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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 13, 2001

Mom reunites with three children

By Rod Ohira
Advertiser Staff Writer

Whenever she looked in the mirror, Frances "Frannie" Fujii Chung saw something that wasn't right.

Keith Omizo, Frances Chung, Hiroko Teruya, Wes Naganuma and Michael Goss are reunited after a family search.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

"I just didn't look Japanese," says Chung, 40, who was adopted by Charles and Janet Fujii at age 2. "My parents told me I was Japanese, but my friends always questioned me about being hapa (half) haole."

Her ethnicity remained a mystery until two months ago when Chung met her biological mother, Hiroko Teruya, and three brothers — Wes Naganuma, 39, Keith Omizo, 38, and Michael Kotaro Goss, 36 — for the first time.

Chung learned that her father was of Japanese, Hawaiian, Okinawan, Chinese and Irish ancestry. She also learned that she, Naganuma and Omizo had been put up for adoption while Teruya raised Goss herself.

Teruya, now 57, discovered that she has 10 grandchildren with another on the way and soon will have two great-grandchildren, as well.

How they all came together after nearly 40 years apart and how they lived so closely together without knowing they were related is as remarkable as Teruya's reaction when her children came bounding back into her life: relief that there are no more secrets and no regrets for having given them up for adoption in the first place.

The catalyst for the reunion was Ann Omizo, Keith's mother, who encouraged him to find his biological parents.

"My mom had a sister, who was adopted, that she always wanted to find," said Keith Omizo, who grew up in Waimanalo, attended Kailua High School and works as a cook at Coral Kingdom. "She never found her until the sister died. She didn't want me to go through that."

Keith Omizo paid $600 to Family Court late last year to have them contact his biological parents. Three weeks later, in early January, he received a telephone call from Teruya. "She said, 'Hi, this is Hiroko' and I said, 'Mom, is that you?' and we just laughed," Omizo recalled.

They met later that evening at Club Nigori on Ward Avenue between Kawaiaha'o and Waimanu streets, which is co-owned by Teruya.

Teruya, who worked at Duty Free Shoppers for 26 years, took Omizo to meet his younger brother, Mike, and then told them both they had a brother and sister.

"I was so excited," Keith Omizo said. "All I could think about was I had family, got blood, people I can call on to be there for me and I for them."

But there was another twist.

Keith's biological mother and his adoptive mother already knew each other but had no idea of their connection to their son.

"I've known Ann for years," Teruya said. "She works at College Walk Inn (on River Street) and I used to go there a lot."

The brothers and their mother continued the search for the remaining family members.

Finding Naganuma, who retired as technical sergeant last November after 20 years in the Air Force, was easy. He had also paid money to Family Court as part of a family search and left an address in the file. They reached him in December.

But it took them until March to find Chung, who, as it turns out, has never been far away from Teruya, although neither knew it.

Chung, an Emergency Medical Services paramedic, grew up in Kaka'ako and lives on Kawaiaha'o Street, less than a 100 yards away from Club Nigori.

"I knew she was my daughter the first time I saw her," said Teruya, who told Chung all about her father, the late Roland Miyasato, who suffered from asthma, worked in construction and loved to surf. Teruya and Miyasato divorced 29 years ago.

Of her new extended family, Chung says: "I love having brothers who call me Sis."

The biggest mystery, they all wanted to know, and the hardest thing for Teruya to explain, is why they were given up for adoption and why Michael was not.

Their mother said she was 13 when she came to Hawai'i from Kyoto, Japan, in 1956 to live with her mother, Sadako Higasa, and stepfather, David Goss, who was working for IBM and attending college. An only child, Hiroko Eto changed her surname to Goss, and attended Central Intermediate School and Farrington High.

She was 17 when she gave birth to Chung, whom she named Tina, on May 22, 1960.

Teruya quit school and went to work at Capitol Drive-Inn in Kaimuki. By the fall of 1962, she had her second boy and was pregnant with a third when the decision was made to give up all three children.

"There was no money for diapers or food and Roland was already selling his tools," Teruya recalled. "Just to eat dinner, we would walk from Wai'alae to Dillingham (Boulevard). That's where his family lived. Roland said we should give them up for adoption. My parents were all for it because they felt it would give us a new start."

Teruya remembers hearing Keith crying, shortly after giving birth. "I heard him cry one time and then he was gone," a teary-eyed Teruya said.

For weeks, she walked down to the health agency where the adoptions became final but never went inside.

"They give you three months to change your mind," she said. "I was feeling guilty, maybe having a nervous breakdown. But I knew if I went in and got them back, there was no way I could take care of them."

The pain was so great that Teruya and her husband decided to have Michael.

"I wanted to, I had to, get another child," she said. "Frannie said, 'Why did you keep him and not us,' but I told her I had him two years later."

Teruya wanted to send her three children birthday and Christmas gifts but couldn't.

"For me, birthdays were the hardest," she said. "I never forgot the dates for Frannie, Wes and Keith."

Today is Mother's Day and though there's nothing special planned with Teruya because most of her children will be spending time with their adopted moms, there is a special feeling that the children have been reunited with their mother.

"In my heart I thank them," Teruya said of the adopted families. But she knows that the children belong to their adopted parents and she could never take their place. "They wanted to adopt my children, and they gave them a better life than I could have.

"The main thing is I found them and they're OK. They're all married, have children, have jobs and not doing drugs. That's the best Mother's Day gift I could get."

Rod Ohira can be reached by phone at 535-8181, or by e-mail at rohira@honoluluadvertiser.com.

Correction: Hiroko Teruya has no stepchildren. The wrong information appeared in a previous version of this story.