Made to be Broken

The past couple of days I have felt irregularly emotional. Every five seconds I thought I would cry but couldn’t. Every little precious moment and every difficult one with the kids made me hold back tears. I have felt a lead block on my chest night and day. If you were to go up and ask me, “What’s wrong?” all I would be able to say is yes. I just felt the brokenness in a way I cannot put into words.

Today, we started our first day of school. I was amazed at how well the kids did. C (girl) was fine up until we got to her classroom. Then her excitement of going to school turned into fear. She spilled the beans and said she was shy and didn’t want to go in. I sat with her and another student for a while and talked. It did not get her to budge. Then I went and took C (boy) to his classroom. He was doing so well. He kept calm and was able to sit by himself for a while in the cafeteria with his classmates. I returned to a little girl and Ryann still standing in front of the classroom.

Now that I was there, she was ‘ready’ to go in. Until we went to go in. Finally I was able to carry her in there. A little known fact, I can at times appear somewhat aggressive or stark, but I am actually a big teddy bear. This little girl rested her scared head on my shoulder and cried. Inside I was crying too. I held her tight telling her encouraging things. I patted her back as she clinged as close to me as she could. Slowly but surely we worked our way to her seat and she sat in it reluctantly on her own. We gave her our love and we left.

As we drove home and got out of the car finally away from the kids for the first time, I still felt the lead weight pushing down on my chest. As we entered the house, Ryann wisely asked, “Why are you still acting so worn out and fatigued?” For the first time it dawned on me what was happening. I was not sad or burdened because I had to leave an emotional little girl in her kindergarden class alone or because I got to see a boy stay calm and do well at his first day of school. I felt so broken and burdened because I was mourning.

I was mourning all of the trauma and instability these two children had to face. They do not understand what mommy and daddy means. They have had to learn most of their skills on their own. They have had to endure and learn about one set of family rules and expectations and turn around and relearn a whole new set of rules at a new place, at a new school, at a new home. Sometimes new is not so exciting anymore. A little girl was crying when we left her- like many children her age do but most little girls have not been through what this little girl and her older brother have been through.

I was mourning their loss. I was mourning their suffering. I have had many loving people tell me congratulations (if you are one of those people, this is not to say that was wrong. Thank you for your love and support, what else could you really say anyways?). I am experiencing these strange emotions. People are happy for us, people are touched by what we are doing. But I don’t feel excited anymore. I feel devastated. I should not be their parent. They did not deserve any of this. Every time they lash out or say mean and hurtful things, I don’t feel angry, I feel remorse. People are excited for us, and yet all I feel is their pain. I am still crying for them. I have to mourn their loss, because they have lost everything humans in this world hold dear.

Finally today I wept for a little boy and a little girl. All of my pinned up thoughts and feelings that I was struggling to figure out what to do with finally came crashing down. I have seen the victims of a lost, broken, and evil world and it has broken every part of me. Some things are made to be broken.

But slowly, I felt the sorrow turn to peace and comfort. There is some part of us designed to break. Under the pressure of the dark truth, we are supposed to crack open to make room for something. I need to mourn with these kids in order to walk with them toward the light.

We are supposed to break like Christ broke for us. He stared evil brokenness in the face and absorbed the justice and wrath it deserved. He came down off a throne of glory, and lived in the filth of corrupted humanity to shine light. Christ mourned our brokenness. Then he sacrificed himself to make it whole again. This is the closest I have ever felt to understanding that. I am not Jesus, but if Jesus’ heart can be broken for the corruption of his world and people, then maybe mine can be broken a while too. Maybe our hearts were made to be broken. Maybe somehow in mourning brokenness, we can find peace and healing.






3 thoughts on “Made to be Broken

  1. Thank you both for sharing this journey with all of us. The honesty and emotion that you both express so well resonates at the core of many parents and caregivers, either through actual experiences or by connecting with the deep dark pool of possible horrible things that our children and loved ones could be subject to. I think this brokenness that you describe is a necessary component for becoming a family.

    As new parents (birth or adoptive) we prepare as much as possible. We read the books, we consult people that we trust, we make determinations about how we want to handle our approach to parenting and discipline. Our reading lists will differ depending on our circumstances but the scope is similar. The longer the journey takes (adoptive process, infertility, etc), the more we prepare and plan. By the time we finally become parents we have positioned ourselves to be well informed advocates and caretakers for these children however they come to us. There’s a power differential between us with the answers and them with the needs. Of course we feel nervous and anxious but we really do hold the cards. We will work to meet their needs, keep them safe, calm their fears and learn to love them.

    Those moments of feeling broken will come. Exhaustion, fear, the weight of responsibility, the wrenching grief for these young children that have endured so much, whatever the trigger those moments of raw vulnerability and brokenness will come. In those moments we will cling to our children and hold them tight. Burying our heads on their shoulders. We will see their resilience and muster our own. We will see their small gestures of willingness to trust (even if it’s through an outburst because they’re testing your response) and en devour to rise to meet it and be worthy of their trust. In those moments no one holds the cards. We’re all in the same exposed boat. These are the moments when we grow together as a family. These moments are usually not pretty. The are usually born of pain. The details fade into the background of our memories to be replaced by happier ones, but they are necessary. They will come from joy also. A sleeping face, relaxed from the worries of the day big or small, will hit you like a ton of bricks one day. The peace and beauty of it will take your breath away.

    So have a good cry, it does wonders. Continue to give these moments the space and recognition that they deserve. You are being broken and rebuilt. It will happen many, many times. Thank you reminding me of this.

    I will say congratulations knowing that right now the aspects to be mourned are more obvious than the aspects to be celebrated. Congratulations for reaching this breaking point and being open to the growth that will come from it. Congratulations that you have the strength of your faith for comfort and guidance.

    Lastly, congratulations physiology! Child care behaviors and associated stressors are thought to trigger comparable oxytocin releases in adoptive and birth parents, both fathers and mothers. Your brain physiology is literally being altered by this experience. You are experiencing emotional responses and are capable of expressing them to others in a way that is beyond what your brain could do before. You are being rebuilt to care for these children.

    Much love to you all.



    1. Thank you for your encouraging words. You are definitely right. I still haven’t let out all of my heart. I still feel burdened, but I have hope. Ryann has been a true trooper and I could not imagine doing this with anyone else. I have always struggled processing experiences and I can tell you this experience has definitely opened my mind to more emotion. Thank you for your well guided congrats, your love, and support!


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