Luo Gang, who was born in a small town in Guangan city, southwestern Sichuan province, disappeared on his way to kindergarten 23 years ago, said his parents. Heartbroken, they did everything they could to find their son, but to no avail. They eventually gave up and later adopted a daughter.
What they didn't know was that their son had been taken to a city in southeastern Fujian province, some 1500 kilometres from Sichuan.
Although Luo’s adopted parents loved him and treated him like their own son, he said the desire to find his birth parents had always haunted him.
“Everyday before I went to bed, I forced myself to re-live the life spent in my old home,” he said. “So I wouldn’t forget.”
But the only memory Luo had of his hometown was of two bridges.
He drew a rough map of his hometown from memory, before posting it on “Bring Lost Babies Home”, a Chinese website devoted to locating missing children through the help of volunteers.
Soon afterwards, a volunteer wrote back with valuable information - a couple from a small town in Sichuan’s Guangan city had lost a son 23 years ago. The time matched Luo’s abduction perfectly.
Luo searched for pictures of the Sichuan town and found they looked familiar to him. To confirm his suspicions, he turned to the satellite version Google Maps. The minute he zoomed in on an area called “Yaojiaba” near the Sichuan town, Luo recognised the two bridges.
“That’s it! That’s my home,” shouted Luo, in tears.
Luo was pictured in a tearful reunion with his birth parents and grandparents in Sichuan.
“In the past years, I couldn’t help crying each time I thought about my son, who could be starving without enough clothes on him,” said his mother.
It is unclear whether any criminal charges will be brought against Luo's adoptive family.
A spokesperson at Google’s Hong Kong office told the South China Morning Post on Friday that they would not comment on the case.