The ‘orphan’ whose family finally found her 

For years, I thought I had no one, and believed that my mother abandoned me at a bus stop when I was six years old. Now, a month ago, I finally found my family.

Here I am on the phone speaking to this woman 26 years later, having had all that as the truth in my mind, and after all those years alone in state care. Here we are talking on the phone, but she is saying she never left me anywhere.

“Hi goodnight, am I speaking to Mary?*” I asked. “This is Karen*, do you know my name?”

“Yes.”

“So what am I supposed to be to you?”

“My daughter.”

“But you left me.”

“No.”

Competing family histories

Instead she tells me that my father was a mean man who would not give her any money for me. She tells me that she sent me back to him because if I was with him he would have to spend money on me. I don’t know what happened, but somewhere between my parents I went missing.

For persons who do psychology they know that the mind will choose to remember or choose to forget, so perhaps my mind chose to forget. I certainly don’t remember anything like what she is telling me; what I remember is something completely different. 

I still feel that there is a disconnect with the story she gave me. You can tell something is not being said, but I will leave it for now, because at least I found her and I am happy. I also want to find my father and find any siblings that I may have on his side.

Yet I am trying to focus on the positives, like thinking that my birthday is this day, but then she says it is another day – so now I get to celebrate it twice!

My children and helping children like me

Currently I am finishing the second year of my associate degree and will start my bachelors in September. Then I will have one more year and I will have my bachelors degree in social work. It is still my goal to work with and help children in state care, like I once was.

What has happened makes me appreciate being around my children even more; and I tell them everyday I am not leaving them to go anywhere! I tell them that I love them and I hug them just to connect with them – I do that now even more than before because I see that time is just moving so fast. 

I am trying to savour those moments right now.

UNICEF is partnering with Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) to address improvements needed for children in state care. As part of the initiative, JFJ is currently undertaking the most comprehensive study of its kind to examine the state care landscape in Jamaica, including quality of care for children in state care.

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