When Li Risheng was 7, he endured one of the most horrible betrayals a child can experience: being sold by his own mother. "It was a rainy day, two of my mum's friends came to our home," Li, now 20, tells Guangzhou Daily, via the South China Morning Post, of the day he was taken away. "They wanted to take me out after a meal, but my father refused. They then sneaked me out." Li was sold to a family that eventually moved to Yunfu in Guangdong province. He tried to escape several times, but he was always returned to his new home, and because of his age, he couldn't recall (or never knew) where his real hometown was. When Li was in fifth grade, however, he became a migrant worker and started traveling for work—and a chance stop years later at a roadside eatery began to unravel his mystery.
Per the London Times, Li was working in Yunnan province in early 2016 when he stopped at a small restaurant. His meal—fried oysters covered in rice paste—brought childhood memories bubbling up, and the restaurant owner told him it was a specialty dish from a district in the Guangdong town of Maoming. A missing-children organization he'd worked with arranged for him to give a DNA sample; that sample was sent to Maoming police, who tracked down a man named Li Shengxiong whose son had been taken years ago. His DNA was also retrieved, and it was a match. Father and son were reunited in early January, where they "were pictured crying uncontrollably in each other's arms," per Yahoo7 News. Li is now being called Ye Fengqiang. There's no word on whether Li's mom is still in the picture, though she could face criminal charges. (A mom reunited in June with her abducted son after 21 years.)