or do you actually hear what you are writing, or see it as it takes shape?
Lucy: It depends what I am writing and at what stage I am at— but usually no noise helps me to concentrate.
Amanda: Is feedback from other adoptees, other adoption community members, colleagues, or friends/loved ones a part of your creative process? If so, how do you include others in the creation of your pieces?
Lucy: Like any feedback it depends. I have found that those outside of the creative sector tend to apply a different set of criteria when they give feedback – which is fine – but it is not always best placed to be of assistance. If I am writing a play, or a film script, then no I would not seek general feedback, but specific sector related feedback from peers or experienced industry specialists, or those with a credible track record.
Mei-Mei: Given the choice to make three major changes in your life up to now, what would they be?
Lucy: 1) I would have remained in Hong Kong or at least gone back to Hong Kong to study. 2) I would have perhaps moved to the States after I had completed the film PING PONG in 1986 3) I would have accepted the offer to take up the Artistic Directorship of the Mulan Theatre Company back in the early 90s.
Amanda: Do you feel that your writing is in any way a legacy to your posterity or a tribute to your ancestors—or both? If so, in what ways do you feel your ancestors/descendants appear within or inspire your writing?
Lucy: Most definitely a tribute to my ancestors.
Diane: What projects are you currently working on?
Lucy: Three full length theatre plays, two short film scripts and anthology of my own poetry works and several lectures/talks on cultural sensitivity and diversity as well as several talks to potential adopting parents on things that they need to be aware of before they even think about looking for a child.
Diane: Have you read any great books recently?
Lucy: China Witness by Xinran.
Our thanks to Lucy for her contribution to the Anthology!
Visit Lucy Sheen at her website www.lucysheen.com
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