Book Notes: “ITHAKA” Reveals Importance of Adoption Search Process

I often tell adoptees that searching is as crucial a part of the wholeness process, as finding, and that they should keep it as hands-on as possible. The many stages of revelation during my own search, allowed me to grow and change along with information, as it was revealed.  Instead of a sudden reunion, my mind was readied (as much as it could be) for the reality of a second family. I was in charge of the unveiling process.

Last night, I finished reading the book, ‘ITHAKA’ by Sarah Saffian. Subtitled, “A Daughter’s Memoir of Being Found”, the book offers a unique perspective into what happens when the search is not controlled by the adoptee, and is instead a search FOR the adoptee by the birthparent.

I know many of you are thinking that this scenario is a dream come true. Well, it can be, but as revealed in this poignant non-fiction work, it can also be a life-altering shock.

In the book,  Saffian recalls the phone call that changed her life forever. Sarah’s birthparents were re-united after her relinquishment, and married. They searched for Sarah, found her, and called her.

Saffian discusses how she undertook some mock search steps after the call, to better understand what it would have been like if she had been the one searching.  A successful New York woman, with a solid adoptive family, she clearly enjoyed control over her destiny, until her birthparents called.

Writing letters to her birthparents for years before being reunited, she undertook a process of adjustment, not unlike that of an adoptee in search.  She needed those letters and time to reprogram her reality.  Saffian does a wonderful job of exploring the plethora of emotions, and adjustments required to accept a dual identity. I applaud her honesty, and highly recommend this book for all adoptees  and birthparents.

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