When you hear the words “foster care,” or “adoption,” what do you think of? Do your first thoughts go to the children who have been removed from their homes, separated from loved ones? Or, do you think about the struggling parents who, despite their love for their children, just cannot provide necessary care? Maybe you think about crammed foster homes and worry about children left with unfit families. The unfortunate reality is that there are a lot of children living with trauma — children who are subjected to the most horrific scenes like violence, drug abuse and neglect.
Megan Newton ’13 has seen these situations firsthand through her work as a foster care specialist, the first position in human services she held post-graduation. As a student at Olivet College, Newton participated in service learning trips, which she credits for helping her identify that she enjoyed supporting people going through emotional distress. Those service trips gave her an opportunity to see the world from a new lens, and her education in sociology and anthropology helped prepare her for a successful career.
Today, Newton works as a foster care adoption specialist for a private agency in Michigan that helps children find long-term homes. “I think a lot of people are under the impression that adoption is synonymous with taking children away from their families, but I really want people to know that it is our number one goal to reunite families whenever possible. We always place children with their families if we can,” Newton said. “I also work with children who are unmatched, which means that there is not a family option and they are waiting to be adopted.” If a child is unmatched, Netwon uses the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) for additional resources to help find children new homes.
Through her work, Newton has seen some truly amazing cases. One of her proudest moments was her last visit with a family who adopted three siblings after having been their foster parents for some time. The family was not licensed to foster but knew the children and worked with Newton. They wanted to offer help and keep the kids together. The family stuck through the process, became licensed and were able to take in the children. Newton remembers the joy she felt knowing that the children’s needs were being met and that they were together and happy.
Newton said, “I think there are a lot of people out there who might be interested in fostering or adopting, but they just don’t think they would be eligible to do so. Single parents and LGBTQ+ households can foster and adopt. The reality is, kids just want a safe and loving home.”
If you or a loved one are interested in learning more about fostering or adopting, visit michigan.gov for more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).