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Adoption Pentagon- terminology

Over the course of this blogging, I’ve had to rework or outright create new pieces of language to describe concepts core to the Bastard experience.

As with any human rights political movement, Bastards often find themselves confined and defined by language no rooted in their own perceptions of the world around them.

Constructing new and more accurate terminology to address those failures and linguistic constraints placed upon us then, is an inherently political act. An act by which one rejects the constructs defined by others external to Class Bastard, or even outdated previous means of describing adoptee reality and instead embracing a Bastard-centric lexicon that more accurately reflects what we ourselves, as a Class experience.

I’ve been using the term “Adoption Pentagon” since somewhere well before 2003, when I presented on it at Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization’s 6th annual conference, Show Me My Records held in St. Louis, Mo.

At approximately the same time, Ron Morgan also came up with his concept of “The Five Legged Stool.”

My “pentagon” was a response to the endless parroting of the term “adoption triad” which while useful to the industry and the state, is hardly a useful means for Bastards to envision their situations.

Instead, the Adoption Pentagon reflects the full range of parties/interests in and to the adoption:


  • The Parents
  • The Bastard
  • The Adopters
  • A full range of industry and industrialist/careerist related positions: agencies,  lawyers, facilitators, intermediaries, lobbyists, social workers, adoption promoters/marketers, maternity camps, the commercial and non-commercial search industries, therapists (including junk psuedo-science “counselors,”) adoption ministries, etc.
  • & The State

Though mind you, any number of these positions may also overlap. An adopter may also be a Judge, a Bastard may go on to be become a legislator, a parent may go on to become a professional adoption marketer. This can lead to any number of either ethically disclosed potential conflicts of interest (possibly resulting in individuals recusing themselves) or disingenuously utilizing one’s position without disclosing that potential conflict of interest.

I should note from the outset one of the many limitations of the diagram, though.

Equal sided and angled pentagons may lead the reader to infer a set of equal power relationships in perfect balance, when nothing could be further from the truth.

With that basic form and the caveat always in mind, then, there are a number of different ways to conceptualize the adoption pentagon. To share just a couple of quick examples:

  • One can envision the alleged “triad” as the top three points of the pentagon, with the two other points, representing both the State and the industry/careerists as intentionally hidden below a waterline:


  • Or one can simply work with the metaphor that those closest to the top hold much of the power in these relationships, and invert the pentagon, once again, placing the state and the industry/careerists at the top:


  • All too often, that adoption pentagon in practice, looks more like this:


Which is not to imply that each of the “triad puppets” has equal power, access to resources, or ability to control their circumstances relating to the adoption itself, as adopters are often in a far more advantageous position when compared in relation to the amount of control retained by both parents and adoptees.

Adopters after all, despite being manipulated in a variety of ways, are still ultimately the driving engine behind the adoption market itself (or at least their cash is.)

To explore my further elaborations upon the term “adoption pentagon,” please see my adoption pentagon tag, each of the posts thereupon contain at least a brief discussion of or utilization of the term.

This post, “Expendables”- the human toll of legislation that “compromises” us away, in particular goes into some detail relating to my rejection the so called “triad” as a false and information hiding psuedo-structure, a device used to hide the long term interests of those with genuine power.

As well as the critical strategic importance of embracing models that more accurately represent who holds genuine power, rather than maintaining any notion of the squabbling betwixt the all too often relatively powerless positions in the mis-labled triad, as such only serves to continue to hide the other players and their interests, and provides an all too convenient distraction.

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