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Abandoned Girl Found In Toy Department Baffles Netherlands

February 18, 1994

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) _ The saleswoman found the little 8-year-old girl standing alone in the toy section, healthy, well-dressed and with a note in her pocket: ″My name is An Liang.″

Two months later, that is still all authorities know about the nation’s most famous abandoned child.

Police have reached a dead-end trying to find out how the pretty Asian girl ended up in nearby Rotterdam’s Vroom and Dreesman department store the morning of December 13. Or why.

″Our detectives are working on the case everyday, but so far we’ve found nothing,″ Rotterdam police spokesman Anne Geelof said Wednesday.

″We’ve run her fingerprint through all our computers, we’ve checked all the population registries and school registries. She is simply not registered anywhere.″

The secret of An Liang’s identity is locked within the mind of a child that is moderately retarded and possibly autistic, according to psychologists here at the Sandhage Center for Observation and Treatment for Retarded Children.

An Liang appears to be Chinese and interpreters say the few clear words she speaks are from the Mandarin dialect spoken throughout most of China.

Her picture has featured in Dutch and Chinese newspapers, she’s been on national television, and a bulletin about her has been tacked onto Chinese language rental videos.

All that, plus recent immigration records, have drawn a blank.

″We think her parents might be illegal immigrants who thought our good social services might mean a better life for her,″ Geelof added.

Counselors at the Sandhage Center where she lives said An Liang did not know how to use a fork and refused to eat bread when she first arrived at the center two months ago.

″In the beginning she just used her hands to pick up food. She didn’t like to eat bread but she liked rice a lot,″ said Aafke Scharloo, who heads the Sandhage children’s section.

But this doesn’t automatically support the police’s hunch that An Liang is a recent immigrant.

″The Chinese community is very secluded here so it’s possible that she’s been here for a while, but her only contact has been with Chinese,″ Scharloo said.

Cheerful and agreeable, An Liang sometimes has fits of laughter and hyperactivity.

″She is very smart and she picks up things very quickly,″ said Caesta van Bak, a counselor at the center. ″She can now express what she wants by using simple hand gestures.″

Next month An Liang undergoes comprehensive psychological tests to more precisely determine her mental capacity.

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