Chinese Parents Tearfully Reunited With Missing Son After 24 Years
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There were emotional scenes in north-west China when a pair of tearful parents were reunited with their son who had gone missing 24 years earlier.
Father Li Shunji and mother Du Li lost son Li Lei, now 27, at a crowded market in Xi'an city when he was just three years of age.
The couple hadn't seen nor heard from their son since 8 August 1984 and an underdeveloped communications network made it near impossible for them to trace him.
However, in an incredible turn of fate, Mr and Mrs Li were able to finally be reunited with their long-lost son after local police managed to successfully match his DNA on a database of missing children.
Mr Li still remembers the day Li Lei, affectionately nicknamed 'Lei Lei', went missing.
"I left home to start selling clothes at my stall," he said. "I hadn't realised that my son had followed me," father Li Shunji, 59, told Chinese Business Gazette.
"I only realised that he had gone missing after my wife came looking for me at the shop. My legs went numb instantly," Mr Li recalled.
Another couple found the lost boy wandering the streets and decided to take him in. They raised him as their own.
"Communication technology back then did not enable us to seek help efficiently," Mr Li said.
In the years that followed the disappearance, Mr Li sold his business, packed up and began travelling the country in search of his son.
While travelling, he printed out around 180,000 missing person flyers, carrying them in a sack around China and posting them up in various provinces.
"I kept telling myself, I mustn't give up. I must see my son again," Li said.
The distraught father says that the stress of the disappearance caused him to shed 59lbs in just three months.
However, a lucky break came after 24 long years when Chinese police were able to track Lei Lei down using a DNA database of missing children.
Lei Lei shared a tearful embrace with his father and was visibly overcome with joy at being reunited at long last.