TBRI and the Adopted Adult

This past week, I spent 5 days in Fort Worth, TX becoming a Trust Based Relationship Intervention (TBRI) Practitioner.

This blog post is the story of how I came to know that TBRI is the key to the work I am so passionate about with children from hard places. (adopted, foster, abused, neglected…..you get the idea)

In 1965, I was a child in a hard place. I had been relinquished at birth and placed in an adoptive home. This home was not kind to me,and I was removed and placed in foster care. I came to my adoptive parents 8 months later, and as my mom described me, “not in very good shape.” I was a child from a hard place.

I grew up feeling like a square peg in a round life. I never really felt at ease or as though I fit. I was able to connect and attach, though not securely, to my family and to others in my life. Being born in the baby scoop era of adoption, my parents had no way of knowing I may feel odd, out of place, lost, scared or that my adoptedness would have life lasting implications due to my brain having been traumatized right at birth due to immediate removal from my first mother.

I am now a Marriage and Family Therapist and I have worked very hard to heal my adopted-ness, to address trauma in my life and to be able to find ways to have secure attachments in my life. Even with all my knowledge, training, therapy and self work, it is still hard at times to connect and not feel rejected. This is life as an adoptee.

In May 2017, Julie Harris, LCSW, introduced our agency to The Connected Child and Dr. Karyn Purvis. I remember watching the videos that were shared and listening to Dr. Purvis’ voice and having such a sense of calm. I felt like Karyn’s voice was the voice that I had always heard in my mind when I was a child and craving God’s comfort. I remember saying to Julie after one of the training days, “Dr Purvis speaks to children the way I imagine God speaks to children.” It was very moving and real to me.

I decided that if I felt this way watching videos and reading her book, that I had to have this training. I applied for a scholarship to attend the TBRI training through Show Hope. I didn’t tell anyone I applied as I was sure I would not be selected to attend (there is that adoptee lack of confidence in self). Then, I received a phone call and was told I had been accepted! I so thrilled to be awarded a place in the September 2019 training. I later found out that over 900 applications had been received, vetted with a fine tooth comb and only over 100 were awarded scholarships. WOW. I was ONE of them!

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Dr Purvis said, “If a child has been hurt in a relationship, they can only be healed in a relationship.” Isn’t THIS an accurate statement? As an adult adoptee, I have chased after healing for so long. Therapy. Spirituality. Writing. Solitary walks in nature. Pets. All of this has been healing…but nothing has been as healing as finding my tribe…other adoptees who look into my eyes and without saying a word, KNOW the hard place we have come from.

As an adult adoptee, finding TBRI has been final piece in my journey for wholeness.

Being in a room in Fort Worth for 5 days with other human beings who are HONORING where children have come from, who are working to UNDERSTAND their past in order to better their future and who are LOVING them unconditionally has healed places in me where my smallest self lives.

Adoption is trauma. TBRI recognizes this fact. I am beyond thankful for the knowledge and skills I have learned this past week. And, as I reflect, my own tears stream down my face as I think of that small me who needed connection and of the children I connect with through my work as a therapist.

Humility in learning. Thankfulness in service. Healing in being seen.

Pictures from my week of miracles:

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