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Parker, C. (2007). Missing, Wishing, Reminiscing: Narratives of Two Adopted Children. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 6(2):97-110.

(2007). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 6(2):97-110

Missing, Wishing, Reminiscing: Narratives of Two Adopted Children

Corliss Parker, Ph.D.


THIS PAST SUMMER, I REMEMBERED A FANTASTIC CREATURE KURT Vonnegut created in his 1959 novel The Sirens of Titan. “Harmoniums” are small, diamond-shaped creatures that cling to the walls of caves on the planet Mercury. Throughout eternity, they utter two phrases only. One repeats, in a uniquely harmonium way, “Here I am, here I am,” while another answers over and over, “So glad you are, so glad you are.”

Vonnegut's harmoniums came to mind as I was thinking about two boys' birth and adoption narratives, which developed in the context of their ongoing psychotherapies. Being able to say, in effect, “Here I am” and to hear back “So glad you are” was, in essence, an exchange both boys seemed urgently to be seeking in their communications with parents and therapists. Both had been given up for adoption during the first week of life. How they were told about that, and what sense they made of it, are two foci of my paper. I'll show how these boys wove together elements of reality, fantasy and desire in their creation of narrative. How their stories evolved in the context of therapeutic relationships will be delineated. Finally, I'll share some thoughts regarding how children seem to experience what they are told about relinquishment and adoption.

Jeffrey's Narrative

A handsome, thoughtful boy, Jeffrey (a pseudonym) was adopted when he was eight days old. Coincidentally, he resembles his adoptive mother physically. Jeffrey has a brother, six years older, who was conceived naturally without intervention, and an adopted sister, twenty months younger.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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