This is the moment Li Jingzhi had dreamt about for decades.
Holding her son for the first time in 32 years, she was overwhelmed with relief.
Touching scenes have unfolded in China where Li and her biological son were reunited more than three decades after he was snatched as a toddler in 1988.
Mao Yin was just two when he was taken by strangers outside a hotel in Xi’an in central Shaanxi province after his father stopped at a hotel to get him some water.
The boy vanished without a trace but the family now understands he was sold to a childless couple for less than $900.
Li never gave up hope that she would find her boy again. She quit her job when he vanished and handed out 100,000 flyers.
She appeared on several TV networks – the grieving mother begging for the return of her baby boy.
She followed more than 300 false leads over the decades but in April police made a breakthrough.
Li told Chinese media that police received a tip-off about a man in Sichuan province who had bought a child from Shaanxi in the late 1980s.
Xi’an officials say the adopted boy was renamed Gu Ningning and grew up with no knowledge of his birth parents. He did not know he had been abducted and sold.
But when police tracked him down and a DNA test was carried out, Li received the news she had been waiting for.
At the reunion event, organised by Xi’an police, Mao emerged from a side door to a conference room and ran into his mother’s arms.
“I don’t want him to leave me anymore. I won’t let him leave me anymore,” Li said as she held onto her son’s hand.
Mao, who runs a home decoration business in Sichuan, told CCTV he would move to Xi’an to live with his birth parents.
There are no official statistics on the number of children who disappear every year in China, but a system was established in 2016 to send alerts about missing children through social media and mobile phone texts.
Police have helped more than 6300 abducted children to reunite with their families over the past decade through the DNA matching system, official news agency Xinhua reported.
Kidnapping and child trafficking became widespread in China from the 1980s, when the draconian one-child rule was enforced, with a cultural obsession with sons also fuelling demand for kidnapped babies.
– with AFP