Why You Need Support And How To Find It

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

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On the journey of adoption, foster care and special needs parenting, in particular, we've experienced numerous difficult and heartbreaking moments. The only way we were able to make it through these trying times was the encouragement and unconditional love we received from our support community.

We walked in feeling alone and defeated. We walked out feeling empowered and supported. There was nothing magical about the meeting we were attending. It was simply 8 families, all going through what we were going through, all having adopted from the foster care system, sitting around a large conference room table, sharing their pain and agony with openness and honesty.

It was as if each couple rolled their sleeves up and revealed the same wounds we were working hard to cover up. The reason for our cover up? Fear. Mostly fear. We feared criticism, judgement, and mostly, failure!

That night we learned how valuable a strong support community is to the success of your parenting. Our whole outlook on adoption, foster care, and special needs parenting changed from that single support group meeting. In the years since, we’ve spent a vast amount of time investing in this because we recognize that we can’t do this on our own.

The What?

Neither can you. If you’ve been an adoptive, foster, or special needs parent for any length of time you already know how much you need support. You’re well aware of the fact that you cannot do this on your own. And, truthfully speaking, you weren’t meant to.

You need a community of people around you who understand exactly what it’s like to be you, exactly what it’s like to raise the child you are raising, exactly what you go through as an adoptive mother or father of a difficult child, and precisely the kind of trials you face as a foster parent, or special needs parenting.

The Who?

You need a certain type of people. It won’t include everyone. Who, then, are you looking for? What are the types of people you need in your inner circle? From our experience, we’ve discovered that you really need 4 types of people:

  • People who are non-judgemental. You don’t need anymore judgement than you’ve already received. Your inner-circle must be judgement free.
  • People who get it. You need people who get where you’re coming from. People who understand the trials and heart-ache that adoption, foster care, and special needs parenting bring.
  • People who are in the trenches. People who get it are usually found in the trenches with you. These are people who living a very similar life to you. People who are also licensed foster parents or parenting a child with a special need.
  • People who point. No, not people who point at you! You don’t need anymore of that. You want people who listen to you, cry with you, but then will actively point you to a healthier conclusion in your thinking and life outlook.

This is exactly who your inner-circle of support should be built with. Call it a blueprint, if you will, for building a community whom you can lean on through good times and bad. Back to what I mentioned earlier though- it won’t include everyone. There will be many “nice” people who seem genuine but really do not understand you. One of the quickest signs that someone does not belong in your support community, is what I call the “Hail Factor.” People who hail you as a hero can also be quick to judge you at a moment’s notice.

The reason is that they really don’t understand you. They’re observing you from a distance, not walking an inch in your shoes, or even attempting to anytime soon. I know this sounds harsh, but it’s true. Take it from us- we’ve made the mistake of letting people in who ended up turning on us later on.

The How?

Every time we write on this topic, or teach it at foster or adoptive parent conferences, we receive the same question- “How do you find people who are non-judgmental, who get it, and really understand what it’s like to be me?” That’s a great question. One we wrestled over for years, as we worked to surround ourselves, and our family, with the right people. The quick answer is, you interview people.

You read that right- interview! Now, this is not like a regular job interview where you sit down with someone and ask them a series of questions. That would be a bit awkward. The way you interview potential support community members is by subtly releasing bits and pieces of your family’s story. For instance, we have children who were drug and alcohol exposed at birth. It’s created a slew of special needs, some extremely difficult and trying. When we meet a kind-hearted person for the first time, we don’t go into great detail on this.

Instead, we release general, but explanatory, details on what we go through on a daily basis. Then, we watch their reaction. The way they handle the general details is an indication (for the most part) of how they will handle the in-depth details.

Hope For The Journey.

If you read this blog often, then you probably know that we talk about hope. A lot! The majority of hopeful times, for us, has come through our support community. Our inner-circle. We could fill up an entire book on all of the times we’ve been there for one another when life was tough.

I believe the only way to make it through life, especially as an adoptive, foster, or special needs parent, is with a strong support community. We’ve found hope, and you can too!

Have you struggled to find the support you need on the journey of adoption, foster care and special needs parenting? Share your story with us.

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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.