For students

Whatever Next? - Winner

Best diversity, equality and inclusive initiative – one of two winners in our brand new Moving Mountains Micro Awards as of Inspire Launch Grow 2022.

Whatever Next founders: Josephine Jay, Addie Bara and Hannah Feben-Smith


Jo, Hannah, and Addie are three Chinese adoptees who started “Whatever Next?”, a project which highlights and amplifies adoptee voices by sharing insights from their daily lives and helping to create a better understanding of adoption and connect those interested or involved in the adoptee experience. They strike to positively impact the adoptive community while challenging misconceptions.

Founders: Josephine Jay, Addie Bara and Hannah Feben-Smith

The story

Our names are Jo, Hannah, and Addie, and we are three Chinese adoptees who grew up in the UK and US and met in Edinburgh in 2019. We are part of an ever-evolving group of around 145,000 Chinese children adopted abroad, now young adults who are tackling adulthood and all the trials that come with it.

Adoption can be an isolating experience that affects mental health and feeling of self-worth, with adoptees being four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-adoptees. A common thread we found from talking to other adoptees was a fractured sense of identity, where connecting different parts of our identities was often difficult. That’s why we created Whatever Next?, a podcast and artwork project that shares insights into our daily lives as Chinese adoptees to create a better understanding of the adoptee experience.

We raise awareness for and improve adoptee mental health in a time where adoption is fast becoming a more popular option for prospective parents and yet remains a largely unexplored and unknown topic. We believe that these conversations should not be limited to Chinese adoptees and should be expanded to include our friends, family, and loved ones. We want to address the culture of silence that has dominated the lives of generations of adoptees both internationally and domestically.

Current collaborations include Adoption UK Scotland and Holt International, who have helped over 20,000 and 1 million adoptive families respectively, in just one year. Moreover, we have just signed a book deal with 404 Ink to produce a body of work focused on exploring adult adoptive identities.

Our impact is measured through our awards, social media presence, and collaborations. Since founding Whatever Next? in 2021, we have won the 2021 Creative Edinburgh Student Award, received the Awesome Without Borders grant, are finalists for the Young Scot Awards 2022 for Diversity and Equality, as well as the EUSA Student Awards for Lasting Impact. Our podcast has over 1,000 streams, our website has over 7,000 views in 41 countries, and we have over 2,500 followers across our social media platforms. We have featured on BBC Radio Scotland, LBC, The Sunday Mail, and have held talks for the UK Government’s Race Forum and CACH-All Charity.

However, the most rewarding measurement of our progress is the personal messages we receive, such as: “Just wanted to DM you guys that I love your page and would love to participate in any conversation you have” – Instagram follower, 2021. We believe that our work positively impacts the adoptive community and informs those at its periphery while dismantling the culture of taboo at its centre.

Whatever Next? will help remind adoptees that they are not isolated in their experiences and that their voices and opinions have both weight and value.


Visit the Whatever Next? website 

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