‘I get to be a big brother’: Veteran, 70, adopted as a child from Japan discovers his 7 siblings in Ohio

  • Seventy-year-old Michael Bennett, who was adopted as a child, met seven of his siblings for the first time after undergoing a DNA test in 2019.
  • Bennett was born in Japan in 1951 to a Japanese woman and an American soldier who served in the country after World War II.
  • Bennett’s adoptive parents raised him with knowledge of his biological parents, and he understood why he had to be given up.
  • The Green Beret said the discovery “opened up a whole new world for me” and that he now “gets to be a big brother.”

A Japanese American veteran had the reunion of his life when he met seven of his siblings for the first time after undergoing a DNA test to find out more about himself.

Michael Bennett, 70, was born in Japan in 1951 to a Japanese mother, Yoshiko Nakajima, and an American father, Dick Webster, who served in the country after World War II.

Despite his attempts to stay in Japan, Webster was eventually forced to transfer back to the United States, leaving Nakajima alone with their son. Now a single mother with a mixed-race baby, she ultimately decided to give up their child for adoption.

Bennett arrived in the U.S. with his new American family in 1953. He grew up with knowledge of his biological parents and why his mother opted to have him adopted.

“That she was a single mom and wanted the best for me,” Bennett told WFAA of what he knew. “And thought that the best for me would be to be raised in America.”

Bennett, who now lives in Fort Worth, Texas, would grow up to become a serviceman himself. He joined the U.S. Army, became a Green Beret and later started his own family.

While he felt blessed and happy with his life, Bennett wanted to know more about himself. At 68, he turned to 23andMe for DNA testing.

The results did not surprise him as they revealed what he already knew: that he was half Japanese, half Anglo European. But he soon received a message from someone in Cincinnati who knew his mother’s name.

The next messages became moments of discovery. Bennett soon found himself talking to at least three more people — all children of his father.

Bennett learned that Webster was “a broken-hearted man” over losing Bennett and his mother in Japan. The late serviceman eventually moved on and raised a new family in Ohio.

“He [Webster] was heartbroken,” Bennett told Today. “From what I understand, it broke him.”

Bennett eventually made a 14-hour drive to Cincinnati. He met seven new siblings, all eager to see him.

The new family have since strengthened their bond, chatting regularly and celebrating holidays together.

“My bond with Michael happened the moment that our eyes met,” Robin Reid, one of Bennett’s newfound sisters, told Today. “It might sound crazy, but if you’ve ever lost a loved one, you know the feeling of wanting to be able to look into their eyes again. I felt like I got to see my dad again. He has his eyes. It was the most comforting feeling in the world.”

Bennett told WFAA that he can be set in his ways. “But it’s opened up a whole new world for me…of family,” he said.

“I’ll tell you the one thing it has changed for me, from that family perspective, oddly enough is, I get to be a big brother. And I cherish that. I’m having a great time.”

 

Featured Image via WFAA

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