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Boy from custody battle departs Brazil for Taiwan

SAO PAULO -- A boy at the center of a high-profile tug of war between Taiwan and Brazil during a messy child custody battle a decade ago departed Sao Paulo late Wednesday for a two-week visit to Taiwan.

It's the first time that Iruan Ergui Wu, now 18, has returned to Taiwan since a Taiwan court granted custody to his maternal grandmother in Brazil in 2004 following the death of his Brazilian mother and Taiwanese father.

Wu, also known by his Chinese name Wu Yi-hua, is scheduled to arrive at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Friday evening (Taiwan time) in the company of his adoptive mother Etna Borkert and adoptive older brother Cassio Borkert.

The trio took a flight from their home in Rio Grande do Sul Wednesday morning to Sao Paulo, where they first attended a send-off dinner organized by a Catholic mission foundation.

Many Taiwanese businessmen and expatriate community members showered Wu with gifts and wished him and his family a happy and safe journey.

The trip will reunite Wu with his paternal relatives, who took care of him for about three years after his father died and who tried to keep him in Taiwan.

Wu said he has high expectations for his Taiwan visit and that he does not rule out the possibility of taking up residence, study and work in Taiwan in the future.

The Taiwan Catholic Mission Foundation invited Wu 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 is scheduled to make a brief visit to his uncle's home in Kaohsiung's Jiading District in Southern Taiwan Jan. 5.

He is also set to visit several Taiwanese schools as an “education ambassador” for the Taiwan Catholic Mission Foundation.

On Jan. 10, Wu will visit his uncle's home again for a family reunion.

Wu and his family will conclude their Taiwan visit and return to Brazil Jan. 19.

Wu's father, Wu Teng-shu, was a fisherman from Jiading in southern Taiwan. He had his son in Brazil with a Brazilian woman but 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 Teng-shu 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 Feb. 10, 2004, clashes erupted as the 8-year-old's relatives tried to stop police from entering their home.

Then a pudgy but endearing child, Wu 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 endured a period of adolescent rebellion.

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

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

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Wu Yi-hua, center, poses for a photograph with his adoptive mother and adoptive older brother in Brazil. Wu, now 18, was at the center of a high-profile tug of war between Taiwan and Brazil during a child custody battle a decade ago. (CNA)

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