We are often asked, "What percent of adoptees search for their birth parents?" And our answer surprises people: "One hundred percent." In our experience, all adoptees engage in a search process. It may not be a literal search, but it is a meaningful search nonetheless. It begins when the child first asks, "Why did it
happen?" "Who are they?" "Where are they now?" These questions may be asked out loud, or they may constitute a more private form of searching -- questions that are examined only in the solitute of self-reflection. This universal search begins during the early school years, prompted by the child's growing awareness of adoption issues.
One of this week's vocabulary words in Zoe's second-grade class was imagination. She connected it up right away to her imagining about her birth parents. I asked her what kinds of things she imagines about them, and she said, "That maybe they lived on a farm and didn't have enough food to feed everybody and that's why they gave me away." ('gave me away' is a new phrase for her, it's usually 'why they couldn't keep me' -- we'll definitely be exploring that.)
She doesn't seem to be imagining what her birth parents are doing now -- other than wondering if they are alive or dead -- her imagination takes her to the moment of her abandonment. She is still struggling to understand why.