A Chinese man who was kidnapped as a toddler 32 years ago was reunited with his biological parents during an emotional news conference Monday after police used facial recognition technology to track him down and confirm his identity, according to reports.
The man born Mao Yin was just 2 years old when he was abducted in 1988 outside a hotel entrance in the Chinese city of Xi’an, in Shaanxi province, the BBC reported.
He was walking home from a nursery with his father, who had stopped at the hotel to get his son a drink of water. Mao Zhenping said he took his eyes off his son just briefly before realizing he was gone.
The child’s mother, Li Jingzhi, then quit her job and began a decades-long search for her abducted son, which involved sending out more than 100,000 flyers and making television appearances, including one as recent as January 2020, in which she pleaded for his return, South China Morning Post reported. She followed 300 leads but none drew her closer to her son.
Through her work with the non-profit “Baby Come Home,” she has helped reunite 29 families with their own missing children, The Guardian reported.
“I would like to thank the tens of thousands of people who helped us,” Li told Xinhua news agency. “I can’t believe that after helping 29 missing children find their families, I am able to find my own son.”
The now 34-year-old man was raised by the name Gu Ningning some 380 miles away in the city of Mianyang, in the Sichuan province without ever realizing he was the subject of the decades-long search seen on TV. He said he planned to stay in Xi’an for a couple of days to spend time with his birth family.
“To be honest, I’m not quite sure about the future yet,” the son told Xinhua news agency.
Authorities now say the boy was sold to a childless couple by his abductors for 6,000 yuan (about $845 today). It remained unclear if the adoptive parents were aware of the kidnapping plot.