ISS-Japan and ISS-USA collaborated – finding Wendy and facilitating everything thereafter – communications, the inheritance, and a family reunion in Japan. Answers, long sought, were now at hand. Wendy learned that her father, John, was an American businessman working in Tokyo for a New York-based insurance company. He and Kazuko dated for two years before John returned home, never knowing that he and Kazuko were to have a daughter.
Wendy also discovered how desperately Kazuko wanted to keep her, even though Japanese society considered it scandalous to rear a mixed-race child. Kazuko’s letters revealed her despair. “I see Arisa in my dream every night,” Kazuko wrote. “Whenever I see a mother holding her baby in her arms on the street, I feel sad and cry when I come home.”
“She did the kindest thing she possibly could by giving me up, but I think she sacrificed her life to have me,” Wendy said. The loss of Arisa had a profound effect on Kazuko. She severed all contact with her family, living a solitary life until her death.
Kazuko could never make it right. She was rarely seen without Lily, a doll that most considered a substitute for her Arisa. Ironically, years later and continents away, Wendy named her second daughter Lily as well.
As the reunion approached, anticipation built. “I wanted to see where I came from and how my mother lived,” Wendy said. “Nothing could have prepared us for the reception we received. From the moment we got off of the plane, the people were just so lovely.”