Since adoption is no longer the secretive world it once was, the adoption symbol is proudly displayed on clothing, jewelry, tattoos, journal covers, hats...

Adoption Symbol

The recognized symbol for adoption is an intertwined triangle and heart. The triangle represents the 3 sides of adoption: birth family, adopting family, and the adoptee. The heart represents love and the bond the three sides of the triangle share. This symbol is often displayed in art, tattoos, jewelry, and sometimes clothing. The symbol is meant to honor all three sides of the adoption triad. I honestly had no idea this symbol existed until after I had completed my first adoption process.

The principle of the adoption triad (that birth and adoptive parents work together with the adoptee to create a family for him or her to thrive in) is vital to making the adoption process work, and it’s crucial to filling an adoptee’s life with the endless love that makes adoption special. 

The birth family who is choosing an adoption plan for their child is showing incredible courage and unwavering love for the child. The parents who are adopting the child are agreeing to love unconditionally, care for selflessly, and provide for this child devotedly throughout his or her life. The adoptee is receiving all the love, care, and consideration these adults carefully plan to give him or her. 

Therefore, combining a heart and a triangle is a wonderful way to symbolize and honor adoption.

Triangles have long represented the three sides of adoption, which is referred to as the adoption triad.  It is said that the top point of the triangle represents the adoptee, while the bottom points represent the birth parents and adoptive parents. The type of triangle used is an equilateral triangle, making all sides equal. The significance of the adoptee taking the top point is to symbolize the birth and adoptive parents placing the adoptee’s interests above their own interests. The child and his or her well-being should always be the primary concern in adoption. 

Hearts are the shape traditionally associated with love. Intertwining a heart with the adoption triad reminds us that adoption is more than a business contract. Adoption is the creation of a legal family in a way that constitutes a loving family. What value is there in a birth parent sacrificing a life with their child if that child won’t be loved just as much by their adoptive parents? It’s not easy, but with conscious effort and consistency, an adoptee can feel enveloped in love by their adoptive parents, and their birth parents too, depending on the circumstances. 

Birth and adoptive parents may struggle and conflict with each other at times. They, too, must be able to heal and accept their roles within adoption. This is often a fluctuating lesson, one that is often inconsistent. Some days it is easier to accept than others. This is all part of the process and the healing journey of adoption. The adoptee and his or her best interests need to be the top priority, even when parents find it difficult because of their own personal feelings or insecurities. 

As we move forward over the years, adoption has become much more open. Many more adoptees are able to know and have relationships with their birth family after the adoption is finalized. There is no longer a secretive cloud surrounding the adoption process like there used to be. Adoptees are able to know names, and sometimes maintain relationships with their birth families. The equilateral triangle does a good job representing the open and equal parts of the adoption triad. 

Since adoption is no longer the secretive world it once was, the adoption symbol is proudly displayed on clothing, jewelry, tattoos, journal covers, hats, and even stickers. With the increased social acceptance of adoption, people are now more comfortable displaying their love for and involvement with the adoption community. The symbol is a conversation starter to help educate and share about adoption related topics. 

When looking for gifts to give to those involved in adoptive relationships, the adoption symbol may be something to consider. You can find many gifts here if you are looking for adoption related items. I really love the silver adoption symbol necklace I was gifted with. 

The adoption symbol is a good way to meet others within the adoption community. If you see someone who is wearing the symbol, you can probably safely assume they are somehow part of an adoption triad. You can start a conversation by pointing out the symbol and asking how it relates to them. It is always good to find others within the adoption community to form friendships with. Adoption has so many emotional sides to it that it is comforting to find others who can understand your point of view and who can sympathize, give relevant advice, or provide feedback. Bringing up adoption topics can be tricky if you are not sure that someone else will understand it. So, this symbol is one way people who have similar stories and backgrounds can be brought together. This symbol is discreet enough that those who are unfamiliar with it will not question it; meanwhile those who do understand it can share a moment of unity with you. It is a way to connect without having to be overly vocal or share details. It is also a way of connecting that could result in a wonderful friendship where stories and feelings about the adoption journey can be safely and freely shared. You could find a great support system by simply wearing or displaying the symbol of adoption. 

The symbol is subtle enough that it is well-received if you wear it. If someone were to ask about its significance, you could tell them about the adoption triad the triangle represents and the love to and from all parts of that triad the heart represents. However, the simple design of the symbol does not always result in questions. If you are wanting to start a discussion, you may need to be forward and share. At other times, we may not feel like we want to delve into our stories or our relationship with adoption. It is okay to just thank a person for noticing and move on with our day.

Adoption being a more accepted topic does not mean we always wish to talk about our stories. There is nothing wrong with letting someone know if you do not feel like sharing. Some days are just easier than others. 

I find myself feeling more connected to adoption around anniversaries of adoption dates, like Mother’s Day, birthdays, and holidays. These are occasions where I may choose to honor my role in adoption by wearing necklaces or jewelry that contain the adoption symbol. Not everyone who sees it will understand the connection, but some do. 

Sometimes, when I find it harder to share my connection, or I find myself feeling like adoption is more difficult to cope with than it is on other days, I will wear my necklace with the adoption symbol. It serves as a personal reminder to be gentle with myself and my feelings. It can remind me that struggling sometimes is okay, and I shouldn’t judge myself harshly. 

The adoption symbol reminds me I am not alone; I’m on my personal journey, but there are more involved in their own journeys, and there is an entire adoption community. I am not the only person who struggles at times. I am also not the only one who finds some days to be easier than others. Every day, there is a whole community of people who are so joyous about adoption that they want to tell everyone, who are feeling like they just want to hold it tight to their chests, or who are feeling somewhere in between. It depends on the day, and there is nothing wrong with that. 

Even when I struggle, the symbol helps me remember there is no longer the same stigma that once existed. Today, we can choose whether to keep our stories to ourselves or to share. However, today, most adoptees are aware of their adoptions and birth family. Therefore, keeping things to ourselves usually isn’t done in a secretive manner. It is usually just kept to ourselves and family and friends. But we no longer feel like we have to hide things from those close to us, and that is comforting. 

The fact that there is a symbol to acknowledge the adoption community is comforting as well. Adoption touches so many lives. It is wonderful to know we can express that we are part of the adoption community without having to say a word. 

Many groups are able to share their connections through symbols. Religious symbols are a specific category that comes to mind. If you see a person wearing a cross, a star, a depiction of a saint, or something like that, you can make an educated guess that they believe a certain way, or consider themselves part of a certain religious group. 

Music and band logos are another example of how symbols may be used to connect through similar likes and hobbies. 

Companies and schools create logos they can put on merchandise to promote their business and to help connect people they have something in common with. 

And, of course, sports teams have symbols, logos, and mascots; all of those are used to show who belongs to the fanbase of a team, as well as promote and advertise them. When you find others who share your love for your team, you are suddenly cheering together. You may not know each other, but you see that jersey or hat, and you feel like you are united in something. You are part of one team. 

Seeing someone with the adoption symbol suggests they are part of the adoption team. It helps you to find those who would likely share similar ideas of family. Being part of a community is something those in adoption relationships bring up a lot. Because adoption is such a grueling, often time-consuming, and emotional journey, it feels good to find friends who have shared similar circumstances who can relate to your situation. It is difficult for someone who is not part of the adoption community to truly understand the paperwork, the meetings, the waits, and the sleepless nights we go through in the adoption process. 

However, when you see someone displaying the adoption symbol, connecting themselves to the adoption community, you know they understand what you have gone through. You know they have been part of the emotional adoption rollercoaster, whether it was as an adoptive parent, birth parent, or as an adoptee themselves. Whichever part of the triad they belong to, this is a person who you will likely feel an instant connection to just because of life circumstances. Finding your community is important. Realizing you are not alone in the often stressful journey of adoption is important. It is good to make connections, find support, and share with others who can understand. You may make friends from other sides of the triad, and gain new perspectives you didn’t have before. You may even be able to help someone else understand your perspective better as well. 

If you are part of the adoption community, and feel open to talk about it, you may want to consider some adoption symbol merchandise. Your openness to declare yourself as part of this community might help someone else when you least expect it. You never know if someone is having a rough day, and seeing that someone else relates to them could help them power through it. Maybe they are struggling to prepare for home visits. Maybe they are stressing over completing paperwork. Maybe they are wondering if they picked the right parent profile. Maybe it is an anniversary day for them of a placement or an adoption, and they are feeling emotional. Sometimes, the tiny reminder that this is a community, and that they are not dealing with these things alone, is all it takes to help someone move through a challenging moment in the journey and feel validated during those hard moments. 

Everyone in the adoption community has moments of struggle, and moments of joy. I find that those of us who have traversed this path tend to be empathetic people who will genuinely help those in need and will support others during highs and lows. Community is key, and the adoption symbol helps you find your community.

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Jennifer Kaldwell

Jennifer is a mother to 3 children (one biological, two adopted). She is also a mom to numerous pets. She enjoys volunteering in her children's classroom, reading, and crafting in her spare time. She has been married for almost 15 years.