Chinese couple hope to be reunited with daughter snatched by officials 32 years ago
- Baby was taken from them in 1986 because they had broken the one-child policy
- DNA tests confirm that the girl given up for adoption was really their daughter
A couple from southwest China who had their daughter taken away from them 32 years ago have finally found her, state media has reported.
An official from Zigong in Sichuan province told news portal Thepaper.cn that DNA tests had confirmed that the girl was Zhou Yousheng and Zou Guifang’s daughter.
The report said that their third child, whom they named Hongxia, had been taken away from them when she was around two months old by an official from the family planning department, who told them they had breached the one-child policy.
Zhou told the news portal that in July 1986, three village officials had ordered them to visit a family planning office in Zigong’s Chengjia district.
When they arrived, officials said that their first child had been born out of wedlock, while their second and third children had violated the family planning policy so they should be fined 3,000 yuan.
The fine would be worth US$435 in today’s money, but Zhou said back then pork was worth only 1.4 yuan per kilogram and “there was no way we could scrape together 3,000 yuan”.
He said he wanted to take their daughter home and then find some ways of putting the fine together, but the request was denied.
He said when his wife was trying to sneak out with the baby, the family planning official snatched the child from his wife’s hands, and that was the last time they ever saw her.
Former Chengjia district administrator Gao Fayuan told the site that in the 1980s the local family planning office arranged for babies taken in these circumstances to be adopted by other families.
He admitted that there was no policy that authorised this behaviour, but such things happened at the time.
Zhou and Zou said they had never given up searching for their daughter and had spent years visiting neighbouring towns and cities whenever they heard about adopted children.
However, they never made any progress until the media reported on their plight last month and the Zigong family planning commission and local town government officials organised a team to search for the lost daughter.
Without explaining how they had done so, officials were able to track down the girl and conduct the DNA tests that confirmed her identity.
The report did not give details about the name Hongxia had been using since her adoption or the family the brought her up and her birth parents are now waiting to hear if she will agree to meet them.
Local officials are talking to both sides and said they hoped the daughter would agree to a reunion.
The couple’s plight highlights the human cost of the strict one-child policy that was introduced in the late 1970s.
Couples risked a fine, at the very least, for breaking the policy and tales of forced abortions and children being abandoned are commonplace.
The policy only began to be phased out two years ago, when it was relaxed to allow couples to have a second child, and there are suggestions it may be scrapped entirely.
It is not yet clear whether the family planning official who took Hongxia back then will be investigated – assuming he or she can be traced.
The Zigong government could not be reached for comment.