Parents Who Never Stopped Searching Reunite With Son Abducted 24 Years Ago



For almost 24 years, the daddy crossed China by motorcycle. With banners displaying photographs of a 2-year-old boy flying from the again of his bike, he traveled greater than 300,000 miles, all in pursuit of 1 purpose: discovering his kidnapped son.

This week, Guo Gangtang’s search lastly ended. He and his spouse have been reunited with their son, now 26, after the police matched their DNA, in response to China’s public safety ministry.

In a scene captured by Chinese language state tv, the trio clung to one another tearfully at a information convention on Sunday in Liaocheng, Mr. Guo’s hometown in northern Shandong Province.

“My darling, my darling, my darling,” Mr. Guo’s spouse, Zhang Wenge, sobbed as she embraced the younger man. “We discovered you, my son, my son.”

“He’s been delivered into your arms, so you might want to love him properly,” Mr. Guo stated, attempting to consolation her at the same time as his personal voice shook.

The obvious glad ending captivated China, the place Mr. Guo has grow to be one thing of a people hero. His cross-country odyssey, throughout which he stated he was thrown from his bike not less than as soon as and slept outside when he couldn’t afford a lodge, impressed the 2015 movie “Misplaced and Love,” starring the famend Hong Kong actor Andy Lau.

After the reunion, Chinese language social media full of congratulatory messages. Hashtags in regards to the Guo household have been considered tons of of hundreds of thousands of occasions. “Immediately, ‘Misplaced and Love’ lastly has an actual glad ending,” the film’s director, Peng Sanyuan, stated in a video on Douyin, a social media app.

Youngster abduction is a longstanding downside in China. There are not any official statistics on the variety of youngsters kidnapped every year, however officers on the Ministry of Public Safety stated this month that they’d positioned 2,609 lacking or kidnapped youngsters to date this 12 months. Numerous reviews estimate the variety of youngsters kidnapped yearly in China could also be as excessive as 70,000.

Traditionally, youngster abduction was linked, not less than partially, to China’s one-child coverage. On the top of the coverage’s enforcement within the 1980s and 1990s, some {couples} resorted to purchasing younger boys on the black market to make sure they’d have a son, in response to analysis by students at Xiamen College in Fujian Province. Chinese language society has historically favored sons.

Because the central authorities started easing enforcement of the coverage within the early 2000s — earlier than ending it in 2015 — reported abductions fell sharply. Technological advances similar to a nationwide DNA database of lacking youngsters, stiffer felony penalties and higher public consciousness of kid trafficking have additionally helped curb the issue, stated Zhang Zhiwei, government director of an anti-trafficking middle on the China College of Political Science and Regulation.

Nonetheless, the specter of abduction continues to weigh on many Chinese language. On Monday, a number of police departments within the japanese metropolis of Hangzhou issued statements denying viral rumors about tried kidnappings.

Mr. Guo’s son, named Guo Xinzhen at beginning, disappeared on Sept. 21, 1997. He had been taking part in on the door of his residence whereas his mom cooked inside, in response to interviews the elder Mr. Guo has given through the years.

A frantic Mr. Guo and his spouse, together with household, neighbors and associates, fanned out throughout the area to seek for the boy. However after a number of months, the hassle waned. That was when Mr. Guo hooked up giant banners printed together with his son’s picture to the again of a motorbike and got down to discover the boy on his personal.


“Son, the place are you?” the banners stated, alongside a picture of the boy in a puffy orange jacket. “Dad is searching for you to return residence.”

Over time, Mr. Guo wore out 10 bikes, touring from Hainan within the south to Henan within the north, chasing down any tidbits of knowledge, he has stated. As soon as, on a wet day, a rock slipped off a truck mattress in entrance of him, sending his motorbike toppling. He had so many near-miss site visitors incidents that he misplaced depend. However he at all times set out once more.

“If I’m at residence, the human trafficker just isn’t going to ship him again to me,” he stated in a 2015 interview with state tv.

In 2012, Mr. Guo based a company to assist different mother and father discover their lacking youngsters, and he stated he has helped dozens of different households discover their family members, at the same time as his personal search remained unsuccessful. His story rose to nationwide prominence with the 2015 movie. Earlier this 12 months he additionally started selling anti-trafficking consciousness on the social media app Douyin, the place he had gained tens of 1000’s of followers even earlier than his son was discovered.

The newest growth in Mr. Guo’s story additionally appeared like one thing straight out of a screenwriter’s creativeness.

In June, regulation enforcement officers in Shandong acquired discover of a possible match for Mr. Guo’s son in Henan Province, in response to the general public safety ministry. It was not instantly clear how officers had recognized him, although they stated they’d used “the most recent comparability and search strategies.” Additional blood work confirmed that the 26-year-old man, who some native information reviews stated was working as a instructor, was Mr. Guo’s son.

The authorities later stated that they’d arrested a girl surnamed Tang and a person surnamed Hu. In line with the state information media, Ms. Tang snatched the boy and delivered him to Mr. Hu, who then bought him. CCTV, the state broadcaster, stated the 2 had confessed.

Forward of the reunion, a dazed Mr. Guo and his spouse purchased greater than 1,000 kilos of sweet to distribute to neighbors in celebration. Mr. Guo additionally cleaned out his residence, tossing out previous belongings to commemorate a brand new starting.

In an interview forward of the reunion with Chen Luyu, a talk-show host, the mother and father veered between jubilation and paralysis. Sitting at their eating desk, Ms. Zhang, Mr. Guo’s spouse, broke down a number of occasions, questioning if their son would blame her for not watching him intently sufficient.

Mr. Guo stated he bore no resentment towards the couple that had raised his son. How his son would deal with that couple going ahead was as much as him, he stated.

“If the kid desires to be filial to his adopted mother and father, you then simply have to overtly and sincerely settle for that,” he stated.

State media reviews stated that the youthful Mr. Guo had stated he would proceed residing with the couple that had raised him, who he stated had handled him properly. However he stated he would go to his beginning mother and father usually.

The elder Mr. Guo informed Ms. Chen, the tv host, that he was content material with regardless of the future introduced.

“Our youngster has been discovered,” he stated. “Any longer, solely happiness is left.”


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