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June 23, 2017

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Police help Taiwanese-Australian find biological mother in Taipei

TAIPEI -- Police authorities said yesterday that they have helped an Australian woman of Taiwanese descent to find her long-lost biological mother in Taipei.

The National Police Agency (NPA) took it upon itself to help Jade Heffernan look for her mother after learning from a local media report in September that she yearned to get in touch with her.

"After a painstaking investigation, we managed to find Heffernan's mother," said Chang Kuo-cheng, a senior staffer at the NPA's Household Registration Division.

Heffernan decided to search for her birth mother after seeing 14-year-old interview footage on YouTube, according to an Apple Daily report.

The 32-year-old Australian was quoted as saying she believed the woman in the YouTube clip of a 1998 interview of a Taiwanese woman by the Australian TV program "60 Minutes" was her mother.

The 49-second clip features a Taiwanese woman praying in an unidentified temple and telling the interviewer that she learned from newspaper reports that the baby she had given up for adoption had been taken to Australia. In the footage, the woman shows the only photo she has of her baby and says she wants to meet her daughter.

Heffernan said she recognized herself in the photo and that she has her own copy of it.

After watching the clip, Heffernan began to search for her mother, and her plea was relayed through Facebook back to Taiwan, leading to several netizen reports to the Apple Daily.

The daily said Hefferman was only 3 weeks old when her Australian adoptive parents came to Taiwan and took her back to their home in Adelaide. Her birth certificate said she was born May 2, 1980 at Taipei's An Hao maternity clinic.

While Heffernan's adoptive parents, now in their 60s, love her as their own, she was quoted as saying, she had always yearned to find her birth mother. She also called for people in Taiwan to help with her search.

"I want to tell her in person that I'm fine and that I'm happy," Heffernan was quoted as telling the paper.

NPA Director-General Wang Cho-chun then instructed Chang to assist in the search.

"We had a difficult time at first due to a dearth of relevant information or clues," recalled Chang, who has helped with many missing person searches.

As Heffernan's birth mother mentioned in the interview that she suspected that her daughter was actually sold to the Australian couple, Chang asked the Criminal Investigation Bureau to provide any information and data about baby-trading gangs busted between 1980 and 1998.

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