Life
Man adopted from Japan takes DNA test kit and discovers he has an entire family in the U.S.
He was only looking to find his family's health history but found out SO much more than that.
Eduardo Gaskell
05.23.22

70-year-old Michael Bennett purchased a 23andMe DNA test kit in 2018 only to discover a whole family waiting for him.

He was born in post-World War II occupied Japan. Michael’s biological mother is a Japanese woman named Yoshiko Nakajima. His father is Dick Webster, an American serviceman.

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In 1953, 3-year-old Michael was adopted by an American couple. And that’s all he knew about his family. He did have a happy childhood he says.

Michael joined the Army, becoming a Green Beret, before starting his own family.

Michael lives in Fort Worth, Texas. In 2019, he received a message on the 23andMe app from a Cincinnati-based man called Damien.

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“It was someone who said ‘hey, we have a lot of DNA in common and I don’t know who you are. I know all my family. I don’t know who you are.’” he told KENS 5.

Michael responded by telling his own life story.

“Is your mother’s name Yoshiko Nakajima? Were you born in Japan in the 1950s?” Damien pressed.

That’s when Michael realized there was more to the conversation.

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“Hey, we know who your father is,” Damien responded. “And you have a huge family and they all want to talk to you.”

Michael was on the phone a few hours later with Damien’s aunt, Robin Reid.

Michael finally found out that he had seven half-siblings in Ohio, including Robin. She had a picture of him as a child.

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“That picture of that little boy stayed with me all these years,” Robin said of the photos that their dad kept. “That head full of black hair and those beautiful dark eyes stayed with me all these years and I wanted to know where my brother was.”

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Robin told him that their late father, Dick Webster, tried his best to stay in Japan with Michael and his mother. Webster re-enlisted for another three-year stint but the Air Force sent him back to the U.S.

Dick, a low-ranking airman, had no choice. He never saw Michael again after his son was adopted.

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And Dick was heartbroken according to Robin.

Dick remarried a woman named Alma Jean. But he couldn’t stop thinking about the family he left in Japan. In the 80’s, he even sent two of his sons to locate them.

His wife was gone and Michael was adopted, but his sons did get information talking to the locals. Yoshiko had put Michael up for adoption to protect him as he was her only son.

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Yoshiko died in 2017.

“She knew it was going to be hard for me as a mixed-race child in post-World War II Japan with a single mom,” Michael said. “There’s no question she did what she did out of love.”

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Michael and his wife, Mari, then made their way to Cincinnati to meet the family. Michael’s siblings were all waiting for him and there were so many hugs that day.

Robin says meeting Michael felt like seeing her dad again. They now celebrate holidays together. And Michael now gets to be a big brother.

Watch the video below for more on this amazing story.

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By Eduardo Gaskell
hi@sbly.com
Eduardo Gaskell is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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