US nursing student’s desperate search for her family
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Kayon Strouf has always had a burning desire to belong.
Adopted some 35 years ago at age two, Strouf could never shake the feeling of emptiness as she wondered where her biological family could be.
Strouf, a ophthalmic technician/scribe and nursing student, told the Jamaica Observer that even though she has since emigrated and settled overseas, she is still hoping to be reunited with her biological family one day.
Her aspiration came after reading a recent Sunday Observer article in which a Dominican man found and eventually visited his Jamaican father through the help of this newspaper.
“I saw the story on the Sunday Observer, where a son was reunited with his father, and I had to reach out to his sister to get a contact,” Strouf said.
Explaining that she only knows the name she was given at birth, Strouf said her attempt to receive additional information on the identity of her biological family has so far proven futile.
The name she received at birth was Kay-Ann Reynolds. However, she went by Kayon Williams before she got married.
“I don’t have much information. The only information I have is a last name, which is Reynolds, and that my family is from Lawrence Tavern near Stony Hill in St Andrew. I was adopted at the age of two from the Maxfield Park Children’s Home,” Strouf said.
“I have been actively searching for my family for the past year. But it has not been very successful. I flew to Jamaica and went to the Maxfield Park Children’s Home with two of my high school friends. We went there, one of my friends set up the meeting and I told them what the situation was, gave them all the information, and they said that they wouldn’t have any records of it. So they gave me the contact information for the child agency in Jamaica,” she continued.
Additionally, Strouf explained that she was unsure of her date of birth, as government-issued documents had shown two different dates.
“The date of birth that I use is November 23, 1985. However, a date of birth of November 22 was found on an immunisation card that had my previous name,” she said.
After contacting the Adoption Unit of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) to intensify her search, Strouf was met with a major roadblock after the agency revealed that it was unable to locate her files. In the e-mail, which was shared with the Sunday Observer, the Adoption Unit explained that though it was aware that an adoption took place and Strouf’s file was requested from the agency’s archives, “it is believed that it might have been damaged through constant relocating, or termites”.
The agency noted that without these documents, it was unable to assist Strouf in her search.
Strouf described the news as disheartening, but said she was not discouraged.
“I was very disappointed at the response that I got from them. It was very heartbreaking because they said that they could not locate my files and, basically, because they moved offices, they might have been destroyed by termites. So I was disappointed, but I decided that I wasn’t going to give up and I still wanted to continue the search,” she told the Sunday Observer.
In the meantime, Strouf said that her search for her biological family is being fuelled by a need to feel accepted as a part of the unit. She stated that though she is grateful for the family that took her in, she cannot help feeling the emptiness that lurks inside.
“It will mean a lot to find them, because there is still a void that I believe I just really have to fill. Growing up with my adopted parents, I don’t want to say it was a terrible childhood experience, but I believe it could have been better. I… still suffer from the childhood traumas,” she said.
Strouf said she was constantly reminded that she is not blood-related to the people she calls her family.
“The family that I was adopted into, my father’s side was not very accepting of me. I don’t think they wanted my father to adopt a child. Some of them are not very close with me and I feel like I am reminded by them every day that I am an outsider,” she said.
“I want to feel like I belong. When I had my daughter that gave me a renewed sense of hope that I have someone who is biologically related to me — someone who belongs to me. That is the only bond that I have right now that I would say is very strong, where there is unconditional love that is shared between two people,” Strouf told the Sunday Observer.
At the same time, Strouf stated that she understands different situations may have encouraged her family to have her placed in a children’s home as a toddler. She, however, is ready to meet and talk to the people she has long dreamed of meeting.
“I believe that I am mature enough and I am of the age now where I can handle what’s to come. I know that sometimes you may end up opening a can of worms, but I am mature enough to deal with it right now. I would prefer to have DNA testing done before to be certain and then we’ll take it from there. I don’t know if we are going to be a family again, it depends on the circumstances. But I am ready,” declared Strouf.