Man Kidnapped as Child 33 Years Ago Finds Mother With Map of His Village Drawn From Memory

A 37-year-old man from Henan Province, in Eastern China, recently found his biological mother 33-years after being abducted, thanks to a map of his home village that he drew from memory.

Li Jingwei was only four years old when he was abducted outside his family home in Yunan and sold to another family thousands of kilometers away. It was a neighbor who lured him with a toy and then drove him 2,000 kilometers to Henan Province, where he sold him to a family that raised him as his own. It’s unclear if he ever tried to run away, but what is known is that he spent many nights remembering what his parents and his home looked like, which ended up helping him reunite with his mother 33 years after his abduction. Li used his childhood memories to draw a crude yet detailed map of his home village and then turned to social media for help, asking people where they thought it could be.

Photo: Christian Lue/Unsplash

“Recalling the appearance of my parents and what it was like around my home was a routine for me for a long period in my life,” Li Jingwei told reporters, adding that he could never remember the name of his village.

Li said that it took time to get used to his new family and that it hurt whenever he read articles about family gatherings, but as he grew up, he started focusing on things like school, then work and getting married, and starting his own family. But he never forgot about his real parents.

Inspired by other high-profile cases of people who were reunited with their families decades after being abducted, Li Jingwei decided it was time to focus more on his own efforts to find his parents. He realized his own parents were getting older and that he probably didn’t have that much time left to reconnect with them.

“When I saw the story of Guo Gangtang, I thought to myself, ‘I should try to find my biological parents’ … I wanted to see them when they are still alive,” Li told Henan Television. “I realized I could not wait any longer because my parents should be getting older now. I worried that when I figured out where I am from, they might have passed away.”

But how does one find the family he lost over three decades before? Well, in Li Jingwei’s case, he started by providing a blood sample to the police and then digging deep into his memory clues about the village he was born in. He ended up drawing crude maps by hand, which he then posted online, asking people if they recognized the layout and where this place might be located.

Li’s maps went viral, as people learned his story and expressed their amazement at how detailed his drawings were. They included the design of the houses as he remembered them, and even big wooden buckets in which people cooked rice. As information came in from netizens, police were able to narrow down the search to a mountainous village in Yunnan Province called Zhaotong.


Local authorities provided information about a local woman who had lost her son around the same time that Li Jingwei was captured, and a DNA test proved that she was indeed his mother. They were scheduled to meet in person on January 1st, but unfortunately, Li was unable to see his real father again, as he passed away some years ago.

Li Jingwei did not tell Chinese media what he hoped would happen to the family who raised him, but, as of late, abducted children have been reluctant to prosecute the parents who raised them, because they had a good relationship with them.