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This is a short story dating back to the 1980s or earlier - I read it in my school library in the late 80s/very early 90s. It's about a world in which underdeveloped planets were forced to hand over children for adoption to wealthy offworlders. They are told to have a 'birthday party' for two year olds who are then taken away. The first scene is, indeed, a family trying to have a 'par-ty' for a small child who is then taken.

Many years later, few of the adopted children know they were adopted. One of the children - perhaps the child taken in the first scene? - meets an old friend of his in a bar who is talking about composing a song about searching for home. The song becomes very popular and suddenly these people start feeling a need to find somewhere they barely remember. The story ends with news that a planet which had been thought of as nearly empty was erupting into rebellion as these missing children return.

It was one of a collection of short stories in an anthology that I found in my school library in the UK in the late 80s/early 90s. I think the cover had an image that looked like a tree lit up in the dark but I'm not sure.

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  • Hi and welcome to the site, please take the tour and visit the help center, also we would still appreciate you editing in an more details from this list to help us find the story you're looking for, such as where and when you read it.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jul 28, 2021 at 13:10
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    Are both of the stories you have asked about in the same anthology? Jul 28, 2021 at 15:40
  • I'm not sure. I think they might be, but because it was so long ago I couldn't be certain, which was why I asked about them separately.
    – Sally TP
    Jul 29, 2021 at 16:33
  • @SallyTP just so you know, even if they were in the same anthology, asking about them separately would still have been the right course of action :D
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jul 29, 2021 at 17:13

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