As It Happens

This Newfoundland-born man finally found his long lost birth mother — 1 day after she died

Bruce Hauck spent 25 years trying to track down his birth mother. When he finally saw her for the first time, it was at her funeral.
Bruce Hauck holds up a picture of his birth mother, Melina Foote. The Newfoundland-born man spent his life searching for Foote, but did not find her until it was too late. (Submitted by Bruce Hauck)
Listen8:01

After 25 years of searching for his birth mother, Bruce Hauck finally found her — one day after she died.

"That's the way it played out," the 47-year-old from Bradford, Ont., told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

"Not the fairy tale ending that everyone that is adopted would prefer or certainly want. It was a brutal reality."

Hauck was born Bruce Pollard on Jan. 5, 1971, in St. Anthony, N.L., to 19-year-old Melina Pollard. The pregnancy was unexpected and Melina's mother didn't approve, reports the Northern Pen newspaper. Bruce was put up for adoption.

Bruce Hauck, pictured here on the left with his wife Tracy, and on the right with his daughter Madeline. (Submitted by Bruce Hauck)

He was adopted and raised by loving parents, Mina and David Hauck, in central Ontario, but always wondered about his biological mother.

As a young man, he set out to find her. He learned that she was from St. Anthony and that she had a disfigured left arm from polio — but nothing else.

Eventually, he married and had children of his own. Still, he always wondered about her.

A Facebook connection 

Recently, Hauck joined the Facebook group Newfoundland and Labrador Adoptees and posted what he knew about his mother in the hopes that someone would be able to help him track her down.

Someone recognized the description and word eventually got back to Hauck's biological cousins in Newfoundland. 

This Facebook message eventually connected Hauck to his biological family in Newfoundland and Windsor, Ont. (Facebook )

On Jan. 15, Hauck got a message from one of those cousins. Melvin Pollard said he had information about Hauck's mother and that, "time is of the essence."

Melvin put Hauck in touch with another cousin, Murdock Pollard, and the pair met up that day at a Tim Hortons in Windsor, Ont.

That's when Hauck finally learned that his mother, now Melina Foote, had suffered a heart attack and died the day before.

"In doing this 25-year journey, through the two-plus decades, I always had a vision — I had a dream of how this would end, how it would play out and how I wanted it to play out," Hauck said.

"Unfortunately, that's not what happened. I faced a different reality."

As It Happens has confirmed details of Hauck's story with several of his relatives, including Melvin and Murdock Pollard.

Hello, goodbye

Hauck learned from his cousins that his mother eventually married and had two children, Andre and Natasha, and spent most of her life in Windsor — just a four-hour drive from Hauck's home. 

He even learned that she once spent a week with a cousin in Bolton, Ont., just down the street from where Hauck was living at the time.

Hauck's newly found cousins invited him to attend Foote's funeral in Windsor. It was there that he saw his mother for the first time.

He took a moment to say hello — and then goodbye. 

Melina Pollard died from a heart attack on Jan. 14. She was 65. (Submitted by Bruce Hauck)

"You spend more than half your natural life trying to do a thing and suddenly the moment is thrust upon you, albeit in not a truly happy ending — but I got to see her face, I got to kiss her forehead, I got to hold her hand, I got to whisper what I wanted to in her ear to send her off," he said, choking back tears.

"Through family members, I learned that all she ever wanted to know was that her boy was OK. And my parting words to her were, of course, that, 'I will see you again, but please remember something mom: Your boy's OK."

A brand new family 

He left photographs of himself, his wife and his children in her casket so she would have something of his.

Later, after everyone else left the funeral parlour, he stood over her closed casket and cried. He asked the funeral home workers not to clean away the tears.

"Really, a frozen moment in time," he said. "I'll never forget it."

His new cousins introduced him to his long lost half brother and sister, who he says have welcomed him into their family and shared personal stories about his mother's life.

He found out that she often talked about him and would bake a cake every year on his birthday.

"According to my brother, there wasn't a Jan. 5 that would go by that she wouldn't acknowledge the day," he said.

"On my side of things, the same goes for Mother's Day. There isn't a Mother's Day that would go by that I wouldn't think of her."

According to Foote's obituary, she 'will be remembered for being kind, caring and generous, always thinking about others before herself.' (Familiesfirst.ca)

While not the ending the way he'd always hoped for, Hauck said his new family is the "silver lining" in all this.

"I closed one chapter of my life and I opened a new chapter, which is a family that has shown nothing but open arms," he said.

"Truly, truly a beautiful thing."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.