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Family ties join China and Australia
By Wang Qian (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-04-15 07:47

Australian mother Robyn Thornton said she fell in love with her adopted Chinese daughter the moment she first saw her picture nine years ago.

"She is mine," Ms Thornton remembered thinking as she stared at the image of Shi Xiaolan, then aged three years.

The young girl had been dumped behind a bank just one day after her birth in July 1997.

"It is destiny that her parents deserted her so she could meet me," Ms Thornton said.

The mother and daughter are just one of 49 Australian families who have adopted Chinese girls and have been invited to Beijing to celebrate the 10th anniversary of China-Australia inter-country adoption cooperation.

Since 1994, families from 17 countries have adopted Chinese children. America has adopted the most children - more than 70,000 - while Spain comes in at number two.

Australian families have adopted 725 Chinese children, Australian figures show.

Ji Gang, of the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA), said there were not enough Chinese children to cater for the demand from foreign families.

In response, the CCAA has tightened its requirements and lowered the eligible age of parents from 55 to 50.

Reflecting on the adoption process yesterday, Ms Thornton said she had difficulty communicating with Xiaolan when they were first introduced in a poor village in Guangdong province.

But mother and daughter developed a strong bond over the next six months. Ms Thornton bought toys for the young girl and began teaching her English.

"She was just like a new-born baby who needed caring and guidance all day long," said Ms Thornton, the director of a childcare center.

When Xiaolan was aged six the family returned to Guangdong province to help the young girl understand her past.

Today, Xiaolan, aged 13, is interested in reading, writing and math. She will begin middle school this year.

She said she hoped to also adopt one day: "It is a shock to see such a poor village and I will return and adopt a Chinese kid like what mummy has done."

(China Daily 04/15/2009 page3)