Abducted Chinese Tot Reunited With Family After 24 Years: Stoic Father Says ‘You’re A Man Now, Don’t Cry’

After 24 years, an abducted boy in Hong Kong has been reunited with his family after he was taken from a vegetable stand at age four.

In 1991, 4-year-old Sun Bin was taken by child traffickers from his hometown in the Sichuan province and sold to a family thousands of miles away, in the Jiangsu province, Chinese state media reported.

Child trafficking continues to be a profitable and frightening business in China, as traffickers seek to financially gain off of a growing demand for healthy babies from potential adoptive parents in China and elsewhere, who are particularly interested in male infants. The culture hold sons as a higher sign of prosperity and value than they do daughters, so boys are more frequently trafficked, not for purposes of sex slavery as is common in many areas of the world, but to continue on family names. Even today, this continues to be a serious problem. Earlier this week, Chinese police said they had rescued 37 newborn babies after busting a trafficking ring that sold the babies for up $13,000 (USD) each.

Sun Bin was just a toddler when he disappeared at a vegetable market in 1991. Sun Youhong said that he and his wife had dropped everything to search for him, but to no avail. There were never even any promising leads, though due to the high incidence of trafficked babies, the family assumes that is what had happened, and that he had been adopted by a family somewhere. He said they posted search notices around the area, and Sun Bin’s mother traveled to other cities in Sichuan and neighboring provinces.

On Tuesday, Sun was finally acquainted with his 60-year-old father, Sun Youhong, and a younger sister he had never met, because she had been born after his abduction. The moment was captured in through photographs and tears. Sadly, Sun’s mother died of cancer several years ago, and never learned the fate of her son. Sun’s father was overjoyed to his little boy, now a man, but angry at the years that were lost and the pain his wife had endured. Although she was diagnosed with cancer in 1996, she did not die until 2011.

“I was happy. I was grateful. But I was also bitter. To find our son had been my wife’s biggest wish in life. And days before she passed away she was constantly murmuring our son’s name.”

Sun Bin told Chinese journalists he had always thought he was adopted but he didn’t know where his original home was, didn’t know how to go about finding out, and he never asked his adoptive parents how he winded up with them. He was taken out of school when he was fifteen by them to work, which is something his biological father said he would have never chosen for his son.

Sun Bin finally decided he must take action to find out if he was indeed adopted and if he could find his biological family. He left a DNA sample with a local police station in Jiangsu in October 2014, and recently received a phone call saying that a match had been found.

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In a phone call with CNN, Sun Bin’s father angrily accused the adoptive family of breaking the law, because they accepted a kidnapped child. But he said he would not press charges if they allowed his newly found son to remain with him without disturbance.

The reunion took place on Tuesday at a police station in Chengdu. When a police officer introduced Sun Bin to his father, the 28-year-old Sun Bin dropped to his knees and wept in his father’s embrace. As is true to traditional elder Chinese tradition, his father was controlled and stoic.

“You’re a man. Don’t cry.”

Sun Bin is currently unsure where he will go — back to the coastal town he has always known as home, or stay in the community of his origins, a place he does not remember but longed to find. Although he has not made a decision, tonight he sleeps in his biological father’s bed.