A website with photos of missing persons helped reunite a family with their son who went missing 21 years ago in southern Turkey yesterday.
Atiye and İbrahim Selam lost their then two-and-a-half year old son Gürsel, while he was accompanying his mother shopping in 1997 in the southern city of Hatay. A police search failed to locate the boy, and it was only on July 15 that a mysterious text message revived their hopes. "Is that me? Are you my father?" the message, accompanied with the photo of young Gürsel shocked his biological father İbrahim.
The photo in question was published on the website of the Association of Families Who Lost Their Next of Kin (YAKAD) and placed next to the presumed current photo of the 23-year-old man devised using technology to "age" missing people. The family who traveled all across Turkey to find their son and hung posters everywhere to locate Gürsel then contacted the young man who was apparently living in another district of Hatay. Gürsel told them he learned only recently that he was "adopted" by a family after his unidentified kidnappers sold him to them in 1997 and found out about his biological parents when his friends alerted him to the online photo resembling him.
"I wasn't myself when he contacted me. It is something you cannot explain. After all the suffering you felt, you don't know what to do. I couldn't sleep for two days. I thought it was a dream," his father told Anadolu Agency (AA). Gürsel's mother Atiye said they never gave up searching for their son and she thanked God for being reunited with her son. "I could only tell him not to leave home when we first spoke. I don't want to lose him again. I learned he lived only about a 20-minute drive from my home. Finding him is bliss. I forgot all the sorrows I had in a moment," she said.
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