Thirty years ago, when Li Jingwei was four years old, a neighbor kidnapped him from his hometown in China’s Yunnan province and sold it to a child trafficker.
But now, he has been reunited with his mother after drawing a map of his village from his memory from three decades ago and sharing it on popular video-sharing app Douyin in hopes someone could identify it. get its position.
“I’m a kid looking for my home,” Li said in the video. Unable to recall the village name or exact address, Li could only recall and draw the main features of the village including the school, bamboo grove and pond.
“I remember the location of every tree, rock, cow and even where the road turns and where the water flows.”, Li said in a later interview.
Shared on Douyin – the Chinese version of TikTok – on December 24, the map was quickly confirmed to match a village in Yunnan, where a woman had a son who had been missing since childhood.
The son was later identified as Li through DNA tests, leading to an emotional reunion in the last days of 2021. Video of the reunion shows Li carefully touching every corner of his mother’s face before shedding tears and hugging her.
“Thirty-three years of waiting, countless nights of longing, and finally a hand-drawn memory map, this is the time to look forward to after 13 days.” Li wrote on his Douyin profile before the reunion. “Thank you to everyone who helped reunite me with my family.”
“My mother cried as soon as I answered the phone. After the video call, I recognized her at a glance. My mother and I have the same lips, even teeth.” I said.
Kidnapped in 1989, Li was later sold to a family in Lankao, more than 1,700 kilometers away. At that time, child abductions were common in China and Li could be arrested because many families wanted a son.
Li said he was inspired to search for his biological family after seeing similar stories in the media. They describe two kidnappings that ended in reunions.
One case is Guo Gangtang, who became famous in the media after searching for his missing son for 24 years, traveling more than 480,000 km by motorbike, and finally succeeded.
“When I watched Guo Gangtang’s story, I thought to myself: I should try to find my biological parents… I want to meet them while they are still alive.” Li said.
“I realized that I couldn’t wait any longer because my parents were getting older now. I worry that by the time I find out where I’m from, they might be dead.” he shared after posting his map.