As foster and adoptive parents, Mike and Kristin Berry understand intimately what a lonely journey it can be parenting children with difficult early childhood beginnings. In 2012 they launched their blog, Confessions of an Adoptive Parent, to be a voice for foster and adoptive parents around the world, and have since augmented that with their Honestly Adoption Podcast.
The couple’s newest venture: A limited-enrollment online community meant to provide around-the-clock support and resources to adoptive parents.
The basic idea for the couple’s Oasis Community was formulated in 2016 and the following spring enrollment into the exclusive resource, training and support-driven community was opened. Just closing its most recent enrollment period last month, today there are already roughly 600 Oasis members paying the $16 monthly subscription fee.
“Our emphasis is high value content,” Mike Berry said. “It offers a 24/7, 365-day-a-year virtual support system with practical resources, training and parent-to-parent connection.”
The service is aimed at providing a baseline of post-adoption support, an area of the child welfare system that has received more attention in recent years. Pending changes in the collection of national data could soon provide a clearer indication of how many adoptions from foster care are disrupted after finalization.
The group provides several downloadable guides and articles that help families deal with situations that are often specific to fostering or adopting children who’ve experienced early childhood trauma. Oasis hosts Q&A sessions with adoption professionals and therapists on its platform, as well as having several video-based training options available to the group.
Another important aspect is the foster and adoptive parent care team that is available around the clock to chat online or even video call with parents. The care team members don’t offer legal or medical advice, but instead serve as a listening ear to parents who may be struggling to parent children with challenging behaviors.
Unlike other large Facebook groups that can get out of control, Berry said the tight-knit community provides the opportunity for care team members to reach out to families individually if group posts need to be addressed.
“They’re monitoring to make sure the conversation doesn’t go off topic or become attacking,” Berry said.
The membership costs $16 a month and the organization added about 150 new members during its most recent enrollment period. Berry said the venture does not turn a profit.
“The fees go to the care team and maintaining the site,” Berry said.
A definitive date hasn’t yet been set for the next enrollment period, but Berry said it will most likely be in spring of 2019.
“Even though there are 500-600 members, we desire to make it an exclusive, closed, intimate community,” Berry said. “We want to build that connection. We want to give foster and adoptive parents a safe place.”
Some of the site’s most recently added features include self-care videos where other adoptive parents share tips and tricks for taking care of themselves when parenting gets the best of them.
Berry said they’re also in the early stages of building an app for members that would allow them easier and more access to the group through their mobile devices.
For those interested in joining or learning more, visit https://confessionsofanadoptiveparent.com/joinoasis.