Michael Bennett purchased a 23andMe DNA test kit in 2018 to learn more about his family’s medical history. He was pleasantly surprised to discover that he had a whole new family waiting for him.
Michael, 70, was born in occupied Japan after World War II. Yoshiko Nakajima, a Japanese woman, is his biological mother, and Dick Webster, a serviceman from the United States, is his biological father.
When he was three years old, in 1953, Michael was adopted by a couple in the United States. He did not know who his biological parents were.
“My childhood was wonderful. I adored my parents,” he told TODAY.
Michael joined the Army, became a Green Beret, and built a family in the United States.
Michael, who lives in Fort Worth, Texas, received a message on 23andMe from Damien, a young man from Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2019.
A family member told me, ‘Hey, we share a lot of DNA and I don’t know who you are.’ My entire family is familiar to me. “I don’t know who you are,” he told KENS 5.
Michael told his story and mentioned that he had Japanese relatives. More inquiries followed.
“Is Yoshiko Nakajima your mother’s name?” “Did you grow up in Japan during the 1950s?” Next, Damien inquired.
Michael had his ‘aha’ moment when he saw his mother’s name on the screen.
Damien said, “Hey, we know who your father is.” “Plus, you have a large family that all wants to speak with you.”
A few hours later, Michael spoke with Damien’s aunt, Robin Reid. The call opened up a whole new world for him.
In Ohio, Michael, an only child, discovered he had seven half-siblings, including Robin. She even had a picture of him as a child.
Robin remarked that the picture of the young boy had stayed with him all these years. My brother’s head full of black hair and those gorgeous dark eyes have stuck with me all these years. I’ve wondered where he is.”
Robin’s late father, Dick Webster, did all he could to keep Michael and his mother in Japan. Reenlisting in the Air Force for another three-year tour, he was able to be with them. He was returned to the United States, however.
Dick had little power to stop the transfer as a low-ranking airman. After learning that his son had been adopted, he never saw him again.
Robin explained, “He was heartbroken.”. “He was heartbroken about losing his family in Japan.”.
Alma Jean, with whom he had been married for decades, would lead him back to love. But he never forgot the family he left behind in Japan. In the 1980s, he sent two of his children on a mission to find them.
Mother and son had left, but the brothers had gathered information for their father. Yoshiko had placed Michael for adoption in order to protect him, according to the locals. He was her only child.
Yoshiko passed away in 2017.
Michael’s mother realized it would be difficult for me as a mixed-race child with a single mother in post-World War II Japan, he said. “She did it out of love, without a doubt.”
Just days after his life-changing call with Robin, Michael and his wife, Mari, drove 14 hours to Cincinnati to meet their long-lost family.
On the front lawn, Michael’s siblings greeted him with hugs as soon as they arrived.
Of the memorable occasion, he said, “I’m not sure if they’re all huggers, but they were that day.” “I wasn’t, but I was.” So, what gives?”
“If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you know how much you want to look into their eyes again,” Robin said about meeting Michael. The feeling was like reuniting with my father. He sees with his eyes. It was a very soothing experience.”
Since then, Michael has kept in touch with his family and celebrated holidays with them.
Michael explained that the one thing that has changed for him is that he is now a big brother. “I really enjoy being a big brother.” he said.
In June, the siblings will meet again in Fort Worth. It will likely be another hug-filled reunion.
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