13 May 2021
Until I’d met Eileen Chan I’d never heard the term “hidden children”. It’s a name given to the children of China who were born to parents that didn’t adhere to China’s one child policy, a program that was designed to curb China’s population explosion. The program began in the late 1970’s and was relaxed in 2016. There were severe penalties for those who didn’t follow the policy, so those who broke the law had to hide any extra children.
Raised by her grandmother, Eileen lived in a different town away from her parents, couldn’t carry her family name and to this day she still doesn’t have a birth certificate. In the eyes of the law, Eileen doesn’t exist in China - she is a persona non grata.
Perhaps that’s why Eileen seized an opportunity to live in another country, a place where she could have her own identity. The place she chose was the Gold Coast, a place where she is now studying social work at Griffith University. Eileen wants to be a social worker because she has a strong desire to help others in the community. For someone who grew up without being able to embrace her true identity away from her immediate family and without being able to openly show affection, that really is remarkable.