My earliest memory is from when I was under 2. It must have been, because I remember a holiday that took place in the first house I lived in, which we moved from when I was 2 years old.
Not everyone remembers something from that young, though.
Most people can recall something from age 3 1/2, although the exact age varies. That’s roughly the age that the memory banks of the brain are mature enough to begin storing memories.
For some, the earliest memory seems insignificant. For others, it is a recollection of an emotionally charged or traumatic experience.
What is your earliest memory?
How old were you?
Most people have a memory gap from infancy – age 3. We now know that despite lack of memory, these years are crucial to who we are and how we feel today.
Infants experience a gamut of emotions which influence their personality development.
If you were adopted as an infant, you surely don’t remember what that felt like. Nonetheless, experiences in infancy have a strong effect on personality and behavior. If you were adopted, and are experiencing emotional challenges, there might be a connection.
Recently, there’s been a lot of media attention on an adoption case in Israel. Two years after an infant boy was placed for adoption, his maternal aunt requested a reversal of the adoption. Initially, the court agreed. Subsequently, the case went to the Supreme Court who ruled in favor of the adoptive parents.
This story is complicated, and reminds me of plant cuttings, a metaphor that I sometimes use to explain adoption challenges. Let me explain… A cutting is a branch or stem that is cut off from an existing plant, placed in water or earth, and coached into growing new roots. This process of growing new roots from a cutting can take weeks or months and requires lots of care, in contrast to planting a regular seed.
Why am I mentioning this? Well, when someone is adopted, they have been cut off from their roots. Just like a cutting in nature, this child will require lots more care to grow and thrive.
In a survey of adult adoptees called “281 voices” (www.heartofthematterseminars.com), participants were asked “During childhood, how challenging was your sense of loss related to adoption?”
The responses were:
21% – Significantly challenging
18% – Moderately challenging
24% – Mildly challenging
37% – Not a challenge
In my private therapy practice in Jerusalem, I specialize in adoption issues for children and adults.