A seven year old boy who was kidnapped in Shenzhen in 2008 has been reunited with his father yesterday, in a miracle that could only have happened in this day and age, thanks to the internet.I've posted before about the potential of the internet in birth family searches by China adoptees:
The emotional reunion was witnessed and live-tweeted by Phoenix Weekly's 《凤凰周刊》 senior correspondent Deng Fei (邓飞), who accompanied Peng Gaofeng to Pizhou, Jiangsu Province following a tip-off that his son was there. Deng had interviewed Peng three years ago, shortly after his son, Peng Wenle (彭文乐), disappeared, and since then has become something of an activist against child trafficking.
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Peng received a call from a university student in Jiangsu Province who said he saw a child in Pizhou that resembled his son. The student had come across his son's picture, circulating on Sina Weibo, after a grassroots campaign led by Professor Yu Jianrong (于建嵘) inspired Chinese internet users nationwide to take pictures of beggar children they come across and put them online.
Initially, Peng was unexcited by the call. Over the last three years, he had received many such calls and each time he was left disappointed and depressed. The student told Peng that he would try to snap a picture of the child and send it to him. On the eve of Chinese New Year, that picture came. When Peng saw the picture, he felt his jaw dropping to the ground. The child was his.
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On the fourth day of the Spring Festival, Peng arrived in Pizhou with Shenzhen police officials. They were told by the local police officials that the child was currently being adopted by the woman he now lives with.
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At the police station, Peng burst into tears the moment he saw his son. The police had to try to calm him down, telling him he was shocking the child. At this point, the child told the policeman, "That man crying is my dad, I remember him." All this while, his adopted mother was watching by the side, with tears in her eyes.
Overjoyed, Peng called his wife, screaming over the phone, "It's our child, it's our child!" Little Wenle then took over the phone, greeting his mom in their hometown's Hubei/Qianjiang dialect.
This is how I always thought it would work for finding families in China -- it would come from siblings. The older sister who remembers when her baby sister disappeared. The younger brother whose birth was permitted because his sister was abandoned. This is the generation that will leave the countryside, the small villages, the farms, and head for the bigcity. They will go to college and trade school, they'll learn about computers, they will learn English, they will have some disposable income. And they will wonder about those family stories of the disappeared. And they'll post on a family searchboardThere have been a slew of stories in Western media about adoptee/birth family reunions made possible by facebook (see here and here and here for examples); looks like it's a possibility in the developing world as well.
What do you think?
P.S. Brian Stuy of Research-China posts his take on whether the internet holds promise of birth parent searches in China. Here's a bit of it:
Adoptive families understandably hope for a simple method to locate birth families -- a DNA or other database that will allow them to put in their child's information, push a button, and out would come the birth family information. Certainly if such a service existed that was open and free to use, there would be little to lose by participating. But in reality, given the "complexities" surrounding most children adopted form China, such a program will result in failure in nearly every case. Technological barriers inside China, birth family participation rates, information accuracy, and many other reasons will prevent successful matches except in rare and very specific instances (kidnapping, Family Planning confiscations, etc.)Reaction?