Nadia Herion

Nadia Herion, 32, was placed into foster care at 13. Now, she’s a social worker in Lake Havasu City.

When Nadia Herion was 13 years old, she was removed from her home after suffering sexual abuse from her stepfather. With one little backpack full of a few clothes in hand, she was given a choice — go to a group home and stay at the same school or be placed in a foster family.

At the time, she lived in North Carolina. Herion chose to go with the foster family — the only one in Rowan County, covering 524 square miles and housing almost 150,000 residents.

“I had visited the group home before, for a summer camp or something,” Herion recalled. “The kids slept in cottages and had cottage mothers, and that wasn’t really appealing to me. Plus, I didn’t really like my school, so I was down to leave.”

After roughly one year of living with her foster family, she was adopted at 14 — despite being told initially by social workers that it was unlikely.

“I was really grateful,” Herion said. “Most people want newborns and toddlers. I was also really fortunate that I didn’t have to move from home to home like so many kids do in the foster care system.”

Now, 32-year-old Herion wants to give hope and assistance to other youth, like she needed as a child. She became a licensed master social worker and lives in Lake Havasu City. Herion currently works as a behavioural health medical management specialist. She’s also used her license to provide therapy to local children and families.

Foster care saved Herion’s life, she said.

“People need to give foster kids the benefit of doubt,” she said. “I feel like there’s a lot of negative stigma that surrounds foster kids, as if they are ‘damaged’ or ‘bad,’ so to speak. They’re just looking for a loving home.”

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