The Broken Bowl


“It’s a lot easier trying not to break the bowl than to put one back together again”

Lindsey H.

I had a conversation with one of my most dear friends.  We have both adopted teenagers and watched many around us who have done the same.  I was commenting on the disconnect sometimes that families can feel - the shock of how hard things can seem at times.  I feel so sad when I hear families feeling so defeated or discouraged at the struggles and trials they face.  I told my friend, “Everyone works SO hard to get to and through the adoption process - the kids included!  So when it goes sideways (or feels like it is), it just feels so raw.

Did I mention this is a great friend and one I really admire and look up to?  Her analogy was perfect!

That’s because it is broken.  It is not the way families are supposed to work … not the way God originally intended.  We pick up the pieces of a broken bowl and try to glue enough together to make the bowl hold enough liquid to be “enough.”  It’s a lot easier trying not to break the bowl than to put one back together again.  And the reality is that some of the broken glass simply can’t be put back together.  

It is an easier way to think about what adoptive families face.  You can’t glue the shattered bowl back together all at once.  You start at the bottom and glue it piece by piece hoping that the previous pieces stay together when you build on the next one.  There are not guarantees despite the immense amount of work you’ve put into painstakingly gluing each piece together. 

Even if everything works out perfectly and your bowl ends up with all of its pieces in place, the reality is that the bowl will never be the same as the way it was before it was broken.  

I think we can learn a lot from this and can celebrate the water we keep in the bowl vs. worrying about the parts that are seeping through the cracks.  We tend to notice the drips (and sloshes and gushes) more than we celebrate the pieces sometimes.  

Piece by piece, we rebuild the bowls - and our kids’ relationships within our families. And in that process, we all change and grow.

A special thanks to Lindsey H. for sharing your thoughts and insight ~ and for your friendship.  It is truly a special joy to have someone who “gets it” in my adoption tribe!

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Traci Mai

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