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

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:

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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.”

Yep!

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.

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.

Question: Are you connected to community? How has it changed you? Share your story with us in the comment section below. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • This post gave me goose bumps. It’s so true! Connection and community are so needed! I don’t know how many times friends have talked me off a cliff, assured me that I’m doing a good job and nodded their head in understanding when rough days have come my way. As an adoptive mom of four, I’m SO thankful for the other adoptive parents I’ve been able to connect with that have held me up along the way. Thank you Mike, for your true, good words.

    • Sarah, you are most welcome. So glad you liked the post. 😉

  • Rebecca H

    Those kinds of friends are hard to find. I cherish the few like that I’ve had. Wish I had more.

    • You definitely hang on to them when you find them, right? We do too!

  • Anon

    This is such an appeal for churches to be active participants in one another’s lives. The body being The Body of Christ will also make our parenting road look different than that of unbelievers, and will reflect our triune God’s glory!! I needed this word of encouragement to trust and be trusted. Thank you!!!

    • Michelle Sackett McKinney

      Amen!