Father’s Day Musings

Last month on Mother’s Day, I shared my experience with the observations made by Amy Young in her blog post focused on “The Wide Spectrum of Mothering.” As today is Father’s Day, I can’t help but think about how there is also a wide spectrum of fathering. I find myself, as an adoptee, realizing how one of my fathers is simply not fully represented on days such as today. Many fathers lost their children because unmarried fathers had no legal right to raise their own children. Many fathers lost children they do not even know about. Many fathers lost their children because there are different laws in different states. Fathers are often treated as afterthoughts or seed-providers in adoption. And society is failing them by allowing this to continue.

And so, I offer some expressions and encouraging statements for the first dads of adoption.

  • For those who very much wanted to raise their adopted-out children yet did not have the legal right to do so, we acknowledge your loss and offer our support.
  • For those who asserted their legal right, did not consent to their children’s adoptions and lost them anyway, we vow as a society to recognize the basic human right for a father to raise his own child.
  • For those who lost their children to open adoption and were then cut out of their childrens’ lives completely–we recognize your pain and embrace you with compassion.
  • For those who are not listed on the original birth certificate of their children, we acknowledge your fatherhood.
  • For those who are in reunion with children once lost to adoption–we offer support as you journey down this path of discovery.
  • For those who lost all knowledge of, or contact with, their fathers due to  adoption and sealed birth records–we grieve this profound loss with you and vow to do better as a society to empower and respect the needs and legal rights of adopted persons.

If you would like to add some words of recognition and encouragement, I invite you to share in the comments.Watercolor Tree Email Small 132 x 160Compassion is not just feeling with someone, but seeking to change the situation.

~Desmond Tutu

 

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Adoption and Identity in the Age of Aquarius

The other day when I was driving from Point A to Point B, the song “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” boomed through the car’s speakers thanks to my iPod’s shuffle function. This particular version was the medley of two songs from the musical “Hair” that was released as a single by the 5th Dimension back in 1969. After I snickered a bit thinking about the scene in the film “The-40-Year-Old Virgin” featuring the song, I found myself remembering some aspects of the my childhood–ones that had to do with the song and being adopted.

I was born on January 25, 1971. My astrological sign was Aquarius. And the Age of Aquarius was still going strong. During my very young childhood years, my adoptive mother played the 5th Dimension record album featuring “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” quite a bit on our ginormous, piece-of-statement-furniture, console-style hi-fi system. I remember sitting on the floor in front of the huge speaker panels taking in the tunes. My adoptive mother was also into astrology at the time, as where many. Charting astrological signs was quite popular in the 1970s. There was a framed needlepoint on the wall of my room that my mother had made. It had big bubble letters that read “Aquarius” and featured the mustard yellow, burnt orange and russet brown tones that were considered de rigueur at the time.

Remembering these Aquarius-themed elements of the my childhood sparked an adoption-related realization. As I grew older and gained a greater understanding of exactly how much of my inherent identity and sense-of-self were unknown, I filled the gap with astrology. I read everything I could on how your astrological sign dictated your personality. I would proudly proclaim myself to be “such an Aquarius” when it came to my inherent personality traits and interests. While in college, a friend had a book titled “Sun Signs” that had a chapter for each astrological sign. During my college years, a time when many young adults were finding and identifying themselves, I once again deemed myself “a total Aquarius” and quoted the book. After all, I was (and still am) very idealistic, a conceptual thinker, a communicator and a dreamer. On the flip side, I was (and still am) extremely stubborn, sarcastic and rebellious–a total Aquarius.

As I listened to the 5th Dimension sing about the the Age of Aquarius in the car that day and thought about the fervor with which I consumed information about my astrological sign, it occurred to me that I was once so desperate for a whole sense of self. In the years before reuniting with my natural families and learning more about my inherent characteristics, I turned to astrology in an attempt to figure myself out and to give my existence meaning. My astrological sign connected me to my birth and emergence into the world. My astrological sign could give me the information about my inherent self that my adoptive family simply could not provide. My astrological sign could fill in the cavernous identity gaps that existed for me.

Of course, all the astrological research in the sun, moon and stars could not have given me what I truly needed. The missing pieces of my identity and inherent self existed only in the unknown set of circumstances that occurred before my adoption–and with the people who created me. Knowing my personal history would help me understand myself and how I existed in the world. I needed to let the sunshine in. So I did.Watercolor Tree Email Small 132 x 160When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age
Of a Aquarius, the age of Aquarius
Aquarius, Aquarius

~Galt MacDermot, James Rado, Germone Ragni