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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 November 2004, 14:45 GMT
Life as one of China's stolen babies
Chinese child
Girls are sometimes sold as servants, or brides
Dozens of Chinese babies are believed to be taken from or sold by their families each year, as part of a grim human trade. BBC World Service's Outlook programme spoke to 21-year-old Huang Xiuxiu, who was stolen from her family when she was just three.

A lady came and asked me to go and play at her house, and she led me away.

I was three years old at the time, and this is my only memory of being abducted. She bought me a twisted dough stick. Then she took me to the train station and handed me over to a man who seemed to be her husband.

As the train pulled away, I just wanted to go home to my mother.

As a child, I wasn't very happy. My new family didn't know much about my background
Huang Xiuxiu
I lived with them for a few months, and was then given to another family, living in a rural village in Fujian province.

My new family treated me very well, like a daughter - they became like parents to me.

But in my heart, I knew I had been abducted and sold to them; in my heart, I always knew I had another set of parents, and I really missed them.

I didn't exactly understand what abduction meant. I just knew I had been taken away from my real family. I felt horrible, as if I was a commodity, bought and sold.

As a child, I wasn't very happy. My new family didn't know much about my background - all they knew was I was from Hunan province.

In 2002, after I moved to the city of Chengdu, I began to search for my real parents.

I always had it in my mind to do this.

I read a newspaper which had a report about a girl who had a very similar experience to me. I thought, perhaps the paper could help me to find my real parents.

I called one of their journalists and asked him if he could help me. I think I really shocked him. He asked me to come to his office, and I told him my story. Then he asked me to go home and wait.

The next day, his first article was published. I didn't think it would have huge impact, because it was published in Sichuan and my parents were from Hunan.

Then the long wait began. For a year, there was a repeated cycle of hope and disappointment.

However, in 2003, the head of Hunan's Public Security Bureau, together with officials working in Hunan and Fujian provinces, began working to find my mother.

There was a couple who we all thought were my parents - we had seen pictures of them, and I looked so similar to the lady.

We went to see them, and they looked so happy - although I still hadn't had any DNA tests.

Eventually, through the tests, we discovered that we were not related. I was very disappointed. We don't have the same blood, but I still call her mum, because at least it is a kind of comfort for her - she still has not found her daughter.

My parents seemed just like strangers
Huang Xiuxiu
Sometimes we still call each other. But at this stage, everyone thought it was very unlikely I would find my own biological parents.

It was a long and tedious process, but eventually, through the security people's help, we were able to trace them.

When I found my parents, I was quite surprised - there are some things that are never as beautiful as you originally thought.

For me, my parents seemed just like strangers.

It just felt strange.

I recently called to find out about my adopted parents. I was told they are now in prison.

I think if you do something wrong, then that person has to pay the penalty for what they did - although I feel sad about their prison sentence, because it must be really difficult for their own children.

But I think they brought it on themselves.



SEE ALSO:
China holds 110 'baby smugglers'
07 Oct 04 |  Asia-Pacific
US homes for China's abandoned babies
07 Oct 04 |  From Our Own Correspondent
China executes baby smuggler
24 Sep 04 |  Asia-Pacific



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