These images show the moment an elderly father is reunited with his adult son nearly three decades after the man ran away from home as a young child in the early 1990s.
Lv Yincheng, 33, was last seen one morning in March 1993, when he was supposed to be following his older brother Lv Jincheng to school in the city of Zhumadian in Central China’s Henan Province.
According to the Lv family, Yincheng, who grew up with learning difficulties, was sulking that morning because his brother had hit him for misbehaving.
Instead of turning up at school, the then six-year-old Yincheng disappeared and never returned home, leaving his brother Jincheng with a guilty conscious which lasted over a quarter of a century.
His father Lv Liuyi, 71, searched across neighbouring provinces with his wife but found no sign of their lost son at a time when missing persons resources were few, and DNA databases and tracking technologies were nonexistent.
In a final effort to local their missing boy, who was by now an fully grown adult, Mr Lv and his wife gave samples of their DNA to provincial police in 2018, hoping a match would be found in one of the national databases.
The elderly father said: “It was like looking for a needle in the ocean.
“I never thought I would ever get to see my son again.”
In December 2019, missing persons authorities combing the database discovered a DNA match in the city of Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province in north-eastern China, where a man by the name of ‘Li Bo’ had been housed at a local welfare institute for the past 12 years.
Shenyang police revealed that the individual, who has communication difficulties, had been sent to the city’s main homeless shelter in 2008 aged 21.
At the time, he was unable to coherently tell them his name, and did not know the whereabouts of his family members, the authorities reported.
Samples of his DNA, however, confirmed he was Mr Lv’s long-lost son Yincheng.
Shenyang police officer Mei Xingmin reported: “In December 2019, we found a person listed as ‘Li Bo’ living in the city’s welfare institute.
“After we cross-checked his DNA with those of Mr Lv and his wife in Zhumadian, we concluded that Li Bo was in fact the couple’s missing son of more than 20 years.”
The authorities did not say where or how Yincheng had been living prior to being brought under state care.
Mr Lv and his firstborn Jincheng travelled to the Shenyang welfare institute and were reunited with Yincheng on 13th January.
The father revealed that the police were certain of his identity as the parent after he correctly stated that Yincheng had a scar on his thigh from his childhood.
His brother Jincheng, who now plans to take his younger sibling home, said: “After more than 20 years apart, we will have grown further apart as brothers.
“But after we go back, we will rebuild our relationship.
“We’re very grateful to the shelter for taking such good care of him. He’s so fat!
“Were it not for the shelter, we may not have seen him again in his lifetime.”
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