KALISPELL — There are currently 3,276 foster kids in Montana and only 900 foster homes. It's an eye-opening stat that leads to more questions than answers. Recently, we introduced you to Sam and Honey Newton who were named Co-Foster Parents of the Year for the State of Montana.
Sam is an assistant law professor at the University of Idaho. Honey owns her own midwifery and family healthcare clinic in Kalispell called Heart & Hands and also teaches nursing at Gonzaga University.
Despite their busy professional lives, the Newtons saw a need in Montana's foster care system and wanted to help any way they could. A house of love, trust, and acceptance - that’s what the Newton family in Kalispell has built over the last eight years, giving foster kids a loving home.
“You’re always welcome here, you always have a place to go, and I think that’s probably the most rewarding thing is just that concept of, you belong,” said Honey.
Sam and Honey brought in their first child in need about eight years ago - a friend of their eldest son who was sleeping in a car. Since then, they have fostered eight children along with raising seven biological children.
“We have biological kids, we’ve had fosters that have aged out, we’ve had fosters that have gone on, we’ve had fosters that have moved to different homes, we’ve had some that we’ve adopted and some that we’re hoping to adopt, so a full range and stage of kids,” said Sam.
The Newtons have fostered children through different stages of hardship, including one unspeakable act, when they say a teenager with special needs was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. Thanks to community support, the Newtons took in the teenager and are now raising her young child.
“There were so many dynamics at play, we reached out, and the community responded, we had donations of clothes because she came with nothing, we had baby stuff come, we had her healthcare needs provided for her and that enabled us to just do what we needed to do which was focus on loving her and keeping her safe,” said Honey.
The Newtons will continue to raise and love foster children because they say there is a constant need in Montana. They’re also encouraging families on the fence of fostering to jump in with open arms.
“If you feel that draw in your heart you should do it because there’s a need and I don’t think there’s anything more rewarding then stepping into a life of a kid who’s experienced some trouble and being able to just give them some hope and some stability, watch them grow and progress, it’s very rewarding I think, more than it is challenging,” said Sam.
“Maybe I guess the best thing I can tell you is don’t be afraid of it, it’s the most wonderful thing that could ever happen to you,” said Honey.
Sam said the joy and love shared between a foster parent and child is indescribable. “I wear a ring that was made by our first foster kid, and that ring, he said to me, 'Thank you for being the dad that I never had,' he gave that to me for a Christmas present and that is the type of payoff that you get,” Sam tells MTN News.
There's no specific income required to serve as a foster parent. There are certain steps such as home study and backgrounds check that must be passed. You can contact the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services for information about adoption and/or fostering at 1-866-9-FOSTER (1-866-936-7837).
Who May Adopt? Either married couples or single adults who have an approved pre-placement evaluation or adoptive home study may adopt in the State of Montana.
How do I get a home study? If you live in Montana, you may begin the process by contacting your county office of Child and Family Services. If you live outside of Montana, contact your state or local office that provide these services.
What about training? Montana Child and Family Services require and provide special training to all of our foster and adoptive parents. The training is offered at various times and places around the State of Montana. If you live in Montana, information is available from your county CFS office. If you live outside of Montana, contact your state or local office that provides these services.