Jackie Gillard: Conceived in my Heart


The Adoption Triad: The Shape of My Valentine

How I Define This Shape for My Family

Valentine's Day is coming, so right now, it's all about THE LOVE! Who do you put in your love basket for Valentine's Day?  For me, it's my daughter, her birth mother, my stepson, my husband, my parents and brother and my close friends. 

"Huh?" you say? Yep, her birth mother. I love her. I've never met or communicated with her, but I love her anyway. 

She is a part of our family, as much as my daughter is. In adoption, the child, the birth mother/family and the adoptive family are each an integral component of what some people refer to as the adoption triad, which is often represented by a triangle shape. Everyone involved in adoption sees this triangle differently — some even refuse to acknowledge its existence, and that's ok — but I like to see this complex relationship in a little different shape than a triangle. 

My adoption triad doesn't have any sides that are greater than the others, no sides ending and no sides smaller or less important. Oh sure, if you examine each part of the adoption triad under a specific topic, then often one side or even two, will have greater meaning under the context of that topic.

Take loss, for example. I would never dare to compare my losses — loss of fertility, loss of genetic links to my child, loss of the pregnancy, birth experience and first eighteen months of my child's life — to the losses that my daughter and her birth mother have experienced. Their losses are immeasurable, so there is no comparison.

However, we don't always focus on our losses. Sometimes there is also joy. Anger. Sadness. Curiosity. All of our emotions in the adoption triad are fluid, flexible, constantly changing. I liken my triad to that of a sort of round table. There is no head of the table, no leader, no sides, no lines to cross. So is my love for my daughter and her birth mother — we are all in this together, in our triad. Each of us doing our parts in creating a child, birthing a child, being a child, mothering a child, loving a child and having her love those around her as well as her absent birth family.

My daughter loves her birth mother. I know a time will come where she feels so many more complex layers of emotions towards the woman who gave birth to her, but I hope that through all of them, she will continue to anchor herself in the love her birth mother had for her, and the love she feels towards her birth mother now. 

So, for Valentine's Day, and all days, I will take our adoption triad and create my own shape to incorporate all of the people involved: