A real life superhero died April 12, 2016. Dr. Karyn Purvis changed the lives and homes of orphans and foster and adopted children around the world and the lives of their caregivers. In our home, we lovingly refer to her as “the child whisperer.” I am so grateful to have met her and for the books and videos in our home so I can continue to hear her voice teaching me how to reach the hearts of hurt children.
Last year during the Empowered to Connect conference simulcast, I leaned over to Darren and said, “She’s training her replacements.” As someone who’s had ample leadership training, I could see that she was wisely passing the torch to others. She’s had a very long battle with cancer. The first time I saw her in person was in February of 2012. At that time, I remember her being weak from chemo and needing a stool on stage so she could rest a little while speaking, but she was still full of spunk and passion. She had qualities that no one can replace.
Foster and adoptive families are well acquainted with grief. All three groups involved—the children, the foster or adoptive parents, and the biological parents—have and are experiencing grief of some kind. Any experience with grief has the power to teach us and give us more compassion for others, if we let it! I found myself grieving off and on last week, going through the emotions involved with grief. I wanted to believe that it wasn’t true. I was sad that I would never again be able to go to a conference and ask her questions to aid in our family’s journey, to gain wisdom from her experience and knowledge. I was angry that future adoptive and foster caregivers will be limited to videos of her teaching. They won’t know the special feeling of seeking her out and getting her undivided attention during a conference break.
What’s the Lesson Here?
I think we can all learn countless lessons through the life and death of this amazing woman, but I want to focus here on the grief of our children. Last week, I saw comments all over social media from individuals grieving, some who knew her well, but many who have never met her, or like myself, met her only briefly.
How could so many people grieve someone they didn’t or hardly knew? Her life impacted ours in profound ways. Her life and experience changed our lives and experiences. So, how much more do foster and adoptive children grieve the loss of their biological families, whether they’ve met them or not. Their biological families gave them life and DNA.
Dr. Purvis, you are loved and missed. Thank you for…
…using your words.
…teaching us all about our preciousness.
…helping us all hear our shark music.
Now It’s Your Turn:
- What is your favorite Dr. Purvis phrase or quote?
- How has Dr. Purvis impacted your life or your family?