Police used facial recognition technology to analyze an old photo of him as a boy and came up with a simulated image of what he would look like as an adult, which they then compared with photos in the national database.
Over three decades after he was kidnapped as a toddler, Mao Yin finally got the chance to embrace his biological parents again this week. Taken from the Chinese city of Xi'an in the Shaanxi province, in 1988, the then 2-year-old was sold to a childless couple in the neighboring Sichuan province, reports CNN. Mao Yin's adoptive parents raised him as Gu Ningning without him ever knowing that his biological family had been searching for him for more than three decades. Their tireless search came to an end on Monday when they reunited with their son, tears flowing down all their faces.
According to BBC, born on 23 February 1986, Mao Yin was snatched on the way home from the nursery when his father, Mao Zhenjing, stopped to get him some water. The incident occurred on October 17, 1988, when the boy asked for a drink of water while they were returning home. In the brief moment his father looked away while cooling down some hot water, the toddler was taken without leaving behind any trace. Mao Zhenjing and his wife Li Jingzhi searched in and around Xian for their son, putting up missing posters all over the city for any information on the boy.
"I won't let him leave me anymore," cried his mom. https://t.co/OcXTs6jx4K— Shanghaiist.com (@shanghaiist) May 19, 2020
Determined to find her son at any cost, Li quit her job to search for him and handed out about 100,000 flyers in more than 10 provinces and municipalities without any success. She even appeared on numerous Chinese television shows over the years to appeal for help in the hope that her son might watch one of the programs one day. Over the years, she followed 300 possible leads to see if any of them was her missing son, reports the South China Morning Post, being left heartbroken each time the leads turned out to be a dead end.
A man who was abducted as a toddler 32 years ago was finally reunited with his biological family on Monday, with the help of facial recognition technology. https://t.co/YBT17vVSPE— CNN (@CNN) May 19, 2020
In 2007, Li became a volunteer at a group called Baby Come Home that tracks down kidnapped children. She has helped reunite 29 children with their families through her work with the group. Speaking of why she chose to volunteer with the group in a January 2020 interview, Li said: "Because at that time I had been searching for my son for over two decades, I knew how hard it could be. I also wondered if someone could give the same help to my son to find his family." Her efforts to find her missing son finally caught a break in April when police received a tip about a man from Sichuan Province who had adopted a baby years earlier.
The authorities used facial recognition technology to analyze an old photo of Mao Yin as a boy and came up with a simulated image of what he would look like as an adult, which they then compared with photos in the national database. Following a series of investigations and comparisons, police tracked down the adoptee—now a 34-year-old man—in the city of Mianyang, who was later confirmed to be the missing son using a DNA test. Officials discovered that the boy had been sold to a childless couple for 6,000 yuan ($845 today).
LOOK: A Chinese man who was abducted as a toddler 32 years ago was finally reunited with his biological family, with the help of facial recognition technology.— Tony News Network (@TNN_PH) May 19, 2020
Mao Yin was only two and a half years old when he was abducted by unidentified suspects in 1988 pic.twitter.com/39POBppcNb
Lin received the long-awaited news about her son on May 10—Mother's Day in China. "This is the best gift I have ever got," she said. Mao Yin, who now runs a home decoration business, reunited with his biological parents at a press conference organized by the police on Monday which was shown live on the state broadcaster CCTV. The family broke down in tears when they embraced each other after three long decades. "I don’t want to be separated from him anymore," said Li. "I would like to thank the tens of thousands of people who helped us."