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Iruan travels to Taiwan from Brazil for emotional reunion

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwanese-Brazilian teenager Iruan Ergui Wu (吳憶樺) returned to Taiwan yesterday and was warmly greeted by relatives who had lost a custody battle to keep him 10 years ago.

Iruan embraced his paternal uncle Wu Ho-yen upon seeing him at the arrival hall of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. Both were speechless and emotional, holding back their tears.

“Thank you ... I'm happy to be back in Taiwan,” the teenager, 18, said in halting Mandarin in response to requests for a comment from the press. He relied on an interpreter to understand reporters' questions.

Other relatives and family friends present were also moved by the emotionally charged reunion.

It is the first time he has returned to Taiwan since his maternal grandmother took him back to Brazil after winning custody in 2004.

He is expected to pay tribute at his father's tomb sometime during his two-week stay.

He departed Brazil for Taiwan on Wednesday, arriving in Taoyuan at about 7:55 p.m. after a stopover in Hong Kong.

The Central News Agency said many travelers recognized him as they went through customs. “Time flies. Wu Yi-hua has grown and become a handsome young man,” CNA cited some travelers as commenting, using Iruan's Chinese name.

Iruan was born in Brazil to a Brazilian mother who died when he was 3. His maternal grandmother was awarded custody of the child in Brazil.

 In 2001, his Taiwanese father took him back to Taiwan for a short trip. But the father died of a heart attack two weeks into the visit, setting off a lengthy custody battle after the uncle attempted to keep him in Taiwan.

His maternal grandmother, who was awarded custody rights by a Taiwan court in 2004, died last year.

Iruan was adopted by a German couple in Brazil at the age of 13 because of his grandmother's poor health.

His adoptive mother Etna Borkert and adoptive brother Cassio Borket accompanied him to Taiwan.

He was invited to visit Taiwan by the Taiwan Catholic Mission Foundation, and the trip was sponsored by Taiwan's Foreign Ministry and some private donors.

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In this file photo, Iruan Wu cries while being taken from his uncle's home by police who were enforcing a court decision that granted custody of the boy to his Brazilian maternal grandmother. (CNA)

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