Ladybugs, Red Threads & Unicorn Farts

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My recent posts about adoption have been dark.  You can read the 3 part series on adoption disruption herehere, and here.

For our family, adoption has been a huge blessing – twice. There has been joy. There has been laughter. There have also been tears and stress and days where I’m not sure how I made it through.

Adoption has been a wonderful thing for our family. I can’t imagine a life without Doodlebug and Peanut. I wouldn’t want to try. But yeah, there is a less rosy side to adoption. I think we hide our heads in the sand when it comes to talking about unpleasantness. Because it's…well, unpleasant.

Being willing to talk about things that make people  uncomfortable doesn’t mean I have regrets about our adoptions. I don’t. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. But, adoption is not all ladybugs, red threads and unicorn farts. Now, what exactly does that mean?

Ladybugs and red threads are common themes in China adoption. Lots of China adoption blogs have the words “ladybug” or “red thread” somewhere in the blog title or graphics.

What do ladybugs have to do with China, you ask? I am not a bug expert, but I am pretty sure ladybugs exist everywhere in the world and are not exclusive to China. Supposedly, when China first partnered with the U.S. for adoption in the late nineties there was a larger than normal amount of ladybugs in Guangzhou (city in southern China where all U.S. citizens complete adoptions). Because of that, the ladybug became a symbol for China adoption. Kinda sweet, huh? Maybe the finger in your mouth roll your eyes kind of sweet, but sweet just the same.

The color red represents luck and happiness in China. Ladybugs are red (duh) and cute (subjective). Since most kids adopted from China during the 90’s and in the early 21st century were girls, the cute ladybug was an ideal symbol to represent China adoption. If you are a mom with a girl adopted from China and your kid has never owned ladybug stuff, she is in the minority.

The “red thread” story is based on an “ancient Chinese legend” (I know this because it says so on Wikipedia). There are several variations of the red thread story, but in a nutshell, an invisible red thread is said to connect 2 people destined to meet. The thread may stretch and tangle but never break. The ancient Chinese story refers to lovers or soul mates, but adopting families have used it as a nice analogy of their connection to their child from the other side of the world, particularly poignant during the adoption wait.

In the inner circle of waiting China families, a ladybug sighting is thought to mean a family is soon to be “matched” with a child or that getting over the next paperwork hurdle was imminent. Hey…the waiting sucks. You do what you can to make it less sucky. If that means attaching significance to a bug sighting, so be it. Who’s to say it isn’t true?

If you look realllly close, you'll see a ladybug on this wooden pear sculpture thingy
If you look realllly close, you'll see a ladybug on this wooden pear sculpture thingy

Ladybugs and red threads are happy, positive symbols of adoption. Many people who post on adoption forums have variations of the word “ladybug” and “red thread” in their screen names. Two of the established companies that send care packages to waiting kids in China are called “Ladybugs ‘n Love” and “Red Thread China”. Go figure. I have nothing against ladybugs and red threads. I actually think the red thread story is sort of cool. If we ever adopt a girl from China it would be safe to assume that she’d have some ladybug stuff (although I wouldn’t go OTT with it).

I’m not poking fun at the happy symbols of China adoption (much). I am just taking a minute to explain what they are because I may have another couple of posts up my sleeve that aren’t all sunshine and roses. Or ladybugs and red threads.

So what about the unicorn farts? I just threw that in there because it made me giggle.


Unicorn farts and marshmallow cream is more fun to say that sunshine and roses. While I have never made the acquaintance of a gassy unicorn, it would totally make sense that unicorn farts are right up there with ladybugs and red threads.  Hey, reality sucks sometimes.  Don't we all need a good laugh here and there.

Until next time.

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