MONTEGO BAY, St James — Gloria Smart could not believe her luck. A day after her burning desire to meet her biological mother was published by the Jamaica Observer on Sunday, her wish came true.
The reunion took place at Charles Gordon Market in Montego Bay, and both women were beside themselves with joy.
They hugged, kept stroking each other’s faces and held hands in the middle of the busy market, ignoring the curious glances and stares from people walking by.
The mother and daughter, who had been separated for 33 years, spoke as if they had known each other all their lives.
Gloria, who was led to believe that she was abandoned at the market as a three-month-old baby, had used this newspaper to appeal for assistance in her search for her biological mother.
“Mi just want to see the lady who carry me come here, so at least I know that I have a mother. That would mean everything to me,” Gloria said then.
To Gloria’s delight, a phone call from the Jamaica Observer West on Monday afternoon changed her perspective on who she is and where she came from.
Gloria’s aunt, Nateisha Smart, was doing her routine scroll on this newspaper’s Facebook page when she saw a face that “looked extremely familiar”. According to Nateisha, she was a young child when her then-teenage sister Eleisa Smart gave birth to a baby girl. She told the Observer West that, even before she clicked the link to read the article, she was convinced Gloria is her sister’s daughter because of their resemblance.
After making contact with the Observer West, the three women were eager to meet and made arrangements to do so in less than two hours while on a conference call.
Gloria’s voice was filled with excitement as she reminisced on the days she dreamt of meeting her biological mother. Before the phone call ended, Gloria was already referring to the two women as mommy and aunty, a sign that she had longed to have a family of her own.
During the reunion, Eleisa shared the pain and betrayal she felt when she lost her baby girl 33 years ago. She told the Observer West that she gave birth to Gloria, whom she had hoped to name Kasian, at her home in St James when she was 16 years old. Gloria was taken to the nearby Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) where she was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit as she was born prematurely.
As she shared her ordeal, Eleisa continuously rubbed her daughter’s hands while noting that her tears over the years were not in vain.
Fighting to keep her emotions in check, Gloria told her mother that it was her tears that “kept” her going.
“Everything that I cried for is right in front of me,” Eleisa said.
Noting that she was from a poor family, Eleisa said she was unable to visit the hospital daily because of their financial situation and would, instead, go on alternate days. She said that during one of those visits she was told that her newborn baby was no longer at the hospital. However, information on her baby’s location was not forthcoming.
“I did not leave my baby at any market. Things were difficult so I did not have the funds to go to the hospital every day. It was right up by the hospital dem tek weh my pickney from. She had a really bad cold and one of the days I couldn’t get to go up there. When I went back to look for my baby, they said the baby was not there, they sent her away to a home,” Eleisa stated.
“When I realised that she was missing I should have said it to my stepmother, but I was scared. But I knew that something was wrong and I was still trying to locate her. It just wasn’t working out,” she said, holding her daughter’s hands.
Despite the heartbreak, Eleisa is now looking to build a bond and make up for the time she has lost with Gloria, her only child.
“I am very happy. I don’t want to think about the past, I just want to talk about how I am feeling now. I expected to find her because we didn’t stop looking. I used to tell people that I am not giving up because I knew that one day I would find her,” she said.
In the meantime, Gloria is adamant that she will be changing her name through a deed poll. She told the Observer West that meeting her mother and learning that she was not left at the market was a great relief.
“I am so happy to finally know my mom after 33 years. Growing up without a mother was very hard. I would always tell myself that I will meet my biological mother before my eyes are permanently closed. I am very relieved because if I should even leave here and that happens, at least I knew my mother. This is a dream come true,” said Gloria.