The Adoption Triangle of Love

When I was searching for ideas for my 100th post my friend, LLCoolJoe, asked about my experience with adoption. First of all, I could probably start a whole new blog and have plenty of material on adoption alone. I can go on and on about how adoption has touched my life. Today I’m going to share with you this nifty little piece of jewelry I found years ago.

It’s called the adoption triangle of love. Just after we adopted our daughter my husband had it made for me from a picture he saw in an adoption magazine. The premise is that each person involved (the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the child) are all joined in love. I loved this idea. I loved wearing this symbol of my part in the adoption process. And then, one day, while teaching my incredible students, one of them asked why I was wearing a Star of David. I laughed. Yes, it did look a bit like the Star of David. But I explained what the symbol meant and he scoffed, “There’s no love in adoption!”

I was stunned. He said, “The only person that gains from adoption is the adoptive parent. The birth parent is just a selfish (fill in the blank) who was too lazy to care for her own child and the child is just another piece of unwanted garbage tossed aside.” I was at a loss for words.

Ever since I was a little girl my mother said I’ve wanted to adopt. She said when I was very young I would say, “I’m going to have one on my own first and then adopt the rest.” I pictured a house full of children. All colors. All genders. All abilities. I have no idea how I created this vision for my life. Fast forward twenty years and I received the news that I was infertile. No big deal, I thought. We’ll just adopt. I’ve never been one of those women who needed to experience pregnancy.

Selfishly, I chose to go the route of international adoption. Selfish because I was not willing to take the risk of a failed adoption here in the U.S. I had heard too many stories of birth fathers suddenly coming into the picture, or the birth mother changing her mind after the baby has been placed. Do you remember the Baby Jessica case back in the 90’s? A 2 1/2-year-old girl, ripped from her adoptive parents arms because the birth mother (who a year after choosing adoption for her baby ended up married to the birth father after all) changed her mind. It was heart wrenching. DNA does not determine who the parent is, in my book. It’s who steps up to the plate to take care of the child.

The mountain of paper work is daunting. The hoops you have to jump through (psychological tests, physical exams, letters of recommendation, fingerprints filed, financial records verified, parenting classes) are many. The expense is a fair amount. And I mean that in every sense of the word. No one gets rich off of adoption – unless, of course, you’re dealing with unscrupulous people. But that can happen in any financial transaction. Once everything is all said and done, the expense (in our experience anyway) was about the amount we’d need for a biological birth. I wasn’t able to be covered for insurance for a birth anyway because of my infertility – so the cost would be the same if I got pregnant. (Which actually happened years later but that’s for another post)

It took a little over a year for us to complete the process. And during that time I’d sit at the OB/GYN for my annual exam and see teenagers complaining about how uncomfortable they were, being 8 months pregnant. Unmarried. Planning on keeping their child  – with grandma’s help, that is. Not that there’s anything wrong with that choice, as long it provides a strong, stable home for the child. But many times, it doesn’t. I would sit there remembering that line from the movie Parenthood; “You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car – hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.” Or mother, for that matter.

Having been raised Catholic, I struggle with the issue of abortion. For me, hopefully for my daughter, abortion is not an option. But when I see all those protestors lining the streets with their signs outside Planned Parenthood clinics I want to shout, “How many children have you adopted?” It’s easy for me to tell someone else you shouldn’t abort. I have a job. A home. Supportive family and friends. But do I have a plan for her if she chooses to give birth? I haven’t walked a mile in her shoes. I have no idea what her personal struggle is.

But choosing adoption for your child when you know you can’t provide the life your baby deserves? Heroic. Amazing. A decision – especially now that I’ve been able to experience the miracle of birth – that is made completely and totally with love. Absolutely. Without any doubt in my mind. 

I have two children through adoption. Two birth mothers that made the most difficult, yet loving decision for their child. I am incredibly honored that they touched my life by entrusting the care of their biological child with me. They could have chosen an easier route. But they didn’t. They chose the difficult path because that was in the best interest of their child. I believe that God entrusts us, as parents, with children to raise. He loans them to us -through biology or adoption – to care for their needs as only we can do in the physical world. Biological or not, they are children that need shelter and guidance until they are on their own.

But maybe my former student was right. Maybe I am the only one who “gained” anything from the process. From my perspective I have gained so much. I have two beautiful children through adoption that I cherish and love. I’d like to think that they gained something too, having a stable, loving home to be nurtured in until they are ready to take charge of their own lives. And the birth parents of my children dug deep in their hearts to make the most difficult, best choice for their child. An adoption triangle. Complicated. Complex. But definitely connected in love. No doubt in my mind.


Filed under Be-Causes, children, Soapbox

38 responses to “The Adoption Triangle of Love

  1. suzicate

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing your story. The necklace is lovely as well…a very sweet reminder.

  2. I love the pendant! And that former student of yours was just parroting what he heard at the dinner table…

    How lucky for you, and for your children, that you were given each other.

  3. I recently read about a 16 year old girl giving birth and giving her baby boy up for adoption on CafeMom. Her story will bring tears to your eyes as well a make you think. Could you give up your baby? I know it so hard , you can see the love she has for her son in her journals.
    I wished she could read your post here on adoption and have it give her a little comfort in what she has done was right for her baby as well as her. She had no support from her boyfriend or parents. She was alone in all the decisions and know she could not care properly for her now baby boy.
    I have a on line blog and baby gift shop. Would you consider writing a post that I may use there about what adoption has meant for your family and you.
    Shirley Bollinger
    – Pm I am just starting a small blog here also called gifts4baby.

  4. I had no idea you were an adoptive mom! How lovely to know…we’re in the middle of it all. Daunting is not the word. Overwhelming, perhaps. Blessings to you and yours!

  5. unabridgedgirl


    One of my good friends just adopted. It is actually an open-adoption, and thus far I can say it has been a great experience for all of them. The birth mother has said that her relationships with family have improved, her goals in life have changed, and she knows this baby was meant for someone else. The adoptive parents couldn’t be happier or show more love to their new little girl, who is happy and healthy and supported.

    I am glad there are people who are willing to adopt and be parents! Not too long ago I heard a story about a woman who adopted and then reversed the adoption, because she wasn’t “bonding” with the child. I am not sure what to say on that subject…

    Great post!

  6. angelcel

    Hmm, I think that student’s words say more about him than about you – if I’m being fair they simply reflect his age and inexperience of life. Adoptive parents are very special people with open hearts.

  7. Another beautiful post. I’m so glad you wrote it. Your student is ignorant about the world. I totally agree with you that giving your child up for adoption is an act of love. I’ve met my husband’s birth mom, and she’s a very loving woman who never stopped loving her son and always believed he was given a better life because she put him up for adoption. And people who adopt are special people.

  8. Your student sounds like an angry kid. Maybe he had some kind of adoption experience that went terribly wrong. I agree with angelcel; he was telling you something sad about his life that must have made it hard for him to see the gift that adoption has been to your family.

    (And isn’t your husband creative? That pendant is beautiful.)

  9. Thank you so much for your views and perspective on adoption. I loved reading this post.

    Yes I’m adopted, in the days when it was very very closed, and to be honest that suited me.

    I also have 2 adopted daughters. It took us years to go through the process here in the UK and yes we had the issue of one of them being taken away from us after she’d be placed in our home. That has to be about the worst experience in my life but the whole story deserves a blog post of it’s own.

    I have a fairly unique view on adoption as someone who is adopted and an adoptee as well, which may not paint such a rosy picture of harmony, but I’m still very positive about Adoption.

    • I realize that not every experience is “rosy.” And I am so sad for those involved. But we’ve had a wonderful, amazing, life-changing experience. I only hope that the majority of adoption experiences are like ours.

  10. One of my best friends was adopted. I don’t think she ever once regretted it.

  11. This is so powerful! My little sister (age 21) is actually adopted. She’s my dad’s daughter from a previous marriage and they adopted her since his ex-wife couldn’t have kids. I think adoption is such an amazing thing. Both for the parents who can give up the child and especially for the parents who love a child that needs a home. I, like you, have always dreamed of adopting at least one child after I have one or two of my own if I am financially able to do so. Great post!

  12. What an incredible, beautiful, and moving story. I don’t think adoption is selfish. I think it is selfless. (Not that you don’t gain something…because of course you are gaining the most wondeful gift in the world.) But whether you adopt or give birth biologically, parenting is a selfless process. It requires that you give everything of yourself, change, put your own ego aside, and care for another person with everything you are. I am so glad there are people in the world like you who are there to provide loving homes for children whose parents are not able to do so. You are awesome! PS I also have an award for you at my bloggy. Here it is:

  13. What an awesome story, especially for a new reader like me! I just found your blog from Organic Motherhood With Coolwhip (right above me), love to find and read new blogs! Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

  14. Not sure what I can add here (except a superfluous ‘you rock’). The kid was young and unworldly. I heard girls I went to school with say sanctimoniously, “I could never give my baby away”, which sounds nice but means essentially nothing, if you haven’t considered what being a teen-aged mother means in reality. The ‘easy’ way out would presumably be an abortion — having been pregnant, the thought of growing a child in my own body for nine months and then giving it away seems more heart-wrenching and self-sacrificing than almost any other act I can think of. I think your adoption triangle of love rings absolutely true.

  15. It’s so true that adoption is awe-inspiring. That student makes me roll my eyes; he must be friends with some of my students–so young and full of empty knowledge!
    Just wondering if you’ve seen the MTV show, “Sixteen and Pregnant” (and now “Teen Mom”), with the teen couple who had their daughter adopted. It was powerful, and they clearly had the most mature and clear-eyed perspective among their peers. I thought it was a wonderful presentation of adoption.
    Blessings to you!

  16. I love the pendant. I love what it stands for. And I love your story. As someone who has witnessed many times the failed adoption here in the U.S. you speak of, as well meeting women who had the strength and courage to make the heart wrenching, yet loving decision to give a child up for adoption, I couldn’t agree more. 🙂

  17. bloginsong

    The three people I know well who have been adopted, or adopted a child have had very positive experience….not counting the negative ones that come with every relationship at this intensity level! The adoptive parents have had horrible nights, utter despair with their teen children, rebellion, hospital visits etc… as well as sparkling moments of the clearest kind of love, laughing all day antics and such profound pride and joy. All the ingredients for a parent/child or child/parent relationship. Bio or Adoptive…. its all real! I will be sharing this with them right away.

  18. The pendant is beautiful Jane. Your student is soo young. Adoption is heroic all the way around. Only thru great love can a woman go thru pregnancy and give up her child. And only thru great love can you take the risk of being the parent to a child you have not carried. Which is the least part of all in parenting, as you well know. And your lucky LUCKY kids…
    Beautiful post.

  19. I just want to say I love you all! I am continually amazed at your beautiful souls. Whenever I post something near and dear to my heart you all pop in and say the sweetest things. Thank you for joining this conversation about adoption. As I said in my post I could go on and on about this topic. And from the responses here I think I’ll have to do just that – in the form of more posts, that is. Thank you, thank you for your support, encouragement, shared experiences and opinions.

  20. I wish more people thought like you!! I love the quote from Parenthood… sometimes, when I hear of a sh*itty parent beating/hurting their own children, I can’t help but think we should have a law requiring a license to procreate.

  21. Emily

    I realize this post is a few months old, but I just have to applaud your courage. It takes a lot of strength to be able to take in a child and raise it and love it like it was your own. I sincerely hope that student of yours who thinks there is no love in adoption never has to endure the pain of giving up a child. As a birthmom, it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and the proudest moment of my life when I watched the adoptive parents hold my/their son for the first time. There was only love in the room that day, from all parties involved.

  22. Amy

    I came across your blog searching for a visual of this symbol. I am a birthmother, my daughter is 19 years old and we have a little contact on Facebook, although the adoption was closed.

    I so enjoy viewing her pictures and came across a tattoo she got behind her ear. It was of the adoption triangle, and the symbolism behind it brought me to tears. The road to place her with her family may have been heartbreaking for me as a 20 year old, the memories and missed moments will never end, but the sacrifice was so worth it!

  23. becca

    Being an adopted child myself I can agree with your statement that the adoptive mom is not the only person who gains from adoption. I received a loving family with a mother and a father, as well as siblings. While I struggled with self-identity during my teenage years, I could not be more thankful for my biological mother’s decision to provide a home for me. Having other adopted people around me would have made the struggles easier; I was so grateful to hear that you have adopted two children. The support system they have in each other will be a blessing.
    God bless you for your decision to adopt and the wisdom to be honest and provide a support system for your children!

    • Thank you so much for sharing some of your adoption experience here on my blog. Your words are very encouraging to me and I appreciate you stopping by!

  24. Laura

    I am adopted and would love to know where you bought that pendant? I love it!!!

  25. Monica

    I really loved your story but what caught my eye was the pendant. I’m giving my son up for adoption to a wonderful and loving family and I would really like to have those necklaces for me and the adoptive mother. I can’t seem to find them anywhere though, where did you get yours?

    • We saw it featured in a magazine but couldn’t afford the price they were asking so my husband took the picture to a local jeweler and had it made for much less. Congratulations to you, your son and his adoptive family. What a loving gesture – giving the adoptive mom an important symbol of the love you all share. I wish you all the best and want to tell you, as an adoptive mom, how honored I am to connect with you.

  26. Maria

    Jane, I just stumbled on your article when researching the adoption symbol. When I was 12 I watched a documentary on Chinese orphanages…it was a hidden camera kind where the reality of many of those orphanages and the suffering those baby mostly girls endure. Since that day, adoption became so dear to my heart and I knew one day I would adopt. Now I’m 27 and recently was given the news that due to heart conditions I couldn’t become pregnant, I remember the Dr. was so careful when giving me the news and I smiled and told him to not feel sad that if he could give someone those news and it would be me. I saw it as I confirmation from God that adoption was the path for me. Like you, I love children but never imagined myself pregnant and at times felt something maybe was wrong…maybe I was too selfish. But that day I knew that it all made sense….I had felt that way my whole life for a reason.
    Thanks for sharing your story and I look forward to the day when I will too start as I call it my rainbow family with children from different parts of the world.

    • I love your attitude and outlook. It’s always been amazing to me how “bad” news to one person is just a “window opening another opportunity” to someone else. Adoption is an amazing journey and I know you are going to have a fantastic ride. Good luck with everything. It is a beautiful way to form a family.

  27. Sabrienna Edwards

    Every adoption story is so very unique. My brave daughter placed her baby girl in the loving arms of a beautiful family; with a Dad, Mom, and two siblings. She (we!) enjoy an open adoption. Yes, this family gained, but so has our daughter. She has peace knowing that her child is happy, healthy, and is loved beyond belief by her entire family. Our daughter has also gained a new path in life, more loving spirit, confidence in herself and five more family members! Thank you for sharing your story and considering the birth parents. Respectfully, a proud Mimsy.

  28. Lauren

    I too stumbled upon your blog post when searching the meaning of the adoption symbol. From a young age adoption was a very normal thing for me. My best friends family had adopted a little girl from Korea and she felt like my little sister. I knew deep in my heart that God was calling me to adopt but I seriously thought that it wasn’t going to happen, my ex husband wanted no part in it and then my current husband had his reservations. Would he “love” the child as much as if it were his “own” and the dreaded “it costs too much”. I have PCOS and knew that conception was going to be a miracle in itself. My husband was later on tested and he had a zero sperm count. We were devastated. I had already prepared myself for adoption and the fact that carrying a child may not be in God’s plan for me. Like you I wasn’t married to the idea of being pregnant, lol. I secretly celebrated when we received the results from his test then began praying for God to open his heart to adoption. Anytime I knew of someone who was adopting I would share of their story and their fundraising efforts. Then finally he said YES! I was OVER the moon excited and so happy. I literally felt like I had that positive pregnancy test! I too could not have handled the ups and downs of domestic adoption or foster to adopt so we chose Ethiopia. What your student said breaks my heart. I pray that our son will NEVER for one second think that his birth mother thought he was garbage. I hope to learn more of our son’s family and to maybe meet them someday. Thank you for sharing your story! Love the necklace!

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! I am so happy for you and your husband. What an exciting time for you all! Please stop back here to share your journey. I’d love to hear how everything is going. Blessings to you all!

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