Although it’s still relatively unknown, there’s a growing awareness of an unofficial adoption symbol. It’s lovely — a triangle intertwined with a heart. Those who have been blessed by adoption want to honor their journey in a meaningful way. They have used the symbol of adoption to share their love for open adoption.
For many people, this symbol represents what they call the “adoption triad” or adoption triangle. The three points of the triangle represent the child (at the top), the birth family, and the adoptive parents. The heart intertwined represents the love involved in the relationship of adoption! (The adoption symbol notwithstanding, some people call the triad the adoption circle.)
Still, while these terms remain common in the world of adoption in general and open adoption in particular, others prefer to use the phrase extended family of adoption or, perhaps more poetically, the adoption constellation.
Connected by Open Adoption
However one chooses to label the interconnectivity and personal relationships between the birth parents, their child, and the child’s adoptive family, the adoption symbol itself and the equal sides of the triangle capture something profound. They are symbols of one of the most loving decisions a human being can make.
First, it honors the birth mother’s choice to begin making an adoption plan. There are many reasons why women choose adoption since every birth mother is unique. But regardless of her reason for placing her child for adoption, the mother is firmly established among the adoption triad.
Next, the adoptive parents earn their position in the adoption constellation by opening their homes, lives, and extended network of friends and family to a child waiting for adoption.
The Three Sides of the Adoption Triad
When you began the adoption process, you might have imagined the day you’ll hold your baby in your arms. You see life with a child to love, family portraits with parents and children, and imagine future family vacations in your minds’ eye. But it’s important to remember where a birth mother may fit into this story.
Lifetime encourages you to recognize that everyone in the adoption triad plays a role in establishing a healthy, safe life for the child. But that doesn’t mean a birth mother should have unchecked access to you and your child. Understanding what each party should (and should not) contribute to the triad is an essential first step.
The three sides of the adoption symbol may, at times, feel like a delicate balance. However, by understanding what healthy boundaries look like and hearing everyone’s point of view, fitting everyone into their roles in the adoption triad will result in positive outcomes.
This part of the adoption triad has a prominent role: providing daily care, love, and support for the child. As parents, they’re entirely responsible for the child from a medical, financial, and emotional standpoint.
Adoptive parents are also responsible for helping their children develop healthy self-esteem related to adoption. This means being open and honest from the beginning that the child was adopted. It means sharing age appropriately, of course, that the child’s birth parents created this adoption plan to provide the best life possible for them.
Perhaps most importantly, adoptive parents should fully understand that curiosity or questions about birth parents are not a statement that they are unhappy with their lives. It is natural to be curious about where we come from. Addressing these issues openly and honestly is always best.
Adoptive parents have a great responsibility to honor the commitment they made to the birth parents regarding ongoing contact. If you agreed to send pictures and letters, send them. If you agreed to visits, then schedule them. Open adoption is a relationship built on trust, and the more proactive you are in maintaining it, the less opportunity it will have to get awkward.
It’s likely that someday if contact doesn’t happen, your child may search for their birth parents. You don’t want your child to hear from a birth parent that you promised to keep in touch with them and then didn’t.
Birth parents are a very important piece of the adoption triad. They’ll always have a biological connection to their child, but at the same time, they need to honor the boundaries the adoptive parents may place. It can be hard to manage expectations at times if they think, for instance, that the child would still call them “Mom” and “Dad.” However, gentle conversations and understanding can help them understand that the child is not confused, but having two sets of parents might be.
You may find that birth parents have made some negative life decisions after placement. If you are ever concerned about your child’s safety, it is acceptable to reset the boundaries. However, just because some choices are not things you may approve of, don’t change the agreement. And always express your concern and hope for them that they get back to a positive place.
Children deserve the truth, provided to them in a manner they can understand. As your child gets older, you may share more of their adoption story and answer their questions. When you present the truth from the beginning, a child is not confused about who they are or where they came from. If parents wait to tell their child they were adopted, there’s a great shock and potential for relationships to crumble.
Part of loving your child is loving where they came from, and that includes their birth mother. It may be hard to do, but embracing your child means embracing the challenges you may feel when your child expresses curiosity. It will demonstrate to your child that you are not afraid of the subject, and they will continue to entrust you with their thoughts and questions.
At Lifetime Adoption, we’ve been helping families come together for open adoptions since 1986. As a domestic adoption agency, we help build families with our extensive network of birth parents and families waiting to adopt. We provide valuable and timely resources, and we are very successful at forging connections that lead to happy adoptions after a child’s birth.
Our work is well represented by the adoption symbol. You’ll notice that the triangle has equal sides, meaning that all three groups in the triad share equally in the open adoption process.
I’d like to offer you a free download of the adoption symbol! To download the adoption symbol artwork you see pictured here, click on it, and you’ll be taken to a download page. Please share this article with others to let them know where you found this delightful symbol of adoption! You can find the adoption symbol in artwork, jewelry, clothing, tattoos, and other formats.
If you’d like to learn more about how Lifetime Adoption can help you realize your dream of adopting a baby, browse our website or call us at 727-493-0933. Then, take the first step today and complete Lifetime’s free online application to adopt!
What will your adoption symbol look like? A beautiful symbol of adoption that many Christian adoptive mothers enjoy is an Adoption Prayer Bracelet. This adoption jewelry makes a wonderful gift for anyone touched by adoption! An adoption bracelet can serve as a lovely reminder to pray not only for your adoption journey but also for the women considering adoption, their baby, and all who have been touched by adoption.
Adoption Prayer Bracelets are gorgeous, one-of-a-kind jewelry to signify and declare your love for adoption. There are two styles to choose from and many stylish color schemes. You might even consider purchasing an Adoption Prayer Bracelet for a child’s birth mom. This simple, precious gift honors all who travel the miraculous path toward adoption.
Best of all, each Adoption Prayer Bracelet is handmade and arrives in a pretty gift bag. Included with your purchase is a gorgeously-designed prayer card that you can personalize for your gift recipient.
Other Styles and Details
On the original style bracelets, there’s a special engraved charm attached. It says “My Adoption Prayer” on the front and “Pray Without Ceasing” from 1 Thessalonians 5:17 on the back.
The new bangle-style bracelets have two types of charms to choose from! One option has the Thessalonians verse mentioned above, and the other option reads, “The Lord bless you and keep you – Numbers 6:24.” The charm with the Numbers verse is a style that adoptive couples often choose to give to the birth mother as a special gift.
“My Adoption Prayer bracelet is such a precious reminder to pray for our adoption. Not only for us but for our future birth mother and all those who are on the same adoption journey as us. Wearing my bracelet and knowing that it was handmade with love encourages me that I am not alone in our journey and that waiting on God in this process is such a special place to be.”
— Adoptive mother, Rebekah.
All proceeds from sales of these bracelets benefit the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Lifetime Foundation. This nonprofit adoption organization assists women who are thinking about adoption and provides basic necessities to those in need. The Lifetime Adoption Foundation also provides birth mother scholarships and adoption grants.
Shop for adoption jewelry online at AdoptionPrayerBracelet.com.
Do you have an adoption symbol tattoo, piece of jewelry, artwork, or shirt? Share a photo of it with us in the comments!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on October 9, 2014.
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”
Not all birth mothers make an adoption plan. Some lose their children due to abuse or neglect. Or, the children are placed in orphanages. In many cases, only a small percentage of the children in orphanages are ever adopted. That is the situation with my adopted daughter. That said, her birth mother did choose life for her when abortion would have been a simpler answer for her. She loved her daughter (mine now) enough to carry her to term, give birth, and attempt to parent her for 3 weeks. That means a lot. If my now adult daughter wanted a tattoo, I hope she’d get one like this.
Thank you for sharing your adoption story! While adoption looks different around the world, orphanages have been replaced by foster care in the US.
In cases of abuse or neglect in the US, Child Protective Services (CPS) will step in the situation and place the child in the foster care system. So, if a mother is in a situation that might cause CPS to remove her children from her home, we encourage her to learn about modern adoption. With modern, open adoption, these mothers can choose the adoptive parents for their child and remain in contact in the future, choices that are not possible once their child is in the system.