A couple in Central China's Hubei province kept living in their old building for 22 years and did not change their phone number in the hope of reuniting with their son who went missing more than two decades ago.
On May 2, they received the news they had long been waiting for. On that day, police informed the couple, Li Mingchao and Chen Zhen, in Shiyan that a man's DNA in North China's Hebei province matched with theirs, and their long-lost son Pengpeng had been found.
Pengpeng, born in 1992, went missing on Dec 15, 1996, when his father's colleague surnamed Yang said he would take him to play outside.
"I was working when my colleague Yang handed me a cigarette, and said he wanted to take my son to play outside. I didn't think too much and agreed. Although, I did not know him well," Li Mingchao said as he recalled the scene with regret.
Pengpeng didn't return home that night. And when the couple went to Yang's home, Yang had already run away. Later it was confirmed by the police that the boy had been abducted by Yang. From that moment on, the couple started the journey of finding their son.
"We went to Yang's hometown and asked around countless times, but ended up with nothing," the mother said. In order to find their son, they went to many places in North China, but returned empty handed.
Pengpeng had a brother, three years younger than him. But in Nov 2014, he died in a motorcycle accident. The unfortunate experience made the couple's desire for finding Pengpeng even stronger.
After 22 years, the couple still lives in the low-ceilinged and damp brick house. "We thought what if my son came back for us?" Li Mingchao said. "I haven't changed my phone number for over a decade, because I was afraid of missing anything about him."
In 2010, Yang finally got arrested after 14 years of run. According to Yang, he sold Pengpeng to Kong, a local resident of Handan, Hebei province, for 6,600 yuan ($1,037).
The police traced the information about Kong in early April. But unfortunately, Kong had died a long time ago. Police asked experts to draw a portrait of the son so that they could check their database.
To everyone's surprise, the 26-year-old Liu in Hebei province was confirmed to be related by blood with the couple in a DNA test. His appearance was about 80 per cent similar to the portrait drawn by experts.
The police called Chen Zhen on May 2 to tell her to pick up their long-lost son the next day. "I was awake the whole night. I kept thinking about meeting my son, and I have thousands of questions to ask him," the mother said excitedly.
At 10 am on May 3, after 8,000 days and nights, the couple finally met their son. "You have no idea how much we've missed you!" they said through tears. After two decades of separation, the family finally got reunited.
Knowing that Pengpeng had already set up his own family, Chen Zhen was quite excited for she is a grandparent now. "I hope my son would come back home and live with us. But I won't force them, I just hope he can visit us more," she said.
Pengpeng said he would treat and support Li Mingchao and Chen Zhen like the way he did to his foster parents.