Why ‘Community’ Must Come Before ‘Education’ On The Adoptive Journey.

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

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Everyone of us on the adoptive journey has gone through training, seminars, and events to educate us on everything from trauma, to attachment, to crisis intervention. But education pales in comparison to our connection to others. Here's why:

I was talking to a close friend the other day when he said something that resonated deeply with me (and spawned an entire blog post :-)). He said, “The United States is one of the most educated countries around. We have trillions of articles at the touch of a button. Yet people still languish and wallow in despair and defeat. Not for lack of information, but rather lack of community and connection.”


That’s true. I’d probably be divorced, an alcoholic, bitter, angry all the time, or just a complete disaster in general, if not for our community of fellow foster and adoptive parents who have been there to hold us up when the road became tough. And us for them too. Community means everything on this journey. We believe you CAN’T do this journey successfully without it. It must always come before education.

Don’t get me wrong- I love education. I believe in it. Heck, a large part of our platform is dedicated to educating foster and adoptive parents. We sat through all of the trainings and gained a lot of head knowledge from them. Even some answers to our biggest issues with our kiddos. We’ve loved every second of the breakout sessions we’ve sat through at conferences, the one-day seminars we’ve attended, and more. Education is crucial, no doubt about it. But, it finishes second behind authentic community.

Can I just be real? When my kid is out of control, destroyed half my house, and I’m losing my s**t, and ready to get in my car and start driving as far and as fast as I can away from life, what I’ve learned in training sessions is not what changes my heart. But a friend who jumps in his car and meets me for a drink in the middle of the night, gets where I’m coming from because he’s there too, and willingly steps into the wreckage of my situation with me? That changes everything…100% of the time!

And those times when I’ve felt isolated and alone (which have been many)? Head knowledge hasn’t changed my circumstances. But a text message from a friend, telling me they’re praying for me, has!

No amount of education can lead a person out of isolation. Only community does that.

No amount of education can lead a person out of isolation. Only community does that.

You see, education requires knowing the exact right answer all the time, but it doesn’t require anyone to be WITH you. Empathy in authentic community doesn’t require an answer at all, but rather someone just coming along side and telling you: “I see you. You are not alone.”

I learned this from my friend….my FRIEND. Not a class, or a training event.

I’ve felt so lost and hopeless so many times over the past 15 years. And as a believer, I know the answer is Jesus. I know that’s my hope. But, truth is, He becomes the most real to me when a real flesh and blood human being, willingly, compassionately, and un-judgingly, sits down next to me in the crap of life, listens, understands, and commits to walking with me no matter what (or what I’ve said or done). Frankly, that’s how Jesus becomes real to anyone. (Let that be a lesson to any of you who think the right programming, flashy stage designs, or trendy church marketing is the answer!)

Yes, education is an important aspect of this journey…and you’ll always find us telling prospective foster and adoptive parents this. But we’ll tell them about the great need for authentic community first. Always.

The other night, another one of my friends (who’s also in this trench) reached out to me via text, and said this….

Prayers needed friend. It’s been an angry, frustrating, and sad night. The boys couldn’t hold their s**t together for a 30 minute trip to a drive in. We turned around the car and everyone lost it. Even my daughter. She broke down crying and told us she thought about throwing herself into traffic today.

I responded with,

Praying right now as we speak. Kristin’s talking to your wife. Hang in there. You are not alone. I’m in this wreckage with you.

That’s what community does for one another. That’s where hope is found. Education gives us technique, but community gives us connection to what is real. And what is real keeps us going.

Are you connected to community? How has it changed you? Share your story with us in the comment section below.

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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.