Chinese-American woman reunites with birth family after going missing 13 years ago

Kylee Bowers was just five when she strayed onto unfamiliar streets in southern China. DNA and the internet helped her find her way back

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 10:17am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 2:59pm

A young Chinese-American woman has been reunited with her birth family after more than a decade thanks to DNA and internet technology.

Kylee Bowers, or Liang Jinglang as she was known until she went missing at age five, was welcomed by her parents and three siblings in a tearful reunion at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport on Sunday, Nanfang Daily reported on Monday.

“I am so happy to finally be able to see my birth parents and my brother and sisters face to face today,” Bowers was quoted as saying. “I feel so lucky to be able to find them. Everybody has been so nice to me.”

Bowers became separated from her family in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, in 2005 when she tried to find her way home from her uncle’s house. The family lived in Foshan and had left the child temporarily in the uncle’s care, the report said.

Bowers said an elderly woman found her standing alone on a bridge and took her to the police but she could not understand the officers because she only spoke the dialect of her family’s hometown of Leizhou, also in Guangdong province.

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She was then sent to the Zhongshan Children’s Welfare Institute where she was given the name Zhong Fengmin. She stayed in the institute for two years, and in a foster home for three years before being adopted by an American couple at age 12, the report said.

She said she had vague memories of her home but knew that her family was poor and she was their second child.

Her adoptive parents encouraged her to keep in contact with the institute after she told them she was certain she had been lost and not abandoned, the report said.

In the meantime, Liang Hua and his wife, Wu Qinmei, had kept up a desperate search for their child and had a seat set aside for her in the room at home where the children did their homework.

The uncle continued to live in the same home in the hope that the girl would return.

Those hopes were realised after Bowers contacted a website called Baobeihuijia.com, which tries to reunite parents with their missing children. Chinese media picked up on the case and one of those reports was read by Liang, who contacted Bowers through social media in May.

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Liang asked Bowers several questions, including whether she had a small mark on her nose and whether she remembered dislocating her shoulder falling from a theatre stage, the report said.

Bowers said she wept and responded: “You are my father!”

Liang asked the police for help and officers soon confirmed that Liang and Wu’s DNA were a match with the sample Bowers left in a Chinese database before her adoption.

It was the first case of an international match through the database, the report said.

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After being reunited at the airport, Bowers and her relatives travelled two hours by bus to Foshan where the family home was festooned in banners and balloons.

They plan to visit Bowers’ grandparents in Leizhou before Bowers returns to the United States to start university.

Bowers said she hoped to return to China to study and get to know her biological family, Zhongshan Daily reported.