Nine-year-old Nikki playfully tweaks the nose of her adoptive father, American Ray Crete, at Beijing Capital International Airport yesterday. They were part of 34 foreign families invited by the Ministry of Civil Affairs to visit Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, where the children were adopted.
Images of mythical beasts and a legendary woman general come to her mind when 8-year-old Jocelyn Moffitt thinks of her birthplace.
"Jocelyn is captivated by tales of dragons and the general Mulan while my older daughter's perception of China comes from pictures of rural houses," Marleen Moffitt, a 53-year-old teacher from Cordova, Alaska, told China Daily yesterday.
Moffitt adopted Cadence, 11, in 1998 and Jocelyn in 2001.
The girls are part of a group of Chinese children adopted by 34 families from six countries joining a four-day trip to the youngsters' birthplace that began yesterday. The Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) organized the visit to help the children, all adopted from Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, to understand their roots better.
"My daughters and I are very pleasantly surprised to see that China is more developed compared to 10 years ago," Jeri Burman, of St George Island, Florida, said.
Burman, who works in the insurance industry, adopted two Chinese girls - Katie, 12, in 1996 and Sarah, 14, in 1998.
Families in 17 countries have adopted about 110,000 Chinese orphans who enjoy stable lives, a senior official of the MCA said yesterday in Beijing.
"We keep track of the children by asking for reports every half-year from the foreign adoption institutions involved," Liu Xiaolei, the deputy head of the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA), told China Daily yesterday.
The 17 countries have arrangements on orphan adoption since 1994, and the latest partner is Italy, where families have adopted 10 Chinese orphans since last summer, according to the latest figures released by the CCAA.
Families in the United States account for a bulk of the adoptions, with about 70,000 joining American homes in the past decade. Spain follows with more than 10,000, while Canada has a similar number.
The country's first adoption law in 1992 paved the way for adoption by foreigners. The authorities set up the CCAA in 1996, when it was given responsibility for adoptions by foreign and domestic families, as well as the care of children in social welfare institutions.