“They took her because my ex showed up at my house and he wasn’t supposed to be there because of the restraining order. It’s not my fault though, what could I do, I didn’t tell him he could come over.” Kara Mclean says as she discusses why Child Protective Services took her first born daughter away from her. She is completely open when it comes to discussing the fact that her child was taken from her though her explanation is vague and opposes what other sources state as the reason her child was placed in foster care. However, she often brings it up the loss of her daughter in casual conversation with coworkers and customers at her job. Locals/coworkers who have known Mclean say that her daughter, Aria, was taken because her father was molesting her and Mclean was turning a blind eye to the situation. This has not been confirmed by Mclean and despite the rumours she always greets everyone with a smile and kind heart. Kara has not seen Aria in 2 years but keeps photos of her displayed around the house and speaks about her often.
Kara states that her life was really hard after losing everything and even though things aren’t perfect and she still can’t afford a home she’s happy to have a partner who is kind to her and a new baby. She is currently engaged to Stephen Noykos and now has a 3-month-old daughter, Milah Noykos. They live in a one bedroom apartment in Shepherd, Mich. Kara works at a local diner as a hostess, where she met Aaron Ginowsky, a coworker who is currently living with the family after losing his home in a divorce. Though Aaron can not contribute to the household financially he helps the couple by giving them rides because neither can afford to own a car. Stephen works a few days out of the week but does not have a steady job at the moment, when he isn’t working he spends his days searching for ways to gain income. Kara works afternoons and is always eager to return to Milah, who rarely leaves her arms when she is home.
My first time visiting the Finnerty family farm I met with Dale Finnerty, as I watched him execute his morning routine of feeding his calves he fed me some interesting history on the development of the farm. Dale inherited the farm from his father, who is currently 80 years old and still actively working on the farm.
“Sometimes I think I’ll have to tie him to a chair just to get him to sit still for a few minutes.” Dale says when telling me how his father is still working hard despite his age. I’m sure it’s that same hard working Finnerty spirit that has kept the farm up and running, and always family owned, for the past 75 years. The Finnerty’s land consist of 1280 acres and spreads out an entire square mile. They have a beautiful park near the center of the farm filled with charming farm antiques and family memorabilia as well as a gazebo and bridge built by Dale and his brothers (the family celebrated their farm’s 75th anniversary in this very park with family and friends this past July). The farm began as a dairy farm, and was also a rabbit farm for a short amount of time a few decades ago, and has progressed to a successful cattle farm that currently houses approximately 700 head of cattle. Dale, his father and his nephew take on the daily tasks of the farm, with occasional help from Dale’s children.
Dale and his wife Jane, who works at a local hospital, live in the same farm house Dale himself was raised in. Together they have raised five children, Joseph, Amy, Ashley, Natalie and Robert. Three of their children have moved out and Natalie, 18, & Robert, 14, still live at home with their parents.
Spending time with the Finnerty family was a heart warming experience. I expected to feel out of place and awkward intruding on a family’s quality time together but I was completely wrong. They were all so welcoming and sweet even though I was only there a few days and they barely knew me they accepted me genuinely. Just watching them interact with each other was like watching one of those cheesy family sitcoms, but in the best way. They were the most perfect family I’d ever met, their home was perfect and they were all so close and family oriented. I didn’t know families like that existed anymore. I cherish the moments I spent with them and feel so lucky to have met such an amazing and successful family, and I wish them another 75 years of continuous growth, love and happiness.