But the 68-year-old said on Thursday her fears were not confirmed until she was 10 and found a letter in her father’s document case written by her biological father, where he consented to give the newborn up for adoption because of poverty.
“I felt that I was very miserable. I really miss my birth parents. I just remember how the letter said my biological father had too many children and had no money to raise me,” Lam said as she fought back tears. “I had questions like ‘was he really this poor that he was not able to raise me’?”
“When I was older and had my own child, it was difficult for me to be apart from my baby even when I was simply leaving for work. I cannot understand how my birth mother could give me away,” she added.
Lam said she thought of confronting her adoptive parents, but backed off after her mother became emotional when she broached the subject.
She explained she had stifled her urge to find her birth family for almost 60 years and it was not until 2022 that she plucked up the courage to ask the Hong Kong Red Cross for help.
“Hong Kong Red Cross encouraged me to reach out to the media as they told me it would be such a shame if I did not take this opportunity,” she explained.
“My birthday is two days after the Mid-Autumn Festival, so I am especially longing for my birth family. If I find them, I want to know if they have lived happily and to share my religion with them.”
Lam never learned the full story of her adoption and never shared her secret with anyone, other than her husband and two children, until the Hong Kong Red Cross encouraged her to talk to her non-biological siblings.
Her sister finally told Lam the truth about her origins, a story her adoptive mother had told her just two months before she died five years ago.
Lam learned she was the youngest of four illegitimate children and that her birth mother was driven out of her family and unable to bring them up on her own.
“My adoptive mother did not tell me the story before because she was scared that I would cut ties with her or refuse to pay for her living expenses, which I would never do,” she said.
Lam said she believed a midwife had linked up her birth mother, who was living in Hung Shui Kiu at the time, and her adoptive parents, who had already endured two stillbirths and wanted to adopt.
“I have a great admiration for my adoptive mother. She helped raise my two children with all her heart. Among all of her grandchildren, she loved mine the most,” she said.
Lam was able to discover the names of her biological parents from her birth certificate, but the building where they had lived had been demolished.
Bessy Tam Pui-see, the Hong Kong Red Cross community service assistant manager, said a search had been in vain, although the organisation had contacted the government and banks, as well as phone and insurance companies.
“We have found a death certificate of someone with the same name as Lam’s biological father, but no further clues could be found,” Tam said. “We have also called people with the same names or surnames, visited potential addresses and put up search notices.”
“When there seemed to be no hope, we told Lam that there were still ways to find her family and we would be by her side as she continued her search.”
The Hong Kong Red Cross deals with an average of 220 inquiries a year for tracing of family members. The organisation said it had worked on more than 32,520 cases since 1951, with a success rate of 35 per cent.