Considering Foster Care or Adoption?

If you are anywhere near Austin, Texas, you should consider attending this conference—A Future and A Hope. You will find answers, inspiration, and encouragement whether you are in the beginning stages, want to help families who do foster and adopt, or are in the midst of fostering or have adopted.

This year the guest speaker is Dr. Karyn Purvis and her team from the Institute of Child Development at TCU. If you are not familiar with Dr. Purvis and her research, I recommend getting her book, The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family.

Dr. Purvis draws from years of clinical and personal experience recommending an approach to working or parenting children “from a hard place” by empowering, connecting, and correcting.

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Surprise! The Cause of Your Child’s Misbehavior Might Not Be What You Think

Our son just turned four-years-old. He is bright, funny, adventuresome, lovable, good-looking, a good story-teller. I could go on and on. I tell people that I can brag on him because he doesn’t have our genes! Lately though his bad behavior has concerned Danielle and I. Sure some of his behavior  is typical four-year-old behavior. But this is more intense, frequent, and long-lasting.

Photo Credit: Chance Agrella via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Chance Agrella via Compfight cc

When our son yells at me, struggles in social settings or with sleep, refuses to listen or respond when I am talking to him…I admit my first thought and reaction is that he is a rebellious little dude. I want him to obey me. Right now!

This summer while Danielle was on a mission trip in Thailand, our son went to a day camp. Each day when I picked him up his shirt was soaked from him chewing on it. A sure sign of anxiety; and sensory processing issues.

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What’s the Point of All of This? (part 2)

A majority of this blog’s content comes from the Empowered to Connect Training material. Danielle and I are certified trainers and will offer the course a couple of times in 2015 in the Austin area.

We began this discussion last week in part 1 of What’s the Point of All of This?  We discussed how our history, attachment style, and default parenting style effects our relationship with our child. Also, we talked about owning your stuff and repairing your mistakes. If you didn’t read that article, click on that link to get to it.

All parents bring expectations with them into parenting—some realistic and others not. For adoptive families, however, lingering unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment, frustration and even a real disconnection between parents and children. When a child’s history of pain and loss begins to taint the beautiful picture of what a parent expected their adoption journey to look like, parents are tempted to protect their image rather than embrace their child’s feelings and struggles. When a child’s behaviors (rooted in fear and an instinct to survive) begin to collide with the “way we do things as a family” and are only made worse by a parent’s attempts at discipline, parents can find themselves exhausted and quickly nearing the point of despair.Empowered to Connect


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What’s the Point of All of This?

A majority of this blog’s content comes from the Empowered to Connect Training material. Danielle and I are certified trainers and will offer the course a couple of times in 2015 in the Austin area.
What’s the point of all of this if you’re not going to let it change you?Francis Chan

Far too often foster and adoptive parents focus all their attention on the change and healing that their child needs and ignore what needs to change in themselves. However, what you bring to the parent-child relationship matters—a lot.   We all bring, as parents, our own history, motivations, and expectations into the relationship. In order to help your child build trust, heal and grow you need to focus on your past, your future, and your present. This allows you as a parent to be fully present in each and every moment to help your child heal.


Is Your History Getting in the Way?

Become aware of how your past may be affecting your relationship with your child and be open to change. This will require learning how to “pay attention to what you are actually paying attention to” (Dr. Curt Thompson). In other words, do you pay attention to your “default mode” of responding to your child’s behavior?

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Three Principles of Trust-Based Relational Intervention

Developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross at the TCU Institute of Child Development, Trust-Based Relational Interventions® (TBRI®) is an emerging intervention model for a wide range of childhood behavioral problems. It has been applied successfully in a variety of contexts, and with many children for whom numerous other interventions have failed (e.g., medications, cognitive-behavioral therapies.) TBRI® is based on a solid foundation of neuropsychological theory and research, tempered by humanitarian principles. It is a family-based intervention that is designed for children who have experienced relationship-based traumas such as institutionalization, multiple foster placements, maltreatment, and/or neglect. For the past ten years, Drs. Purvis and Cross have been implementing and evaluating TBRI® , and their strategies have proven extremely effective in creating healing environments for children who have come from “hard places.” (from

The TBRI intervention model applies three main principles—Empower, Connect, Correct. The studies have proven that traditional parenting and interaction styles don’t usually work well with children from a hard place.

Let’s take a closer look at what these three principles look like:

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How to Develop Trust with an At-Risk Child

My wife took our three-year-old son to one of his favorite places yesterday—the mall. He enjoys playing at the indoor toddler playground as long as other children are there.

Sure enough children swarmed the play area, running, laughing, crying, climbing, and playing chase. Some parents sat fiddling with their smart phones periodically checking on their child. While others hovered over their little one trying to protect them from the bigger kids.

Our son quickly made friends with two girls who were sisters. When their mother announced that it was time to go, he followed the family out of the play area telling them he wanted to go home with them.

As my wife ran out to chase our son down, the girl’s mother was telling him that he needed to go home with his own mommy.

Whoa! What is that all about?


The challenge is he either doesn’t know who to trust or he doesn’t trust anyone. This prevents him from securely attaching to us as his mommy and daddy. Children from a hard place often struggle with this.

What is meant by, “a child from a hard place”?

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Through Eyes of Compassion

I had known this eight-month-old baby boy for only a few days. I didn’t know what to expect as we walked into the Child Protective Services office for the first parent visit. But this baby’s reaction didn’t seem normal to me.

Leaving the building, I carried him close to my chest. He watched his mommy and daddy over my shoulder walk in the other direction to their car. I expected for him to cry out for them. Instead, not a sound. His eyes glazed over.

I don’t remember him crying or fussing on our way to our home. But after we got in the house, this baby boy who was beginning to crawl and pull up, took hold of a toy that came from his home. I assumed that the toy was familiar to him.

What he did next took me by surprise.

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Seven Books To Help You Connect with Your Child

Below is the book list from the Empowered to Connect class that Danielle and I are taking this summer. Sure, the class focuses on connecting with children from hard places, and those children many times are adopted or in foster care. 



However, any child can come from a hard place as detailed in The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis.

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Thinking About Adoption? Count the Cost

Thinking About Adoption? Count the Cost.

My wife and I began a nine-week course entitled Empowered to Connect. The core of the study is Dr. Karyn Purvis’ material.

We realize that even though our adopted son looks just like any other child, he comes from a hard place. Sure he was only eight-months-old when he was placed with us. But, he had already experienced a lot of trauma in his short life.

If you are considering adoption, whether it is through private domestic, foster care, or international, I encourage you to watch the brief video above.

During these nine weeks I will post a few blogs with things I am learning. So, stay tuned!

P.S. If you want to pre-order a copy of my book, Adopting the Father’s Heart, visit the bookstore here on the site. An e-book version will soon be released as well.