On Being an Adoptive Sibling

by: Jana Hunsley 

Not one thing in this life has affected me so deeply or changed me so profoundly as the adoption of my seven siblings.  Before adoption, my home was filled with two older sisters, a younger brother, and two parents.  Life was simple, comfortable, and uncomplicated.  After adoption, everything about life was different.  Between the ages of sixteen and twenty, I gained seven siblings through adoption from different countries.  Seven.  Those of you who understand adoption can just imagine what life was like at that time.  It was difficult, uncomfortable, and every bit of complicated.  (more…)

A New Book From Dr. Karyn Purvis

Update: The Connected Parent will be published on July 7, 2020. Read more about the book here or pre-order here

We’re thrilled to announce the release of a new book for parents of children from hard places, co-authored by Dr. Karyn Purvis, the Institute’s late Founder and Director.

This book is Dr. Purvis’s last written work, and we at the Institute are overjoyed that families will continue to benefit from her words and wisdom.

The press release below describes the book’s format and content:  (more…)

Poetry of Doing

by: David Cross, PhD

“How to Be a Poet”
(to remind myself)

by Wendell Berry
in Land, Life, and the Poetry of Creatures


Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge, skill — more of each
than you have — inspiration, work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.


Breathe with unconditional breath the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in. There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.


Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

Wendell Berry is a great writer, and this is a fine poem. Here he reflects on the writing of poetry, but I think this poem is also about the writing of lives. The writing of poetry is a form of doing, but there is also a poetry of doing. There can be poetry to the life each of us creates, in the moment-by-moment crafting of our daily striving.

Those of us associated with the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development and Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) know about great poems, for our guide — Karyn Purvis — has written some of the finest poetry of doing.(When expertly performed, TBRI itself is a poetry of doing.) Most of us on this TBRI journey have seen numerous examples of Karyn’s poetry, including video clips of her work with many children who attended The Hope Connection. We have also seen the poetry of doing in the Still Face Experiment, when the mother and the infant are interacting before the mother’s face goes still. Other examples include the TBRI Animates created by Cynthia Hall, and the Healing Families video series. I imagine that most, if not all, of you have experienced such poetry of doing, whether in your personal lives, or in your professional lives. Perhaps you wrote the poetry, or perhaps someone you know wrote the poetry. (Children are great poets, at least when they are not robbed of their poetry — after all, isn’t poetry about play and creativity and curiosity?)

If you haven’t experienced such poetry, it is most likely because you haven’t learned how to write it. This is, after all, what Wendell Berry’s poem is about, the writing of poetry. It seems to me that the key to writing poetry — on paper or in action — is mindfulness. This is the topic of Berry’s poem, and this is also the topic of the TBRI journey. “How to Be a Poet” reminds us that mindfulness and poetry both spring from experience and the sacred, and are always situated in time and place. These are worthy reminders as each of us takes our own TBRI journey.

Starting Small: Eye Contact


by: Amanda Purvis

Often times when people first hear about Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) they can feel overwhelmed. If that’s you, take a deep breath. Just like with learning any new skill, we must start small. In this series, we’ll give easy tips to help you start using TBRI®in your home or with the children you serve.

Eye Contact

“Amanda Grace! Look at me now!”

I can’t tell you how many times I heard that line when I was growing up. It’s a fairly normal childhood experience, as we often have our kids look at us when they’re in trouble, when we need to reiterate something, or clarify a rule. While eye contact certainly serves the function of getting attention, a key to Trust-Based Relational Intervention®(TBRI®) is utilizing eye contact first to build connection. Loving, warm eye contact is a vital component in building secure attachment and attuning to our children, especially if you brought your child home later and didn’t get to feed, cuddle, and gaze into your child’s eyes as we often do with young babies. If the children in our care missed this experience, loving eye contact is even more critical to building the attachment relationship. (more…)

TCU Child Development in China

by: Ashley West

Half way across the world stands a big, beautiful, blue building filled with some of the most precious kids. (more…)

TBRI® Animate: Attachment

We are thrilled to introduce our newest video resource, a TBRI® Animate about Attachment!

Dr. David Cross narrates this three-minute video which explores the importance of the attachment bond between children and their caregivers. (more…)

Family Separation and Trauma

The Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development strives to help children suffering from the effects of early trauma, abuse, and/or neglect. Research tells us these experiences of early harm make children vulnerable to a host of lifelong challenges from behavioral problems to mental illness and chronic health problems.

As developmental psychologists, we are painfully aware of the likely outcomes for the nearly 2,000 children who have been separated from their families at our country’s borders since April of this year. Research has demonstrated time and time again that prolonged separation between child and caregiver results in relational trauma, which affects all aspects of development, including brain development to social, emotional, and cognitive development.

The crux of our work is the research-backed, evidence-based fact that children need a trusted caregiver during times of distress. Without a trusted caregiver to meet their emotional needs, the predicted outcome for these children is dire. While we know that holistic, trauma-informed interventions can help these children heal, the best solution is to stop trauma before intervention is necessary.

We know that the effects of trauma ripple throughout the lifespan. Because we know better, we must do better.

Talking TBRI® 101 with Dr. David Cross

by: Emmelie Pickett

We’ve had an exciting week here at the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development. On May 9 we launched TBRI® 101: A Self-Guided Course in Trust-Based Relationships, a new resource that we’ve had in the works for quite awhile. Although this resource just became available, TBRI® 101 has an interesting history. Dr. David Cross, who created the TBRI® 101 video lessons with Dr. Karyn Purvis, tells us more.  (more…)