After Father's 14-Year Search, Abducted Boy Is Found

Chinese couple had been looking for Sun Zhuo since he was taken in 2007
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2021 9:40 AM CST
Updated Dec 11, 2021 5:25 PM CST
After Father's 14-Year Search, Abducted Boy Is Found
Stock image of a child.   (Getty Images)

The story of their quest for their missing son inspired a hit 2014 movie. Now, seven years later, a cinematic ending. CNN reports that a couple who've searched the ends of China for their boy since 2007 were reunited with him on Monday. Sun Zhuo, now 18, was taken in the city of Shenzhen as a 4-year-old; the Straits Times reports he was playing outside his house at dusk when a man made off with him. Father Sun Haiyang journeyed to almost every region of China over the ensuing years to look for the boy, an effort that was fictionalized in the film Dearest, which grossed upwards of $50 million. The teen was ultimately found using technology: Facial recognition software led police to a suspected kidnapper identified as Wu in the eastern province of Shandong.

Sun Zhuo wasn't with the kidnapper but had been living with an adoptive family for a decade and said Monday that he only learned he'd been abducted when police made contact with his teachers. His identity was confirmed via DNA testing. CNN explains China's formerly restrictive one-child policy drove some child abductions there, with families, "especially those in rural areas [who] viewed boys as more able to provide for the family, and carry on the family line, driving a black market for infant boys, and pushing many families to give infant girls up for adoption."

Police say that doesn't entirely appear to be the case here: The South China Morning Post reports police say Sun was sold to a couple who had two daughters, and that he was raised as their third child. Sun's adoptive mother was also detained (her husband wasn't due to illness), as was Wu. She's set to stand trial and faces up to three years if convicted of buying an abducted child, though the Morning Post notes the sentence can be shortened if said child was treated well, as Sun has been. (More child abduction stories.)

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