Adoption Symbolism & Superstitions

For many people in the adoption community, “fate” is often emphasized in conversations concerning parents and children coming together. Usually the belief is that children are connected to their forever parents by God’s will, fate, or even luck for some. Of course not everyone believes in these,  but here are a few entities of symbolism within the adoption community, much of which has come from Asian culture where adoption is extraordinarily prevalent.

Ladybugs

Ladybugs are a symbol of good fortune and happiness in many cultures. It is said that if one lands on you, the number of spots on this little friend may represent many things–from the number of children you will have, to the months you will wait for love to find you. In true Asian tradition, it’s believed that if you catch and release a Ladybug she will fly to your true love and whisper your name in his/her ear; your true love will then come running to your side.

According to many beliefs, if a ladybug lands on you it means that several good fortunes are coming your way. A new love interest, pregnancy or passion may be on the horizon. A visit from a ladybug will bring you good fortune at happiness.

In the Chinese adoption community, ladybugs have a specific and special meaning. It has been said that if you see a ladybug, your referral will be coming very soon.

The Invisible Red Thread

An old Chinese proverb regarding fate between people reads, “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break.”

This legend of the “Invisible Red Thread” has become popular among families adopting, especially from China. For many adoptive parents, even before they begin to pursue adoption, this legend is comforting. The belief is that children are “tied to parents” long before the adoption process begins. Rest assured that–despite the distance, legalities, wait, and costs—fate will unite parents with their child. Red in color, the thread is also a symbol of happiness and good fortune. The sacred red color represents luck, hence its use for most festive occasions in Chinese culture.

Dragonflies

Now this symbolism in adoption has been debated. There is little factual evidence identifying where this symbol came from in regards to adoption. Regardless, some believe that the dragonfly represents adoption positively in the Vietnamese & Japanese culture. Dragonflies have long been a favorite symbol of strength among Japanese warriors. As a creature of the wind, the dragonfly often represents change as well. In Japan, dragonflies have been used as symbols of courage, strength, and happiness. You can see how this may translate into a representation of children adopted from these cultures.

Adoption Triad

A less conceptual symbol is the adoption triad. You will hear this word “triad” in regards to a relationship between all three sides of an adoption: birth family, adoptive family, and adoptee. The adoption triad is represented by a triangle (each of the three sides of an adoption).  A heart is intertwined with the triangle to represent the love in the relationship between the three.

Have you heard of any other adoption symbolism or superstitions? We would love to hear them. AlexandraP@afth.org

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2 responses to “Adoption Symbolism & Superstitions

  1. Great article Alexandra! I like the ladybug symbolism. 🙂

  2. Why are ladybugs associated with China adoption? Many adoption websites, books, announcements, and other items feature ladybugs. Interestingly enough, this has no roots in Chinese culture (although they are red). The basic story is this: Several years ago in China, as the international adoption programs were beginning to take off, there was a fall season where the ladybug population grew unusually large. This was thought to be a lucky charm for those that were adopting. So now whenever ladybugs are seen, it is said that more beautiful children are being referred to wonderful waiting parents.

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