World

How Air Force officer was reunited with his birth mother — and the surprising way she honored him


Bruce Hollywood with his mother, Nobue Ouchi. MUST CREDIT: Courtesy of Bruce Hollywood.

By Kathryn Tolbert | Washington Post

It began with a heart attack in the Pentagon parking lot in pre-dawn darkness. Air Force Col. Bruce Hollywood was on his way to work and found himself on the ground, thinking: “This is where it ends.”

Later, as he lay in the ambulance racing to Walter Reed Army Hospital, two regrets popped into his head. One was that he wouldn’t be able to help his son with his college applications. The other was that he never thanked the Japanese woman who gave birth to him, then gave him up for adoption in 1960.

Hollywood was adopted by an American couple who were stationed in Japan with the U.S. military and who could offer him a good life in America.

It took that heart attack in 2005 for Hollywood to set out to find his birth mother, something his adoptive mother, who had passed away, had repeatedly encouraged him to do. Before that, he said, he never felt something was missing. His adoption was not something he had reflected on much.

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“I always knew I was adopted because I had Asian features and [my father] was an Irishman and [my mother] was a Norwegian lady,” said Hollywood, 57. “And they always told me, ‘We picked you out special. So you’re even more special than everyone else.’ ”

His parents had told him his birth mother’s family name and even offered to pay for a flight to Japan for him. He had always declined.

But once he recovered from his heart attack, Hollywood began his search. His plan was to send his mother a secret letter, in case she never told anyone she had a son. He wanted her to know how wonderful his life turned out, to show her gratitude. He planned to write: “I lived the best life ever. I’m a colonel in the United States Air Force. I’ve got beautiful children. Life is really good.”

He gave the Japanese Embassy what information he had, but it wasn’t enough to find her. The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo told him the same thing. A private detective didn’t work out either, so he gave up.

“And I thought, ‘You know what, I’ve tried. I’ve made all the effort that I can make. It’s just unfortunate,’ ” Hollywood said.

A few months later, he was at Dulles International Airport in Virginia on his way to a military conference in Germany. Early for his flight, he sat down at a wine bar. Across from him was another military man who was going to the same conference. It was a turning point in Hollywood’s story.

The man was Adm. Harry Harris, whose mother was Japanese. (Today, he is commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific and has been nominated to be ambassador to South Korea.) They started sharing stories.

“I told him the story about having the heart attack and wishing I could find …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World

      

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