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Mother meets with son abducted 24 years ago

By Yang Zekun | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-01-24 09:29

A woman's 24-year search for her abducted son ended in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Sunday when 52-year-old Li Fang was reunited with Zhang Yangyang.

Li and Zhang, 28, hugged each other excitedly and cried the moment they met at Wuhan's Tianhe International Airport. An overjoyed Zhang kissed his mother's forehead.

Li, from Luohe, Henan province, was informed by local police this month that they had found a man they suspected was her son, and she went to the local police station to offer a DNA sample.

On Saturday, the police told her the good news that the test result showed the man was her son. On Sunday, Li rushed to Wuhan, and Zhang flew there from Hainan province, where he is working.

Born in 1994, Zhang was abducted on June 6, 1998. He had been playing with a little girl around the door of a shop where Li worked in Luohe when a man, who told Zhang he was his relative, took him away.

Li had been searching for her son ever since. Many people provided clues over the past 24 years, but none had panned out.

Li's husband at the time and his family blamed her for the kidnapping. The couple divorced a year after Zhang's abduction.

Li began working as a barber to support herself. Whenever she had free time, she went out to look for her son, leading her to visit many cities during her search.

"If I had given up looking for my son, no one else would do it. My greatest hope was to find him," she said.

She received many phone calls from fraudsters, some pretending to be Zhang so they could get money from her. Some even called her "mom".Other scammers also contacted her, offering clues in exchange for money.

At first, Li was so eager to get her son back that she paid some of them, but she stopped doing so after she grew wiser.

Li also befriended a group of other people looking for their missing children, including Guo Gangtang, who found his son in June, 24 years after he disappeared, and Sun Haiyang, who last month located his son, who was abducted 14 years ago. Every time a child was found, the group would send congratulations to the family and take every opportunity to spread information about their missing children.

"We help each other as a family, whether we knew each other before or not. It is hard for others to feel our pain and suffering," she said.

Raised by a couple in Puning, Guangdong province, Zhang said he argued with the pair, who told him they were his adoptive parents, about four years ago when they encouraged him to find a wife.

"They said I was adopted, and at the time, I thought it was a joke to push me to get married," he said.

In December, police in Puning were reviewing household registrations and found that there was no blood type information for Zhang.

The police contacted Zhang to update their records. Through the course of the conversation, it was determined that he might have been adopted, so they uploaded his information to a database used to match missing people with their families.

On Jan 17, police in Luohe provided Zhang's contact information to Li, who couldn't wait to meet her missing son and sent Zhang a message. The two soon began chatting via video calls, leading up to their meeting on Sunday.

Li said she appreciated all the people who had helped her and believes that more children will be reunited with their parents, just as she was with her son.

In late 2020, the Ministry of Public Security launched a campaign called Reunion, which aimed to solve cases of child trafficking and abduction. By the end of last year, 10,932 missing and abducted people had been found.

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