A Tribute to Dr. Karyn Purvis


Today the world lost a woman who had an astounding impact on adoptive and foster families worldwide, including mine. Dr. Karyn Purvis was a researcher in child development (and a brilliant one at that), but more than that, she was a child whisperer. As a teacher, I have watched many people in amazing interactions with kids, but Karyn consistently blew me away and inspired me in ways that no one else has.

Laura and I first came to know of Dr. Purvis before we began fostering through her book, "The Connected Child" which was loaned to us by friends who had adopted their little girl from China. We didn't completely understand what we were in for when we decided to take our journey, and this book scared us but gave us hope too.

Then last April we attended the Empowered to Connect Conference put on by Show Hope and TCU's Institute of Child Development. There we heard Dr. Purvis speak for the first time. The kindness in her voice is matched by few people. We learned from her the impacts trauma has on the brain and began to see how to love kids well in those situations.

When given the chance, Laura and I immediately signed up for this year's ETC which took place this past Friday and Saturday. While last year's conference took place in TX and was simulcast in Nashville, this year's was actually in Nashville. We looked forward to seeing Dr. Purvis in person, and possibly getting to meet her and thank her for her work. Sadly, we received an email from the conference early last week saying Dr. Purvis's health had declined and she would not be able to travel.

Still, we saw her on videos and learned from people she taught and influenced. This year's conference was even more special because we have kids now. We were able to apply so much practically to how we interact with Dubs and BabyP. I've heard Laura say several times since then that she's trying to "channel her inner Karyn Purvis."

When I learned of her passing this afternoon at only 66 years old, I teared up in my car over a woman I never met. The world has lost a servant who dedicated her life to helping children know they are precious, safe, loved, and have worth. She personally worked with hundreds of kids, and trained countless other families to do the same.

My family will never be the same because of her work, and she will be deeply missed by the adoption and foster care community. If you or someone you know is struggling through difficult behaviors in a child from a hard place, I urge you to look at Dr. Purvis's work.

I thank God for the blessing she was to so many.