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The Gospel on Display

Laurie Hart and her husband and children

When Laurie and Michael Hart first felt the call to adopt in January 2017, they specifically felt called to adopt a teen out of foster care.

“Everyone thought we were crazy,” Laurie said.

Not long after connecting with an agency, they came across the information for a teenager and felt she was the one they were being called to adopt. Because there are so few people pursuing adoption of teens, their agency was expediting the process.

At the same time, an expectant mother reached out to the Harts with the desire to make an adoption plan for her unborn baby, and so Laurie and Michael moved forward with that plan as well.

While all of this was happening, a friend recommended attending a simulcast of Show Hope’s Empowered to Connect Conference (now the Hope for the Journey Conference).

“We didn’t have years and years of the experience of working with kids and struggling to figure it out,” Laurie said. “We were thankful to have it right at the start.”

Even before they had children in their home, Laurie and Michale could tell the impact that Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) could have.

Shortly after attending the conference, the Harts discovered that due to a clerical error, both of the adoptions they were pursuing were not able to be completed. Laurie described how heartbroken they both felt. During what they described as a “really hard season,” the Harts’ agency kept calling about foster care placements. Laurie and Michael continued to say no; until one day, they were contacted about fostering a 17-year-old mother.

“All year, we had been preparing for a teen and a baby,” Laurie said. “And here was a teen and a baby, but it was totally different. [However] because we had been preparing, we were ready. We were first-time parents to a parent, [but] TBRI kept us open through that.

Laurie Hart and family

“Because of TBRI, I felt like our hearts were open to her in a different way,” Laurie continued. “We knew that her primary need was connection. The primary focus was a relationship. We asked ourselves, How can we connect to her heart and not just be focused on checking off all the boxes of things a teen mom should be doing?

Eventually, Laurie and Michael decided they were only going to pursue adoption. Yet soon thereafter, their foster agency reached out to the Harts about a sibling pair who were 3 and 4 years old. Although the Harts initially said no, the agency insisted the case plan was adoption. Despite this, almost as soon as the kids came to live with them, the case plan changed to reunification.

“The Lord really got a hold of me at that time and did a work in me,” Laurie said. “I went through a deep depression having lost so much already on this journey. When I came out on the other side, all I wanted to do was be the biggest cheerleader for these children and their mom. When you talk about TBRI, it is loving to the point of healing. God’s healing can cross any kind of barrier with love and connection.”

When you talk about TBRI, it is loving to the point of healing. God’s healing can cross any kind of barrier with love and connection.

Laurie Hart

Ultimately, though, Laurie and Michael did adopt the siblings, Lexus and Xavier, who are now 10 and 9 years old.

Laurie Hart and her husband and 2 children

The first three times that the Harts attended the Hope for the Journey Conference they were in three different, unique stages.

“For three years in a row, we experienced Empowered to Connect and Hope for the Journey through very different filters, and every single year, it was revolutionary,” Laurie said. “We applied the different principles in different stages with different kids of different ages … [from] the Connecting Principles [to] the Empowering Principles and sensory aspects.”

Laurie even began to utilize TBRI outside of their home, while working with the homeless population. After a move brought the Harts back to New York, Laurie began volunteering with Every Child Inc., a foster care and adoption resource ministry that serves eight counties in Western New York. When she began volunteering, Every Child was offering the TBRI Caregiver Package from the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at TCU, but Laurie encouraged the organization to begin hosting the Hope for the Journey Conference. With the support of a Show Hope scholarship to TBRI Practitioner Training, Laurie completed the training in October 2023. Today, she works with Every Child in a volunteer position as the Family Support Coordinator, organizing their Hope for the Journey Conference events, teaching TBRI classes, and leading parent-support meetings.

2 photos: On the left, Laurie Hart's son and daughter. On the right, Laurie Hart standing next to a TCU banner at TBRI training.

“When I started volunteering, I told them, ‘We need to be hosting Hope for the Journey,’” Laurie said. “It is a lower commitment for parents to just ‘get their feet wet’ with TBRI.”

Every Child first offered the Hope for the Journey Conference in 2022, and now, in its third year of hosting, they are offering it in three locations. With Laurie’s encouragement, Every Child New York is hopeful to continue to utilize their connections with local churches as well as the department of social services.

“We know we can get it out, not only to believers but also to the secular world,” Laurie said. “Both personally and professionally, TBRI is lifegiving. To be able to teach other people and give these tools to other people, I get so excited. I tell people a lot, if you want to adopt, you are not just signing up to be a parent, you are also signing up to be a healing agent in that child’s life.

“TBRI is all about connecting to the heart of a child, helping them heal and giving them all of the resources they need to do that,” Laurie continued. “TBRI is a healing strategy for kids who have experienced trauma, and that is the gospel. TBRI is the gospel on display.”

Laurie Hart and her family throwing leaves in the air

This story is part of our annual Summer Newsletter. To learn more about Show Hope TBRI Practitioner Scholarships, we encourage you to visit showhope.org/tbri.

Stories like this are not possible without the love, support, and generosity of faithful donors. We would be honored for you to join us in this work through a financial gift. You can give today at showhope.org/give.

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