Sun Bin was able to hug his father and sister for the first time in 24 years on Tuesday, after being torn away from his family by child traffickers in 1991.
After the 28-year-old Chinese man was abducted at a vegetable market in Sichuan province, he was sold to a family that lived on the country's east coast thousands of miles away, CNN reported, citing Chinese state media. Sun was put to work as an electrician as a teenager -- a fact his father, Sun Youhong, was disappointed to learn: "I would have kept my son in school at the age of 15."
Selling children for forced labor or sex for profit is a major business in China, the news outlet reported. The same day that Sun was reunited with his father and the sister he never knew he had, China Central Television reported that a massive police operation rescued 37 babies and a 3-year-old girl in Shandong province from child traffickers.
The crime is a global problem that appears to be growing: The United Nations' 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons found that the proportion of trafficked children among all victims is increasing, The New York Times reported. In the U.N.'s 2012 report, one in four trafficking victims were children -- now, it's closer to one in three.
That figure climbs to two out of three in certain regions, like Africa and the Middle East.
After Sun went missing, his father said he and his wife were determined to find their abducted child, posting search notices around the area, and traveling to other cities and neighboring provinces seeking answers. In 2011, Sun's mother died of cancer, "constantly murmuring our son's name" just days before her death.
"To find our son had been my wife's biggest wish in life," Sun's father told Xinhua, CNN reported.
According to Yahoo News, Sun does not want the family he grew up with to be punished for purchasing him illegally as a child, admitting that he "grew to love them for their kindness as years went by." He said he will stay in touch and take care of both of his families.