"I think there are 40 children adopted from China, Taiwan or Korea in Danville and the surrounding area," she said. "We try to do things like this every year, but this is the first time we have formally celebrated Chinese New Year, and the response has been very positive."
Erwin was pleased to see both newly adopted children and some who are now teenagers take part.
Joe Frankel, whose daughter Meredith is now 13, was happy and surprised by the turnout.
"This is a wonderful thing to have all of these families and children here tonight, and I am amazed at how many kids there are in the area now," he said. "It is a good thing when they can organize events like this with so much participation."
Erwin and her husband, Bill, have five internationally adopted children, including Lauren, who was adopted from China.
Preserving the child's heritage
She said many parents find it important to preserve a connection to a child's native culture.
"We try to at least give our kids an appreciation for their culture and heritage," she said. "People will undoubtedly recognize a child born in China as Chinese even if they were raised in America, so they will be expected to know something about it."
Some parents at the celebration on Monday have enrolled their children in a Chinese school in Lexington on weekends.
Mike Lamb and his wife, Anne, have two daughters, Abbie, 5, and Katie, 6, who were adopted from China. He said they participate in the Lexington classes on Saturdays to learn Chinese language and music.
"It's been a joyful experience for them so far, and we think it is important to preserve their culture," he said. "It's not that we want to force that on them. We just want them to have a good background. When they are old enough to make the decision, they can choose how much a part of their lives that is."
Bessie Chiu, who operates House of Cheung and is originally from Hong Kong, was excited about hosting the event. She prepared a special menu for the evening and said she is pleased to see parents keeping children connected to the heritage of their birthplaces.
"I have really looked forward to this since I heard they wanted to do it," she said. "I want them to remember that Chinese customs are a part of them."