A mother has been left heartbroken after discovering her son whom she thought died 17 years ago was alive.
Zhang Caihong shared her heartbreak after she discovered that her cousin’s sister-in-law stole her son after she gave birth to him 17 years ago.
She fled to her cousin's home when she was pregnant following fears that her ex and his relatives would hurt her.
But shortly after welcoming the newborn, the sister-in-law allegedly broke the devastating news that he was severely disabled.
Zhang, from Jiangsu province in China, said she trusted her and was persuaded to give up the precious child.
She said she was then hit with another blow when her cousin lied and said he had frozen to death.
However, after nearly two long decades of mourning, Zhang says she recently discovered that her son is alive.
The mum managed to track him down after reportedly receiving confirmation that the boy was her child through a DNA test.
The now-teenager is currently studying in secondary school, reports South China Morning Post.
Zhang says she found out that the boy's "adoptive" mother was the younger sister of her cousin's wife.
She is now taking part in a legal battle because the boy's "adoptive" parents are demanding that she hands over the money that they spent raising him .
But she is refusing to pay out because they adopted him illegally.
The mum hopes that the couple will be punished for causing her dismay.
Her story has since gone viral on social media which has led to people sending messages in support.
One said: "Oh my god, what a poor soul Zhang is. Her cousin’s family is just too terrible."