It’s About the Child

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 http://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 @ http://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!

 

Fathers

Imagine if every child in America has a father.
Parenting is considered a team sport.
Mom's aren't burdened, they're empowered.
For the children, life is good!

Fathers are magical.
Daughters' self esteem is higher.
Sons are less violent
Mothers are much happier.

Where are the fathers?
We need you!
Come home.
Your children are waiting.

– David Michael Barnett

God Bless the Children from Hard Places*

God bless the children from hard places!

These are the children

whose beginning in the womb,

almost became their tomb.

Their lack of food and nutrition,

is an unacceptable condition.

Their deficit of quality care,

is more than they can bear.

Tragically, there is the presence of abuse,

for which there is absolutely no excuse!

God bless the children from hard places.

Please give them a place,

where they can feel safe –

and loved!

 David Michael Barnett

 

“Children from hard places” is a phrase attributed to Dr. Karen Purvis of the Child Development Center at Texas Christian University.

An Open Letter to Present and Future Adoptive Parents

As someone who has read a plethora of adoption blogs, books, and magazine articles, and as an older child adoptee, I find it very interesting what adoptive parents write about. Usually they begin by sharing with the reader about their own journey of wanting another child.  Some write about their desire to give a child a new and better life, others talk about their inability to birth a child, so they want to fulfill the need for a child by adopting. Included are phases such as “birthed in my heart” and “forever family.”  Many of these clichés, although meaningful, have been used over and over again by adoption agencies to market their services.

I would like to propose a different conversation related to adoption.  The first and foremost thought should be about the child.  I am not advocating child-centered parenting, but child focused empathy.  In the case of infant adoption ask yourself, “What does it feel like to listen to a mother’s voice for nine months, as a being is growing and developing,  and then the mother’s voice is silenced?”   Regardless of what you have been told, there is no such thing as a “blank slate.”  This is apparent when a child  has experienced alcohol or drug abuse by the mother.  This may impact the child for the rest of their life!   If you are adopting an older child, realize that they  have experienced and have definite memories of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. ( For more information on the effects of a child being abandoned by their birth mother, read “The Primal Wound” by Nancy Verrier.   An excellent resource for more information on an intervention for these children,  explore Trust Based Relational Intervention at http://www.child.tcu.edu.)

For most children and families, adoption is a wonderful experience,  but remember that it is Plan B.  Going into the adoption process with this in mind will help the adoptive parent to have more compassion for their child. Compassion for the child is the place to begin when it comes to “the adoption effect” (see The Adoption Effect by Barbara Blomquist),  so narccisists need not apply.  There are already enough messed up children in this world.