A Chinese couple who spent over three decades looking for their son after he was abducted in the late ’80s were reunited with him last week in what local media called one of the county’s “most notorious” missing child cases.
Mao Yin, who is now 34, was headed home from kindergarten in Xian with his father Mao Zhenjing back in 1988 when he said he was thirsty, mom Li Jingzhi shared with the South China Morning Post.
The father stopped at the entrance of a hotel to get his son some water and looked away quickly, in which time his son was taken and sold to a couple who didn’t have children for the equivalent of $840 today, the BBC reported.
Both Li and her husband decided to dedicate their lives to tracking down their son. Li quit her job to focus full-time on the search, frequenting Chinese television shows where she would beg for help.
The grown-boy Mao said that he had seen Li talking about her missing son on TV before, but never realized he was the son in question, CNN reported.
The search came to a close in early May after Xian police used facial recognition technology to analyze old photos of Mao, the Morning Post reports.
And after creating a simulated image of what he may look like now, they compared that photo to those in a national database, and a DNA test finally confirmed that he was, in fact, Li’s son, CNN reported. He was allegedly living over 600 miles away, and going by the name Gu Ningning.
While Li discovered her son had been found on May 10, which is Mother’s Day in China, the family was finally reunited on Monday in a police news conference streamed by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
“This is the best gift I have ever got,” Li said of the good news.
The parents were seen very emotional during the reunion as they pulled their son in for a hug for the first time in 32 years.
“I don’t want him to leave me anymore,” Li reportedly said. “I won’t let him leave me anymore.”
While an investigation into his abduction is still ongoing and zero information has been released about the couple who raised him, Mao says he will move to Xian to live with his biological parents.
Despite over 51,000 families registered on a missing child platform, China does not keep official tallies on how many children are kidnapped each year.
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