Sunday, January 25, 2015

Adoption and Identity in the Age of Aquarius

On a recent day as 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.

When 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

Julie Stromberg
When the time came to think about college, I decided that my career path would encompass either child psychology or journalism. Fortunately for all the young people out there, I opted for journalism and earned a bachelor's degree in communications. Since that time, I have worked as a newspaper and magazine staff writer, public relations associate, and marketing copywriter. My professional creative efforts have been acknowledged with several industry awards.

I am also pleased to be involved in several writing and advocacy projects outside of the office. As an adoptee, my advocacy work is focused on changing the common, societal discourse on adoption practices and encouraging reform that would place the emotional needs and legal rights of the children involved first.