How A Simple Support Group Meeting Changed Our Life

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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Sometimes the moments we try to avoid the most end up having the biggest impact on our lives. We just have to open our hearts and minds to the experience. This was our story in 2011.

To be quite honest, I didn’t want to go! At all. We had this so-called “support group” date on our calendar for several weeks and every time I glanced at it, I cringed! Another waste of time, I thought to myself. Another defeating support group led by an over-confident and under-qualified facilitator who’s going to tell me how I’m failing as a foster parent!

Reluctantly, however, I got in our van with Kristin and our 6 small children, and drove toward the city. But I continued my rant. “They’re probably going to tell us all the things we’re doing wrong as parents,” I said to Kristin. “And then, they’ll belittle us and make us feel stupid in front of everyone!” I was growing more and more frustrated with every mile I drove. Little did I know…Kristin agreed!

She was also hesitant, and there was a reason.

The Judgement Road.

In our decade of parenting, nine of those as foster parents, we had been down the judgmental support group road before. Several times, in fact. Haughty looks, condescending tones, un-educated guesses, abrupt conclusions on how we were supposedly not parenting a traumatized child the right way, you name it!

We had our reasons for avoidance and they were many.

Admittedly, just before the meeting began, I plopped down in my seat in the conference room we were in, folded my arms, and pretended not to notice any of the other families. I just wanted to escape. When the facilitator entered the room and said a cheerful “hello” to everyone I faintly smiled back at her and promptly returned my gaze to the table before me.

But then something happened. She opened up the group by asking all of us to share our personal stories as foster-to-adopt parents, which nearly everyone was. Our pain, our fears, our heartbreak, our trials, everything was fair game. Around the table, each person shared honestly….even their greatest mistakes, and darkest sins. No one pretended to have all the answers, including the facilitator. As each person shared she simply nodded. Every now and then, she would softly say, “I know….this is hard….you’re not alone!”

Then it was our turn. We shared our story, we teared up, we shared our wounds, we laughed, and she nodded…at me…at us! My heart suddenly opened. My bad attitude drifted away. I felt understood. I felt heard. I felt hopeful! And I no longer felt alone.

The Power Of a Nod.

Let’s be honest. As adoptive, foster, or special needs parents, we all need someone to nod at us don’t we? We need someone to look at us and understand that we feel hopeless and exhausted sometimes. We need someone to hear us say that we feel disconnected from our kid and we don’t know how to reconnect. We need a voice that whispers, “I know, I’ve been there, you’re not alone, there is hope!”

Some of the most powerful, healing moments I’ve ever experienced as a human being or a parent have not come from reading a book, attending a workshop, or seeing a counselor (though there’s nothing wrong with any of this). They’ve come when I’ve discovered that other people, other parents, struggle through the same things I do. When I’ve discovered that someone else’s teenager made a horrible choice. Or someone else’s son battles tooth and nail with them over homework. Or someone else’s daughter has thrown embarrassing tantrums in public. Or other parents have felt like giving up and quitting like I’ve felt like doing before.

The point of this blog is NOT to give parents all the answers to their problems. It’s not a “how to do this” or “how to do that.” Truth is- we don’t have all the answers to everything that adoptive, foster or special needs parents struggle with. This blog is a nod. It’s an “I know. I’ve dealt with the same bad behavior. I’ve cried the same tears. I’ve felt the same hopeless feeling when my kid was out of control.”

Adoption, foster care, and special needs parenting is a journey, not a destination. It’s an adventure. And it’s one of the most painful, terrifying, joyful, difficult, miraculous things we will ever do as human beings. But it’s NOT hopeless. And you are NOT alone! We share a lot of the same wounds and scars. No matter what age you or your children are, or even what stage of life you’re in as a parent- You. Are. Not. Alone

In what ways have you felt hopeless as a parent in the past, or even now? How did you find hope? Share your story with us!

We will be LIVE on #Periscope today at 12:45 EDT to share some brand new exciting news about our platform and new site! Join us. Get the app here and once you’re in, search ‘Mike Berry’ or follow @ConfessParent.

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.