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Adoption Blog: My Paperwork Pregnancies

My Adoption Tattoo

It's almost that time of year when you are able to see your friends, neighbors, and strangers in their bathing suits. I always enjoy gawking at them. I swear, I'm not checking out their bodies -- I'm checking out their tattoos. Most tattoos are hidden under clothes for most of the year, but are out for all to see in swimsuit season.

Why do I like to look at tattoos? Mainly it's because I'm fascinated to see what designs people have chosen to permanently adorn their bodies. Perhaps a tattoo honors someone who died. Or it reflects part of their history. Or it's just something that's near and dear to their heart. Or they lost a bet.

Another reason I like to look at tattoos is for inspiration. I've secretly wanted to get one for years, but I could never think of a design. It's a big decision. What tattoo would keep me happy for the rest of my life?>

Just a few months ago, my husband and I were in Florida, vacationing as a couple for our 15-year anniversary (I know he will make me happy for the rest of my life). We were in a small beach community with a few tattoo parlors, and I once again was thinking about what would be the best design for me.

Then it hit me. The one thing which changed my life for the better and I'll always be happy with is adoption. I know other people who have adoption tattoos such as the adoption triad, the flag of their child's birth country, or the names of their children (and possibly birthparents). I immediately knew I wanted something to represent my children's birth state of Texas.

For the past few years I have been writing a personal adoption blog titled "Three Yellow Roses." The number "three" is for my three children from newborn, domestic adoption. The "yellow rose" is from the folksong "Yellow Rose of Texas." I've had the answer for my perfect adoption tattoo for quite a while, without realizing it.

Without tipping off my husband to my idea, I went into a tattoo parlor and consulted with the tattoo artist to come up with the beautiful design of a single yellow rose. My children's initials appear in the vines surrounding it. It's not a small design; I thought it should be big, as things from Texas are bigger and better. At least, that is what I've been told by every Texan I've ever met.

As for location, I wanted the tattoo placed where people could see it and ask about it. My family already draws attention, because we are a transracial adoptive family. Even if my children aren't with me, I'm still very comfortable sticking out as an adoptive mom. In fact, I am hoping this tattoo sparks conversations about adoption, as it's a topic I love to discuss.

I chose to have it placed just directly above my left ankle. It will be noticeable whenever I'm wearing shorts or a skirt. And it can peek out from under my pant leg in the cold weather months. Just like a Texan is proud to display her state flag anywhere (car windows, t-shirts, hats, etc.), I was going to be just as proud about this tattoo.

A few hours after designing my tattoo, I drove my husband to the parlor and told him about my evening plans. He was very happy with my choices and thought my tattoo was very beautiful and appropriate for me. He was also thrilled not to be the one who was getting inked.

When the young tattoo artist was prepping me, he asked how I was with needles. I laughed and said, "I went through years of infertility treatments. I'm good." He looked at me like I spoke another language. After the actual tattooing began, he asked how I was doing with the pain level. Again I chuckled and replied, "I get laser hair removal thanks to my PCOS. This is nothing in comparison." And again, he looked at me like I had two heads.

In the end, the tattoo came out wonderfully. When I called home and told my children that I got a tattoo they were shocked that their "old" mom did something so cool. Once I told them it was a yellow rose, they said, "Awww...that's awesome!" because they knew that it represented Texas, their birth state. After they found out their initials were in it, too, they were thrilled. It obviously meant a lot to them that I made a permanent decision to display how proud I am to be an adoptive mother.

In the months since, they have asked me to show the tattoo off to their friends. As I do, my children tell them, "It's a yellow rose because I was born in Texas. And look, there are my initials!" More than once, though, my children have asked me how painful the tattooing process was. I try to keep a straight face and reply in my "mom" voice that, "Oh, yes, it hurt so much. You should wait until you are pretty old before even considering doing something so painful." I'm hoping they'll believe me!

The weather is finally getting warmer, and I'm happy in my shorts and bare feet. My tattoo is obvious, and I love it. Now I'll be one of the people I used to scrutinize at the swim park. Perhaps someone will approach me to ask about my new ink. I'll be more than happy to share why I chose my design -- to represent the beauty of my adoptions.

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I love this idea! I’ve been thinking about an adoption tattoo myself but had no idea what it should depict other than somehow incorporating my sons’ names or initials.  But the idea of using something to represent the state where they were born is a great one.  They both were born in Oklahoma.

By sacohe on Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm.

I had a hard time deciding on what tattoo design I wanted to represent our family also. I didn’t want anything too Chinese, so I thought of things that remind me of my kids. I’ve always called my daughter Sunshine, my son has been through casting and surgeries for club foot and the little guy never slowed down, my husband is the slow and steady voice of reason grin
So water with a turtle, bamboo and beautiful sun it will be!

By Reagan on Friday, April 19, 2013 at 1:27 pm.

I love the idea of an adoption tattoo. It’s a loving way to celebrate your child’s or children’s birthplace, heritage, and culture. It’s a tribute to where they came form and where they are now. I have been going through the adoption process for three years now and ever since I started the process I knew I wanted a tattoo to celebrate my daughters adoption. My husband and I are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia and I know that when she is finially home with us I will get my tattoo. A tattoo to celebrate her heritage and culture. Most of all a tattoo to celebrate our everlasting love for her. It will be well worth the pain.

By Dmsmith on Friday, April 19, 2013 at 2:30 pm.

i just did this last week and then saw your post today!  i also blogged about it today at

i got my son’s first initial and LOVE it!

By mommy2k on Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 2:40 pm.

Very cool mommy2k.  I love the font of the “K”.  Very pretty and meaningful!

By Danielle Pennel on Friday, May 17, 2013 at 7:20 pm.

my wife and I adopted our two daughters from foster care and we are in the process of adopting their bio sister. I had never wanted a tattoo and always said there was nothign in the world I would ever want to tattoo on me. Well thank God my daughters came along and gave me reason to get an amazing tatto. we are in Florida and love Turtles. SO I managed to get a masculine Sea Turtle/tribal tattoo with two small turtles with the adoption symbol in their shells. I love it

By instfam on Sunday, June 09, 2013 at 12:31 am.

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Danielle Pennel

Danielle Pennel


I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
U.S. Newborn, U.S. Newborn

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