Triads and Triangles

Hi friends, family, and future baby,

This post will be published April 13, 2021. We’ll have been working with our agency for a year and a half and have spent 6 months as an actively waiting family.

These informative posts serve a few purposes. We didn’t know how much we didn’t know when we started this process! There is a lot to consider within the adoption community. As members of our own community, if you are interested in growing alongside us and supporting us and our future child with some of this knowledge, I want to empower you to do so. I also totally understand this may not be most people’s preferred method or time to get this information. We’ll all grow together through the years.

A typical adoption involves three primary groups: the adopting family, the birth family, and the adopted child. These three groups form what is called “the adoption triad”. Each adoption is composed of its own unique triad. As the adopting family, we hold the most power in the relationship and are responsible for building and nurturing a healthy triad. In my head, I’ve always pictured it as delicately balancing a triangle.

Image description: A cartoon person is delicately beginning to create a house of cards by attempting to lean the tops of two cards together, forming a triangle with the table underneath. They are sticking out their tongue to show concentrated focus. Image sourced from:

You can certainly have an adoption where one or two pieces of the triangle are not given equal balance. I’ll write more in a later post about our hopes for an open adoption, but that decision is not just ours to make. If the birth family wishes for a closed adoption, part of honoring the triad is honoring that decision and helping our child navigate it. That wouldn’t be enough. The triangle is only well-balanced if all three parts are represented. Even if we had a closed adoption, we would find ways to expose our child to the perspective of other birth families and demonstrate respect and honor for our child’s family of origin. If we want to promote a healthy culture around adoption, we need to honor all voices and experiences equally.

Image description: A cartoon person has created the foundation for their house of cards by standing three pairs of cards next to each other, each leaning against their partner. They are smiling and holding their hands up as if they are cautiously celebrating their success. Image sourced from:

The idea of the adoption triad is fairly new. Until recently, there were not many adult adoptee voices sharing about their experience. This is connected to the history of adoption, which I may get into the weeds about in a future post. Maybe not. Regardless, now that we are able to hear from more adult adoptees about their experiences we are learning how we can do better going forward. Recognizing and honoring the triad is one step.

John and I have attended classes and panel discussions, listened to podcasts, followed groups, and read articles to hear more voices from the other two parts of the triad. Like any community, there isn’t one voice or message that represents everyone’s perspective. We’ll keep learning and growing. We’re attending a Birth Father panel discussion in June that we’re pretty excited about because birth fathers are not someone we’ve heard much from in the past. I might share some of what we learn then here, but, if you’re interested, the best place to learn about a community is from members of that community. Here are some options if you’d like to hear more:


Untold Stories: Voices of Adoption

Adoptees On

Born in June, Raised in April

Two Good Mums


Transfiguring Adoption

How to be Adopted

Adoptee in Recovery

The Adopted Life

Musings of a Birthmom

Little Georgina

Bonafide Birthmother

Thank you for continuing on this journey with us. Our child will be stronger because of the community you generously provide.

Image description: A cartoon person has completed a four level card tower. They are smiling and look proud. Image sourced from:

With love,


Image Description: Photo was taken on New Year’s Eve 2017, but it’s one of my favorites. John is holding Jeb and about to play a card in Jamaican Salsa. The Christmas tree is lit in the background.

Shifting Perspective

Hi friends, family, and future baby,

In order to ensure I got some momentum going with this blog, I used my rainy Spring Break to write a few entries in advance. I’m writing this from our Farm Stay in Catawissa on March 18th. It has been a year and a half since we applied to our agency, but only 5 months as an official waiting family.

In my last post about why we chose to grow our family through adoption, I wrote:

In a world where people are searching for love and safety, it never made sense to put our efforts towards medical intervention when instead we could direct our efforts towards giving a home to a child in need.

Choosing to Adopt Post Published 3/24/21

In a footnote I added:

This statement is reflective of our thoughts at the time. Since then, we have learned this phrasing is problematic, which I will explain in our next post.

Choosing to Adopt Post Published 3/24/21

Here’s the thing – in the past there have been two dominant stories about adoption: the adoptive parents are “saviors” or the adopted child is a “gift.” Both of these stories are wrong.

The Savior Story paints adoptive families as saints and sets-up a contrast that the birth families are bad or evil. The adoptive child is “saved” which implies that they would not have been able to carve out a happy, successful life for themselves if it weren’t for the adoptive family. Nothing is ever that simple. Adopted children are not birds with broken wings that we swoop in to save before the neighborhood cat eats it. We do not know what their story would be if life had taken a different turn, but it is their life and their story, one which they have the agency to craft. Birth families that make an adoption plan do so because they want the best for this little human in their care. It is immense an act of love and courage. It is filled with a spirit of selflessness.

The Gift story erases the child’s family of origin. It centers the adoption on the adoptive family and the child. In this story, the child is a commodity. A gift implies that the child is a wish fulfillment, placing a presumption on the child that their worth is connected to the joy they bring which limits their capacity to have their own struggles and mis-steps. A “Gotcha Day” celebrates the joy of the parents receiving their child and erases the trauma the child experienced by being torn from the only family they knew.

As potential adoptive parents, when we centered our story on the idea of “giving a home to a child in need”, we helped promote the first story. Of course that wasn’t our meaning or intention when we began this journey. However, now we know a little better, so it is our job to do better.

Our first story wasn’t a lie, but it also wasn’t the whole truth. We are choosing to grow our family through adoption, because we want the joy of raising a child. I want to snuggle a baby, watch it learn how language works, show it the joy of chasing waves on the beach. All of those things will increase our happiness. There is selfishness in this act. It doesn’t erase a desire to help, but “helping” isn’t the full story.

I selfishly want to see my husband giving piggyback rides to our child and read under blanket forts on a rainy night. No one deserves the responsibility of another human soul. This isn’t a given. If we have the opportunity to grow our family through adoption it will come trauma, pain and loss for others. That needs to be acknowledged.

With love,


Image Description: A selfie of John and I on a rainy hike. I’m grinning broadly and John is smiling. We’re in winter hats and raincoats and you can see the woods in the background.

Waiting and Doubting

Hi friends, family, and future baby,

It has been a year and a half since we applied to our agency, and 6 months as an official waiting family.

These past two weeks. I was going to write these weeks have been hard or challenging, but that robs all the wonderful moments from their deserved moment in the sun. In these past two weeks, John found out about some vaccines that were going to waste 40 minutes away and got his first Moderna shot. In these past two weeks, I reunited with my class for our final quarter after our 5 year journey and began the tender process of sharing memories and treasuring moments. In these past two weeks, we reconnected with family over Easter, danced in the kitchen, finished the Sopranos series, and savored the sunlight.

Waiting was hard these past two weeks. Even that sentence isn’t quite right. The weeks began with a phone check-in with our social worker. We decided to redo our video that is shown to families considering an adoption plan. I’ve been uncomfortable with out video since we made it, so that decision was a relief. We’ll need to film the new video in Lancaster the week of our wedding anniversary. We decided to make an overnight trip out of it. That’s pretty joyful and fortunate.

We attended a Birth Parent Panel hosted by our agency. Three parents who made adoption plans for their children shared about their experiences. One father placed his son three years ago. One mother placed her daughter eleven years ago, another mother placed her son thirteen years ago. Each parent cried throughout the evening, the emotions still so raw and painful. Each parent explained why they made the choice they did, all three reasons were unique and interesting, but it almost felt as though they needed to justify their choice to us. As if we were arbiters of forgiveness or approval when, as adopting families their pain is exactly what brings us our joy. We should have nothing other than gratitude and respect to offer back.

I left that discussion struck by the depths of their sorrow and filled with gratitude that we chose the agency we did. Each parent thanked the agency multiple times. In their 3, 11, and 13 year journey since placing their child, the agency has stayed with them, supporting them. he agency has been there not only to help manage their grief and support the relationship with their child and adoptive family, but also to help them navigate life and find their feet. We chose this agency specifically because we wanted to work with an ethical agency that supports birth families. That is hard to find in the adoption industry and I am so grateful we made thus choice.

However, part of being an ethical agency that supports expecting and birth families means it’s harder as a potential adopting family. As it should be, but sometimes hard is hard.

Another thing we learned on our call with our social worker is that even though birth and adoption rates are currently going down, our agency is still accepting new families seeking to adopt. Other agencies will put a cap on Waiting Families so that they aren’t waiting too long, their odds of being placed increases. Our agency prioritizes birth and expecting families. They should have as many families to choose for their child as possible. Their odds of finding a perfect match should increase. This is right, but it’s hard.

Last Sunday we got an email about a little boy who had just been born the day before. He was incredibly healthy, his mom was healthy, and she very much wanted to place him right away. We had an hour to respond and say if we were willing to be shown to her. We said yes. And waited. For 24 hours, my phone never left my side. Not a second went by without the awareness we might get a call, find out we’ve been chosen and need to immediately jump in a car, pick up a sweet baby, and change our lives forever. Not a second went by without the awareness that we wouldn’t picked. While I was teaching Monday morning, I got the alert. We weren’t chosen.

It’s hard for me to have the experience of “not being chosen”. I believe we will be matched with the child that is meant to be in our family. Logically this means “rejection is protection”. We need to be rejected so we are read for our child when the time comes. It’s difficult for me to not see rejection as rejection. We were viewed and determined not right. The only thing in our control is a ten page booklet and a video. Did I make the booklet wrong? Did I write the wrong words? Do I look sad in that picture? Are we too old? Are we not special enough? Our social worker lovingly hinted that I might be over-thinking things. Of course she’s right. That’s what I do.

It’s easy for me to focus on the light in the distance. I see it so brightly in others, in John, in our agency. It’s hard to stop the darkness of doubt when looking inward. These past two weeks. They’ve been a journey.

With love,


Image Description: Bowser is in a mowed down field at sunset. In the distance there is a grove of trees and a barn. The foreground is dark, but the sunset has a rainbow of color.

Choosing to Adopt

Hi friends, family, and future baby,

I’m writing this on March 17th, 2021. (Happy Birthday, Bluto!) It has been a year and a half since we started this process, but only 5 months as an official waiting family.

It was a sunny Spring morning. We just finished a slow breakfast. I was cleaning up and John was in the office. Summer vacation was close enough that there was a dream of endless free time, before the reality of end of year work hit. I come into the hall as John stepped out of the office. “Adoption can take 2-5 years. We’re 37. I think we should start at least researching it.” John took a long pause. Then, “ok”. If you’ve watched us make major life decisions over the years, that’s the telltale sign the train has left the station.

There had been years of half conversations leading up to that point. Before we were even engaged, John and I discussed what our future family might look like. We both agreed we weren’t sure if children were in our future. “But if we do have kids, ” I remember saying as I paused by the gate to our yard in Montclair, “I would want to adopt at least one.” “That makes sense,” John replied, “maybe adopt one, have one.” We proceeded into the yard to enjoy the Spring sunshine. Bright light seems to gently stamp and seal these moments.

John and I take our time. We move, marry, move, and find our way in the world. We grow up and establish who we want to be in relation to ourselves and others. All this time, our love and trust in each other continues to grow. There is no single, magical moment where we decide we’re ready to parent. Practically speaking, our natural rhythms shift into earlier wake-up times, and our interests draw us out of the city. Throughout this we learn more about our own capacities. We’ve each believed the other capable, but needed to find that faith in ourselves. Without actively trying, becoming parents shifts from a terrifying possibility we need to prevent against to an opportunity we’re open to.

As we are actively open to growing our family, we wait. We save enough to buy a home. We find a sense of permanency and stability. Although these milestones are adequately timed with our friends from the city, well-timed with our friends from the city, they come along a little later than the general population and the odds biology favors. Still, John and I have always taken our time.

We don’t feel rushed, or urgent. Adoption had always been a possibility. We’ve seen countless examples that prove what a miracle conception and birth truly are, we never assumed that gift would come to us. We were both blessed by the influence of large communities when we were young, we know love comes in all ways. In a world where people are searching for love and safety, it never made sense to put our efforts towards medical intervention when instead we could direct our efforts towards giving a home to a child in need.*

Time flows like a river, thoughts progress like floating leaves. As the river bends, months pass and the conversations trickle along. Then, one sunny Spring morning, we see the love we have to give and the home we can offer. It is time to grow our family, we decide to adopt.

With love,


*This statement is reflective of our thoughts at the time. Since then, we have learned this phrasing is problematic, which I will explain in our next post.

Image is of Bowser standing in a stream in Cook Forest while John looks on. John is in a bit of shadow with mud, stones, and brown leaves. Bowser and the rest of the picture are tinged by a golden light which highlights the yellow and green in the grass and trees.


Hi friends, family, and future baby,

How are things going with your adoption? This is the most common question we get. We appreciate it! It shows you’re interested, you care, and you want to show support. Our responses probably don’t reveal how much we value the question.

The short answer is a shrug and “We’re waiting.” The word “waiting” has a nuanced meaning in the adoption world, made more confusing due to the worldwide pause that was Covid. Significant events happen, but it doesn’t change our status as “waiting”.

This is a more specific timeline of events. I may write future blog posts to explain some of these further later on.

March 4, 2021 We said no for the first time. We were asked if we wanted to be presented to a family who was making a plan fir a baby boy born on Katrina’s birthday. Saying no was incredibly hard, but the baby had more medical issues than we felt equipped for. We decided to step aside for any families that felt called to him. We did ask to be contacted if no one else stepped forward.

February 14, 2021 Some of our Home Study documents had already expired from last year and needed to be renewed. This included a dramatic chasing of fingerprints and historic mail delays.

December 28, 2020 After some confusion, our online profile goes live.

October 21, 2020 We are officially a Waiting Family!

October 20, 2020 We submitted our final Profile Key.

September 12, 2020 We filmed our video (after a harrowing morning run for Katrina involving someone intentionally pooping on the trail).

September 11, 2020 We submitted our profile book for approval.

August 19, 2020 As we’re leaving to drive to Delaware to film. the video that is shown to interested families, we get a call that the videographer was in an accident and the shoot had to be canceled. (He was ok, just needed to take care of the situation at hand.)

August 10, 2020 We received and approved the draft of our Home Study

July 21, 2020 After a four month delay due to Covid, our Home Visit was completed! Immediately after, Katrina left to drop-off a check for the next phase at the agency and got a flat tire.

March 18, 2020 We sent the final Home Study documents to the agency. (These included: Liabilities Paperwork, Assets Paperwork, Biographical Statements, Transracial Adoption Reflections, Insurance Documents, Background Checks, Corporal Punishment, Guardianship, Medical Forms, Diplomas, References. I definitely forgot some.)

Fall of 2019/Winter of 2020 We meet with our social worker a number of times as part of a”Home Study”/Assessment process. We complete a set of mandatory courses that include Infant Care, Transracial Adoption, Prenatal Drug and Alcohol Exposure, creating a Profile and Key, and Adoption Education.

September 24, 2019 Our first meeting with our wonderful Social Worker, Katie.

September 12, 2019 We submitted our application to work with Adoptions from the Heart.

Summer 2019 We tell our families about our plan. We eventually choose Domestic Infant Adoption and begin researching agencies.

Spring 2019 We decide to grow our family through adoption and begin researching what that means.

Thank you for your consistent and patient encouragement over the past year and a half.

With love,


Image Description: John and Bowser huddled under a drive-through bank terminal waiting out a sudden rain storm this summer. John is looking at the camera smiling, Bowser is staring adoringly at John.

What Happened?

Hi friends, family, and future baby,

Intentions are wishes blown into the wind. Like the single feather in a cloud of dandelion, they may or may not take seed. I began this blog over a year ago with a vague intention. I quickly realized I didn’t know what flower I was hoping to grow. Is this a space to keep loved ones informed? Is it a letter to our future child? Is it my journal to help process all I learn and experience?

My dandelion spore circled the earth, not sure where to land until I knew what it was I wanted to plant. Then, in the midst of the most beautiful burgeoning early Spring, fear struck down. I’ll always be grateful that the sun shone with early warmth. Our magnolia showered pink and our forsythia sang in yellow as we hid from a virus that spread so fast and strong we couldn’t leave our homes. In this context, it felt selfish to put wishes for new life into the world. We were all focused on preserving the lives of those we loved most.

While our adoption journey has continued to slowly progress, with many doubts and false starts, communicating our journey fell dormant. Last Friday, March 12, was exactly a year since the Governor of Pennsylvania first began mandating social distancing measures in some counties. It was also the day I was fortunate enough to receive my vaccine. This Spring is colder, cloudier. It’s also filled with hope for a better future. I’m still not sure what kind of plant this blog will become, or if the seed will even germinate. But it felt like the right time to begin again.

With love,


Image is of me in bed with Bower and Jeb. It was taken the day after my shot and I was recovering with a headache and some fatigue. I have my computer in my lap and I’m half-heartedly waving. Bowser has his tongue sticking out.

Why do you have a blog?

Hi. It’s Katrina. It’s probably safe to assume that any future posts will be me talking. We’ll let you know if it’s John.

We have a huge circle of people who care about us, or are at least mildly interested. We’re lucky that way. Our circle is moderate in number, but turns huge when you think about geographic size.

I hate talking on the phone, but there are so many of you I’d love to catch up with by sitting in a cozy coffee shop, going on a hike, or strolling around a museum (depending on if we know each other from city, town, or NH).

My heart bursts with love whenever I see or hear updates of your life changes, even if we don’t talk directly. There’s also a bittersweet feeling that we’re not there physically to be by your side through the inevitable highs and lows. This blog is for you.

There are also those who I may be lucky enough to see everyday, or week. People who are integral in my life, but for the time being I need to keep at a professional distance. I see a future of friendship and want to keep you included in this big life step. This blog is for you.

There are those who I could be more open with if I was a bit less reserved and didn’t feel egocentric talking about something so wholly related to just me and John. I know you won’t mind, but the New England reserve comes out and the transitions feel awkward. (I see you Sara Luttrell, I’m still an expert at not talking about myself.) This is for you, too.

Maybe one day, our child will have questions about how they came to us. Were they valued, hoped for, and wanted as much as their peers? Hi, baby. You are already loved. This is for you, too.

I have grand goals of updating a lot and keeping you informed of all the ups and downs and crazy things that happen in this corner of family building. It took me two months just to get this started, so I probably won’t meet them, but my heart is there.

Bringing a baby into the world is a gift for all humanity. The potential joy, triumph and love that little being can give us is often celebrated by feeling a mother’s tummy, laughing about a baby’s kick, or, as I once did a lifetime ago, offering a gentle headbutt at a bachelorette party. We won’t be offering you that experience, but here’s a hope that this effort offers a slight thrill of anticipation instead.