There is a curious pattern to all the characters that my daughter has chosen for her Halloween costumes.
At age three, she wanted to be Superman. At age four, she dressed up as Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. At age five, she was Hermione again. At age six, she paraded around as Princess Leia from Star Wars. And this year, as a seven-year-old, she held court as Queen Lucy from Narnia.
All of her characters have been heroic in nature. And none of them spent all of their childhood years living with their biological parents.
Superman, her first hero, was adopted. He saves people from disaster time and again. Then there was Hermione, a brilliant young girl who has magical powers, unlike her parents. Next came Princess Leia, who was adopted and is a leader in the rebellion against the evil galactic Empire. Finally, Lucy is a young girl who was sent away from her parents during World War II and discovers a magical land where she is destined to be a good queen.
Katie, who is well aware that she was adopted, has never wanted to dress up as a duck or a fairy or a pumpkin. Nor does she want to be a puppy or a kitten. And certainly not a ghoul, a vampire, a mean witch or a goblin. She is not interested in bloody makeup or scary masks.
From the time she was old enough to express her wishes, she has wanted to dress up as superhuman characters that have a history of being separated from their birth parents.
Coincidence? I think not.
It is not uncommon for adopted children to fantasize about their birth families. Every child yearns to be special and different, but this need can be magnified with a child who was placed for adoption. I think Katie's choice of Halloween costumes reflects a subconscious fantasy about who she is and what she will become.
She does not want to dress up as someone scary or evil, because she already fears abandonment and rejection. She is terrified of the possibility that she is "bad" and has no interest in putting a face to the fear. Katie's dream is to discover that she has secret powers, that she is not just good but superhuman. She wants to save the day and earn the love and praise of everyone.
This realization struck me several weeks ago, when Katie wanted to don her full Queen Lucy costume every morning at 6 am before school. I noticed how happy it made her, and I decided that it is healthy and useful for Katie to imagine that she is a heroine. It helps build her confidence, and if she wants to wear her costume every day, then I will gladly be one of her royal subjects.