Top News

Newfoundland-born man’s 25-year search for birth mother ends at her funeral

Bruce Hauck’s family photo that he placed in his mother’s hand the day she was buried.
Bruce Hauck’s family photo that he placed in his mother’s hand the day she was buried. - Submitted

Bruce Pollard, born in St. Anthony, met his biological mother for the first time one day after her death

Two teardrops dot the casket of Emelina Pollard, the tears of a son she was forced to give up for adoption 47 years ago, a son whose 25-year search for her ended at her funeral.

Bruce Pollard was born in St. Anthony on Jan. 5, 1971. He was 10 pounds, six ounces.

Emelina Pollard was 19 years old when Bruce was born. She suffered polio early in her life, which left her left arm slightly smaller than her right. The pregnancy was unexpected. Her mother did not approve.

Emelina was forced to give up her newborn son. She did get to hold him, briefly, before the nurses took him away. She got to keep the small boots put on newborns as a keepsake for the years to come.

Baby Bruce was passed to two foster homes. After worries of negligence in one of the homes, he was given to the care of the Catholic Church, which began a search for adoptive parents when he was six months old.

Mina Hauck and David Hauck, from central Ontario, had tried for years to have a child of their own, but were unable. They turned to adoption agencies in their effort to form a family.

Mina was a nurse. She was told it would be six months before she heard back on her application to adopt a child. Two weeks later, the phone rang. A match was found.

The child was in Gander, Newfoundland, and she had to get there in person as soon as possible to meet him.

She tried to get time off work, but her boss refused. She slapped her nametag on her desk and said her boss could keep the job, but she had to go meet her new baby boy.

Mina and David piled into a 1967 Pontiac Tempest with their parents and started the drive to Newfoundland.

After Mina and David’s first trip across the Cabot Strait in 1971 — during which they were seasick the entire time — they met baby Bruce.

Bruce Pollard became Bruce Hauck and a new family was born. They headed back to Ontario to start their new life.

“There was that awkward silence. I’m thinking, did he hang up? He says ‘You’re my guy. You’re the one I’ve been looking for.’”

Mina and David didn’t tell Bruce that he was adopted right away. But they did foster a keen sense of curiosity.

They kept a large, blue bin in the basement. Because Bruce was a big lad, they piled box after box on top of the bin to keep young Bruce from sticking his nose into their bin. But his curiosity was just too much.

At age 13, Bruce went to the basement, moved all the boxes from the top of the bin one by one, and peered inside.

He found papers from nuns and nurses in some place called Newfoundland.

Mina called David down to have a talk with their son.

For a time, Bruce wore his adoption like a badge of honour. He was so proud to be adopted.

In 1993, the sense of curiosity began anew. He had to find the woman who gave birth to him.

Bruce knew his starting point was St. Anthony. He knew his mother had a disfigured arm. Otherwise, he had nothing. For years, Bruce followed every lead he could to find his mother, but met only frustration.

At one point, Bruce lived in Bolton, Ont. Little did Bruce know, he had a cousin from his birth mother’s family who lived just a block away. Bruce would later learn that at one point, Emelina stayed with that cousin for a week, just a short walk away.

“She was there. She was there. I never had any idea that she was so close,” Hauck said.

“It rips my heart to shreds. As you can imagine my heart is broken because of the way it played out. But it warms my heart knowing that at one point, through no control of my own, she was that close to me.”

Related stories:

Clarenville man legally adopts stepdaughter after almost 39 years

A birth mother’s story

Birth mother tells emotional story of reuniting with her son after more than two decades

On top of that, he would later learn his mother lived just a four-hour drive away, down Highway 401, for years.

At one point, Bruce joined a Facebook group called Newfoundland and Labrador Adoptees. He entered what little he knew about his mother, to allow people the chance to help him with his search.

On Monday, Jan. 15, he got a message from one of his cousins, Melvin Pollard.

Melvin put Bruce in touch with another cousin, Murdock Pollard.
Bruce called Murdock and asked him if the woman he thought was his mother had a deformed left arm.

“There was that awkward silence. I’m thinking, did he hang up? He says ‘You’re my guy. You’re the one I’ve been looking for.’”

Bruce learned that for years his birth mother had always talked about her baby boy. Every Jan. 5, she celebrated his birthday. Two years ago, she baked a cake.

Bruce also learned that on Sunday, Jan. 14, Emelina had suffered a heart attack and died. Emelina Pollard was 65 years old.

“It didn’t hit me right there. I put my head down. The beginning of my heart being broken started right there,” he said.

On Tuesday, Emelina’s wake began. On Thursday, she was to be buried. Bruce jumped into his car and raced to the funeral home to meet his mother for the first and last time.

When Bruce walked into the funeral home, he couldn’t bring himself to see the casket at first. It took him three tries to gather the will.

Finally, surrounded by the family he had just met, he entered the room, their hands on his back, helping him along. Then, he was given time alone.

“It was just me and her. I left pictures of myself and my kids and my wife and I put it in her hands. I told her, ‘I will see you again. Not today, not tomorrow, but I promise I will see you again. I will get my hug. I will look into your eyes and I will hear your voice, one day,’” he said.

“I kissed her on her forehead and I said, ‘I know that you looked for me. I know that all you ever wanted was to know that your boy was OK.’ I got down on my knees and I said, ‘Mama, I’m OK. Your boy is OK.’”

Bruce said he cried two tears, which fell onto the casket. He asked the funeral director not to wipe them away. Emelina Pollard was buried with the tears of her long-lost son still fresh.

Today, Bruce says he has a bigger family. He and his wife, Tracey, have a son and a daughter. Now, Bruce knows his brother, Andre Foote, and sister, Tasha Foote, along with uncles, aunts and cousins he never knew.

“I know how she died. They’re going to tell me how she lived,” he said.

Bruce says his new family will give him the mother he never met.

“I’m going to have necklaces made, just for the three of us, carrying mom’s ashes,” said Hauck.

“I don’t like using the term half-brother and half-sister. We carry the same blood. That’s my brother and sister.”

Related stories:

Clarenville man legally adopts stepdaughter after almost 39 years

A birth mother’s story

Birth mother tells emotional story of reuniting with her son after more than two decades

Recent Stories