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

For practically 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 aim: discovering his kidnapped son.

This week, Guo Gangtang’s search lastly ended. He and his spouse had 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 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 found you, my son, my son.”

“He’s been delivered into your hands, so you need to love him well,” Mr. Guo mentioned, attempting to consolation her whilst his personal voice shook.

The obvious blissful ending captivated China, the place Mr. Guo has turn into one thing of a folks hero. His cross-country odyssey, throughout which he mentioned he was thrown from his bike not less than as soon as and slept outdoor when he couldn’t afford a resort, impressed the 2015 movie “Lost and Love,” starring the famend Hong Kong actor Andy Lau.

After the reunion, Chinese social media stuffed with congratulatory messages. Hashtags concerning the Guo household had been considered lots of of thousands and thousands of occasions. “Today, ‘Lost and Love’ finally has a real happy ending,” the film’s director, Peng Sanyuan, mentioned in a video on Douyin, a social media app.

Child 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 Security mentioned this month that that they had positioned 2,609 lacking or kidnapped youngsters thus far this yr. Various experiences estimate the variety of youngsters kidnapped yearly in China could also be as excessive as 70,000.

Historically, little one abduction was linked, not less than partially, to China’s one-child coverage. At the peak 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 might have a son, in response to analysis by students at Xiamen University in Fujian Province. Chinese society has historically favored sons.

Andy Lau and Jing Boran within the 2015 movie “Lost and Love,” which is predicated on Mr. Guo’s story. “Today, ‘Lost and Love’ finally has a real happy ending,” mentioned the film’s director, Peng Sanyuan.Credit…China Lion

As 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 resembling a nationwide DNA database of lacking youngsters, stiffer felony penalties and higher public consciousness of kid trafficking have additionally helped curb the issue, mentioned Zhang Zhiwei, govt director of an anti-trafficking middle on the China University of Political Science and Law.

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

Mr. Guo’s son, named Guo Xinzhen at delivery, disappeared on Sept. 21, 1997. He had been taking part in on the door of his house 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 pals, fanned out throughout the area to seek for the boy. But after a number of months, the hassle waned. That was when Mr. Guo hooked up giant banners printed together with his son’s photograph to the again of a motorbike and got down to discover the boy on his personal.

“Son, where are you?” the banners mentioned, alongside a picture of the boy in a puffy orange jacket. “Dad is looking for you to come home.”

Over the years, 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 mentioned. Once, 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 visitors incidents that he misplaced depend. But he at all times set out once more.

“If I’m at home, the human trafficker is not going to deliver him back to me,” he mentioned in a 2015 interview with state tv.

In 2012, Mr. Guo based a corporation to assist different mother and father discover their lacking youngsters, and he mentioned he has helped dozens of different households discover their family members, whilst his personal search remained unsuccessful. His story rose to nationwide prominence with the 2015 movie. Earlier this yr 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 actor Andy Lau selling the movie “Lost and Love” in 2015. Mr. Guo’s search rose to nationwide prominence when the film got here out.Credit…Visual China Group, by way of Getty Images

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 obtained 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 mentioned that they had used “the newest comparison and search methods.” Further blood work confirmed that the 26-year-old man, who some native information experiences mentioned was working as a instructor, was Mr. Guo’s son.

The authorities later mentioned that that they had arrested a lady surnamed Tang and a person surnamed Hu. According to the state information media, Ms. Tang snatched the boy and delivered him to Mr. Hu, who then offered him. CCTV, the state broadcaster, mentioned the 2 had confessed.

Ahead 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 house, 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 mentioned 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 mentioned.

“If the child wants to be filial to his adopted parents, then you just need to openly and sincerely accept that,” he mentioned.

State media experiences mentioned that the youthful Mr. Guo had mentioned he would proceed dwelling with the couple that had raised him, who he mentioned had handled him effectively. But he mentioned he would go to his delivery mother and father typically.

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

“Our child has been found,” he mentioned. “From now on, only happiness is left.”