Teenager at center of high-profile custody battle arrives in Taiwan (update)
Central News Agency
2014-01-03 11:36 PM
Taipei, Jan. 3 (CNA) An 18-year-old teenager at the center of a tug of war between Taiwan and Brazil during a messy custody battle a decade ago, arrived in Taiwan Friday for his first visit since leaving at the age of 8. Iruan Ergui Wu, also known in Taiwan by his Chinese name, Wu Yi-hua, arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 7:55 p.m. via Hong Kong, after departing from Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil Jan. 1. Accompanied by his adoptive mother Etha Borkert and adoptive brother Cassio Borkert, he was greeted by a large contingent of journalists and only found his uncle Wu Huo-yen with the assistance of aviation policemen. Wu Huo-yen, who travelled from southern Kaohsiung to Taipei in the afternoon, hugged his nephew tightly for several minutes as tears streamed down his face. "We really want to thank a lot of people for Yi-hua's return," Wu Huo-yen said after overcoming his emotions.

The Taiwan Catholic Mission Foundation invited Wu Yi-hua and his family to make the trip, and Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and several Taiwanese charity groups and private donors are helping to finance their travel and accommodation expenses.

Wu Huo-yen, his wife and eight other relatives dressed up at their home in Jiating, Kaohsiung, in the afternoon to prepare to greet Wu Yi-hua. The 10-member group lit firecracker before leaving home in a show of their happiness. Wu Yi-hua's cousin prepared three scarves for him, his adoptive mother and adoptive brother, extending warmth to them as they were coming from a hot Brazil to a cold Taiwan in the winter. Besides Wu Yi-hua's family, Jiating Primary School, where Wu Yi-hua once studied during his three years in Taiwan, is preparing to welcome the special alumnus on Jan. 10, including a reunion with former classmates and a football game with the community players. Wu Yi-hua and his family will conclude their Taiwan visit and return to Brazil on Jan. 19. Wu Yi-hua's father, Wu Teng-shu, was a fisherman from Jiading in southern Taiwan when he had his son in Brazil with a Brazilian woman. He set sail again shortly after she gave birth in May 1995. The child's grandmother, Rosa Leocadia DaSilva Ergui, was awarded custody three years later when his mother died of cancer. In 2001, Wu Yi-hua's father brought the young boy to Taiwan to visit his family there, but when the father died two weeks later of a heart attack, his brother, Wu Huo-yen, decided to keep the boy in Kaohsiung. DaSilva Ergui later came to Taiwan to bring the boy back to Brazil, setting off lengthy court proceedings that lasted more than two years before the Taiwan High Court ruled in her favor. When the boy was taken from his uncle's home on Feb. 10, 2004, clashes erupted as the then 8-year-old's relatives tried to stop police from entering their home. Then a pudgy but endearing child, Wu Yi-hua has now grown into a handsome, 173-centimeter-tall young man. He was adopted by a German couple in Brazil at the age of 13 because of his grandmother's poor health.

His adoptive mother recalled that Wu Yi-hua endured a period of adolescent rebellion.

It took several years and enormous loving care from his adoptive family to foster Wu Yi-hua into a modest, polite and diligent student, Borkert said, adding that she takes pride in Wu's present achievements.

Wu Yi-hua's grandmother died in the second half of 2013.

(By Chiu Chun-chin, Chen Chi-fon and Lilian Wu)

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