Suggesting A New Image for Adoption

by Jaye Roth

Jaye blogs at Jaye’s Brain about “family, my 25 jobs, and brain cancer.”

After struggling through German Literature (The Song of the Nibelungs: A Verse Translation from the Middle High German, Hermann Hesse, that sort of thing;) and a single day of Russian Literature (you didn’t need a Swastika but I had the feeling it would have helped), I found my needed credits buried deep in the hidden pages of Shakespeare. I totally “got” the damned spot that the lady was trying to wash out, and even in my early 20’s I deeply understood that the “lady doth protest too much” was a lesson hand-made for me: the more I told people it didn’t matter to me, the more it appeared as if I did have something to hide.

I’m talking of course about my adoption (again).

I always thought adoption was kind of interesting in general–the way I find the difference between sushi (yummy) and cooked fish (gross) interesting. Everybody has an opinion.

In a similar way I found my brain surgery interesting: “All this would be fascinating if it weren’t happening to me.” There were certainly days that adoption felt like that.

Mostly, even in the challenging adolescent years, I felt that I was lucky to have my parents, George and Bernice, and that they were lucky to have me. There was a connection there that couldn’t be explained to others, and I gave up trying to explain it. I felt that the word “chosen” was a bunch of crap, but it was OK to say “wanted.” Chosen made me think of meat, hanging in the window at the local butcher. We didn’t talk gushy love stuff around the house too much, but it was understood that we were all on equal footing, and no one was chosen over the other.


Language for the practice of adoption often includes the popular terms “triangle” or “triad.” I have no issue with these terms designed to depict the bond between the birth mother, “child” and the adoptive mother. The family that is formed–the good, bad and ugly–will always have an asterisk by its name (in the hearts of some) like a steroid-injected major-league baseball player. That is why I used the popular multi-colored puzzle cube for my own adoption image: three sides just didn’t seem complete to me. Where the triad gets the conversation going, the cube adds room for deeper dimension and inclusiveness.


My personal cube illustrating my top thoughts about my family starts with my earliest memories, my middle sister (mother to two adopted children, domestic and international) and my lost sibling. An entire side of my cube would have to be devoted to Helen, who lived less than two days. My mother told me this story when I was much too young to understand what she was saying. Unlike my“chosen story,” which was repeated over and over again, I never heard this tale from her again. I remember it as “mother couldn’t have the baby (physically forced to delay giving birth until a doctor could arrive). Involuntary manslaughter by today’s standards? Perhaps. Rather than dismiss this drama as a sad thing that happened before my time, I have come to see it as integral to the family story.

When you twist the cube, you get all sorts of possibilities. Often you can’t get it back to the original colors and patterns. Sometimes you get aggravated and throw the cube against the wall. (Oh wait. That’s me). For some people, it is easy to solve. There are, of course, more sides to some stories than others; I like the image of the cube as a way to begin breaking away from the idea that adoption only affects three people. Adoption affects the world, one family at a time.


  1. Remarkable post. I love how direct it is, and how directly it shares your adoption experience.

    I also agree that we need a new image for adoption. “Triad” and “plane” don’t work for me, “constellation” gets a little closer to the image in my mind but still isn’t there. I’m going to try the rubic’s cube for awhile and see where it takes my head.


  2. Jaye! I’m so glad I saw this post here. I absolutely LOVE your rubix cube analogy. That is such a perfect way to describe the unknown. Fantastic post!

    • Thank you both for your kind comments. I fret about being too direct sometimes, so it is nice to get the compliment, and nice that the post is taking your head somewhere…you’ll have to keep us posted where it leads you. (Feels Carole King song queuing up in the background). 🙂

  3. So interesting – three sides doesn’t seem like enough, does it? I think it is so interesting that you accept what happened before your arrival as integral to the family story. It is so true that as parents, where we are in life and our reasons for adoption are a huge part of the adopted child’s story, though the child may not recognize it as such until years later, and unfortunaly some parents never recognize it either. Adoption is not formed in a vacuum, and it is not a static element. Thanks for sharing this!

    • I like how you’ve said this: “…interesting that you accept what happened before your arrival as integral to the family story”—i never understood how anybody gets by without thinking about these things, adopted or not! I just think (we) tend to think about them a bit more!

  4. I like it. An evolving puzzle that changes with each new piece of information or new understanding.

  5. This is a really beautiful piece. Thank you!

  6. These are lovely thoughts, Jay! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me and the world. 🙂


  1. […] Suggesting A New Image for Adoption ( […]

  2. […] the last few months I’ve read a number of blogs and blog comments that reflect every colour on the adoption Rubiks Cube. There are those who are opposed to all adoption and those who want adopters to be compelled to […]

  3. […] and if you haven’t, please read my post about the puzzle cube, originally posted here:  It was inspired by a family of bloggers who share a wide variety of thoughts and opinions on the […]

  4. […] This article was originally published here, where my friend Luanne ( added her beautiful background […]

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