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March 2024 Advocate Spotlight: Megan Behan

We invite you to meet Megan Behan, nominated by her Case Supervisor, Erica Avedikian. Megan has been an outstanding Advocate since 2018, serving on five cases!

We asked Megan to share her experience as an Advocate.

Advocate Megan Behan
Is there anything unique about your background that contributes to your approach to advocacy?

I was an international adoptee, born outside of the United States in the Dominican Republic. My experience is one of the main reasons I chose to become an Advocate, to amplify the voice of a child.

How did you become interested in volunteering as an Advocate?

I learned of Child Advocates through a friend of mine who was an Advocate and her social media posts about her volunteer work. It sparked my curiosity to get involved.

Did you have any reservations about volunteering?

I went into it with an open mind and an open heart, because it was so near and dear to my own life. My experience as an adoptee has driven my advocacy. I was in the same situation as some of the children we serve when I was adopted. I also have the experience of being reunited with my mother as an adult. You spend your whole life wondering where your mother is when you’ve been adopted.

Explain in your own words the work you do as a volunteer Advocate. Why is it essential for a child in foster care?

Children in care oftentimes don’t have the ability to be able to speak for their own needs. I would have loved to have someone speak in my best interests when I was an infant because I wasn’t able to do so. This is why I prefer to serve on cases with children under the age of five. A driving force for me is to always focus on what is in the best interest of a child. Knowing your heritage is an important human right. We have a right to know where we come from. My most recent case was an ICWA [Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978] case, and I’m so happy we were able to gain permanency for her with biological family so that she can keep the connection to her family and cultural heritage. It’s so important to have that grounding in your background for one’s mental health and wellbeing.

What has surprised you most about your advocacy work?

Children—no matter the circumstances—want to be with their mom and dad. I can speak to that desire. It doesn’t matter what the financial capabilities or life circumstances of a family are—children want to be with their family. When I first reunited with my family in the Dominican Republic, they had no running water or electricity or any of the creature comforts that we have in America. My family had nothing but their love to give each other. The love of family and the connection between each other transcend time. That is the lens through which I see advocacy: family is family regardless of your capabilities and children want to be with their families. I’m super grateful for the loving home I had growing up, but there wasn’t ever a moment where I wasn’t longing to know my own heritage and my native language.

What has been the most difficult aspect of being an advocate? Most rewarding?

The hardest part is realizing we can’t want a safe family reunification more than the parents do. It is hard to see parents unable to follow their service plans to make changes for their child. It is hard to see them struggle due to their own trauma, life circumstances, and some of the choices they’ve made. Sometimes we can’t influence those necessary changes. Parents must want to get better. The most rewarding part is being able to facilitate a different life for a child. I didn’t have a better life growing up than I would have had in the Dominican Republic, just a different life. We get to help a family in crisis. It’s not like this everywhere. In Montgomery County, we work to help families make changes so that children can stay with their family when safe and possible.

What would you like the community to know about children involved in the child welfare system?

Volunteering for such a great organization is an opportunity to be a changemaker for children in your community. These are children who are growing up in our own community. If you can volunteer, by yourself or even with a friend, just do it, because you are pouring into a community and its future. Children are our future.

Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?

Attending the adoption ceremony for one of my previous cases. It was such a long case, and it was wonderful to know that it ended with the little girl being able to stay within her community. It was uncertain what Mom’s future had in store, and she was adopted into a loving home of fictive kin. Her mother had named a close family friend as someone who could care for her child when she was born. I remember holding her two weeks after she was born. She was as long as from the tip of my fingers to my elbow. To see her adopted as a bubbly, vibrant toddler two years later was a joy.

Anything else you want to share about Child Advocates of Montgomery County?

I’m so grateful to be a part of something larger than myself and being able to pour love and care into these children.

Change a CHILD’s story today. Impact our community forever.

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