There are no beds in the state of Alabama dedicated to child victims of human trafficking. In fact, there are fewer than 600 beds in the entire country. Even though Blanket Fort Hope’s goal is to build a crisis center for these children, we very much lean on educating the foster parents who so regularly find themselves guardians of a trafficked child.
The signs are easy to miss. The struggles and the trauma are real.
Due to the sensitive nature and very real dangers of the world of human trafficking, names have been removed from this real story to protect the families of those involved.
Eleven years ago, my husband and I decided to pursue a life as adoptive foster parents. We had experiences with all kinds of children and we knew that most of them came from a system that didn’t want them. This alone would often leave them traumatized and troubled. And we knew that. And sometimes it wasn’t easy.
Then one day we fostered a young lady of 14 years old. While she was definitely a troubled child, we never thought that her trauma would have run into sexual abuse. That was until she disclosed to a Christian counselor at our church that, prior to being placed into the foster system, she had been abused by a family member.
We went about the business of pouring our lives into this young girl, which is something nobody had ever done for her. It didn’t happen overnight, but in time, her exterior, hardened by years of neglect and abuse, began to soften. She started showing small signs of improvement like making good grades and better decisions for herself. We would later adopt this girl and we lovingly welcomed her into our family. She has a future now, she has a hope.
I wonder about some of the other children we’ve fostered over the years. There were others who showed signs of being trafficked; STDs, truancy, sexually hyperactivity, drugs, and tattoos in adolescence. We never adopted those girls and they would all leave our home at some point. But I wonder, was there anything I could have done? If we had just known the signs, could we have gotten them help sooner?
In a small part, it’s this guilt that gives me and my husband a heart to educate other foster parents about human trafficking. We want them to know what the signs are so when a child comes into their home and they are lashing out, they might be able to answer the question, “Has this child been sexually abused or trafficked?” Blanket Fort Hope is absolutely necessary to give these young women a future that might otherwise never come to them. We see their mission, we believe in it, and we trust that the love of Christ will bring hope to the victims they would rescue.
In 2020, we need our communities to hear more than just the statistics. We need to put real stories in front of real people to see real change. If you or someone you know has been a victim, we would love to be able to give you a voice and a chance to make a difference. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you share your story anonymously.
To learn more about our mission or donate, please visit www.blanketforthope.org
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking and needs help, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-(888)-373–7888.