Chinese Li Jingzhi searched for his abducted son for 32 years before hearing the good news: Mao Yin, who had disappeared at the age of 2, had finally been found.
The reunion of the boy and his biological parents in May was a major media event in China. The incredible story made headlines abroad as well.
Now Jingzhi has told the BBC what happened when the cameras went off.
Jinghzi says he heard that his son had been sold a year after the abduction to a childless couple for an amount equivalent to about 760 euros in current money. The couple named the boy Gu Ningning and raised her own.
Yin had seen Jinghz on television a few years ago and thought that the woman looking for her missing son seemed cordial. He had also noticed how Jinghz's son resembled what he had looked like as a child.
However, it was not until this year that it became clear that he was indeed Jinghz's son.
Mao Yin with his biological parents in May.
Photo: China Daily CDIC / Reuters
After seeing him again in May, Yin spent a month in his former hometown of Xi'an. He took turns staying with his father and mother, who had divorced years ago.
The mother says she looked at several old photos with her son, but Yin remembered nothing of her childhood with her real parents.
- It sometimes makes my heart ache, Jinghzi admits.
- After my son came back, he also wanted to find some picture or memory of his life with me, but so far he has not found it.
Today, 34-year-old Mao Yin lives with his own family in Chengdu. Jinghzi has not wanted to persuade the boy to move closer.
- She's an adult now. He has his own way of thinking. He has his own life. Jia Jia (Mao Yin’s nickname) is married and has her own family. So I can only wish him a good distance. I know where my son is. I know he's alive. That's enough.
The duo are in close contact with each other almost daily.
Jinghzi actively sought his son for years. Shortly after the boy’s disappearance, parents distributed leaflets in more than 10 provinces.
Jinghzi also appeared on several TV shows talking about his son’s case.
Although Jinghzi had to wait for her son to be found for more than 30 years, during that time she had time to help 29 families find their own missing children.
Read more: The 2-year-old boy disappeared without a trace as his father looked elsewhere for a moment - now 32 years later the mystery was solved by a clue