Nobody told her what trauma looks like in children. In her mind, she was going to adopt this beautiful little boy from an orphanage in Uganda, and life would continue as it always had. Callie Lackey, and her husband Karl, had no frame of reference for the tornado of trauma that would sweep through their house when they brought their son home. They were swimming in deep water as they tried to parent a little boy who experienced his entire world through one simple question: “How do I survive?”. The question seems so simple, but in reality, it dictates every single action of kids from hard places - and it can cripple even the most prepared parent.
Six months into life at home, Callie was drowning. Fear, anxiety, hopelessness - and the often asked but never vocalized question that haunts post-adoptive families, “What have I done?” hung in the air. In her attempt to try anything that might work, Callie found a local therapist who specializes in Attachment Therapy, which is based on the idea that as humans we form attachments with those around us: healthy and unhealthy. They’re formed during a pattern known as the Trust Cycle where a child feels a need, they cry, the need is met, the child then feels safe and loved. Alternatively, the child feels a need, they cry, the need is unmet, the child has to take care of the need themselves, they do not feel safe and loved - they feel like they have to protect themselves because the world around them is unsafe. These beliefs form in the first two years of life, and they become the foundation of how we, as people, view the world. This therapist worked with Callie and her family to form healthy attachments with their new son, and in the process introduced Callie to the Karen Purvis Institute for Child Development, based out of Texas. Callie began implementing their technique called, Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) in her home and began seeing changes in her home very quickly.
As a guidance counselor, Callie recognized that this issue of trauma in children is more widespread than just with adopted children. She began using TBRI strategies with students at school, and again, saw success. Wanting to learn as much as she could, Callie signed herself up to become a TBRI practitioner and while she was there, she became even more certain that this idea - that connection is the most vital aspect of any encounter with children - is the cornerstone of true healing for children from hard places. TBRI changed her family, and it changed the children at school… could it change Jacksonville?
A dream began to form in her heart, to change the landscape of trauma parenting in Jacksonville, FL. Armed with passion, education, and personal experience, Callie created Connected Engagement, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about complex developmental trauma and provide vital trauma informed care education, training and direct services to parents, schools, and child service organizations in Jacksonville, FL. For Callie, change started with connection… and it’s a change she wants to see implemented in the world around her. In the words of her mentor, the late Karen Purvis, when you connect with the heart of a child, anything is possible.