When I first saw a video of Dr. Karyn Purvis, I wanted to meet her. I was “star struck!” As an adoptee, she understood me, though I never met her. I watched all of her videos on YouTube. Then, I ordered all of her DVDs from www.child.tcu.edu. I could not get enough of this woman who understood someone like me, “a child from hard places.” Sadly, the reason she did not return my email was that she was dying of cancer. I had been away from “the literature” for a while when she appeared on my radar, which I regretted. Dr. Purvis died on April 12, 2016. I was so moved by her life and story that I decided to go to her funeral even though it was 5 hours away. Her funeral was amazing. It was obvious that she had touched lives far beyond her immediate sphere of influence. I was also not alone. There were many, like me, who had never met her in person, yet attended her funeral because of being touched by her through her videos, book, and articles. If there is one word to describe her it would be Christlike! (Read her biography @ www.child.tcu.edu/karyn/#sthash.gQtE2l4g.dpbs).
Dr. Purvis lived in the reality that it wasn’t about her and conveyed that to her audience of one or thousands. The lesson is obvious. Although, being a part of foster care and adoption is a ministry from the heart of Jesus, “it is not about you!” In other words, if you are involved in the ministry to orphans, it is about the child. When it becomes about what the foster or adoptive parent does by taking an orphan in their home, then the ministry becomes off balance. In other words, a foster/adopt ministry is child-centered. This is not to say that one can’t “give honor to whom honor is due.” However, the glory goes to God, not to the parent. As a Christian, when the foster/adopt child becomes the object of our ministry, then according to Jesus, we are doing the ministry of Jesus! (Matthew 19:14).
One of the negatives when foster/ adopt parents are given too much adulation is that they are afraid to ask for help. All parenting can be overwhelming, however, imagine parenting a child who has experienced complex trauma! If you are a parent who is being placed on such a high pedestal, it may be difficult to be express your need for guidance, and as a result, fall back to what is logical or traditional instead of what your child may actually need.
Dr. Purvis understood what it took to be a successful parent of foster/adopt children because she knew the research and what a “child from hard places” needed. Hopefully, all foster/adopt parents open their minds to the research and information available from Dr. Purvis and others who have researched what trauma does to children. And remember, it’s all about the child!