Returning To Jamaica After My Adoption

Hadassah Griffin, Staff Writer

4 years ago I moved to the United States after I was adopted by my American parents. Throughout those four years, I’ve tried to build my life in America by adjusting to my new way of life but because of my age when I move to the United States, I had a strong bond with my biological mother and siblings. Leaving a country at 12 years old you have already found yourself in that society and you are in love with your culture. Living in America is such a great experience and it broadens my knowledge about other people and other cultures. However, every single moment I always missed my country and my family. Recently I finally visited Jamaica after 4 long years and it was the most tremendous experience. I’m from a small place in Jamaica called Gaza or formally Waterford, that community has molded me into the person I am today it taught me resilience and how to be happy with whatever little you have. This was a total surprise for my family because I only told my older sister that came to pick me up at the airport but my mother and other siblings had no idea that I was coming. When I got to the house and I walked in I startled my mother but as she realizes that it was me I saw how happy she was to see me after 4 years. We’ve kept in contact every single day for the last four years but to finally see me in person, hug me, kiss me, and feel that I am there was such a great feeling for her. My family and I always had a great relationship and just being there with them gave me such peace.
Coming from a community that is plagued with poverty and violence I always remembered the things I experienced as a child but when I went back to that very same community I realized how those experiences made me who I am today. Getting to see my friends and hanging out with them and going to the beach and doing stuff we used to do as children were the most exciting part. To them I’m still their friend, I was afraid they were going to think of me as this American teenager they always joked about because I was so distant from the community. They soon realized after a couple of days of me being there that I am the same person and not because I have been introduced to a better life in America I have forgotten where I came from. Many of their lives are still hard, they still face struggles I no longer have to face but that gives me so much respect for them because I see their resilience on a daily basis.
When people think of Jamaica they think of resorts and beaches but where I’m from that’s not what we know Jamaica as. When I think of Jamaican think of where I’m from I think of the struggles. Many people when I tell them I’m from Jamaica they always greet me with that stereotypical idea of what Jamaica is but growing up the way I grew up I never got to experience that Jamaica until I recently went back to Jamaica. I’ve never been to Montego Bay until I went back to Jamaica recently and  I had never been to Negril until I went back to Jamaica recently, two very popular resort cities.  I urge people when you visit Jamaica to go deeper than the resorts go to the communities and fall in love with the culture not only the beaches.
Visiting my family and my friends were the most life-changing visit for me because before that I was almost on the verge of giving up totally because of hardships that were happening in my life in America but when I went back to my little community and I realize how resilient my friends were the spite of their situations that are far worse than mine then I realized that I could still be thankful that I have what I have. This trip has done a lot for me but if anything it showed me again where I’m coming from and why I cannot go back there so I have to push forward not only for myself but for my friends and family that are in Jamaica. Everybody that I saw, my friends family, and neighbors lamented how proud they were of me and how I was able to hold my head high despite my circumstances growing up. When they see me, they see someone that has beaten the odds. There’s an old Chinese proverb that my mom always told me and she told me again while I was in Jamaica,  she said “those who enter the jungle never come out the same.”