"When you see this little girl, what do you imagine for her childhood?"
Story by
Tricia Collins

When you see this little girl, what do you imagine for her childhood? Her future?

Let me share with you the grim reality of what her childhood really looked like.

This beautiful little girl, with such bright light shining in her eyes, belies what was the daily reality of her childhood just outside of Seattle, Washington, where she endured horrific physical, sexual, and emotional abuse for more than a decade. Sadly, that abuse came at the hands of the one who God had entrusted to teach her of love and trust—that of her own father.

Finally, on one August day when she was 10 years old, she broke her family’s unspoken code of shame and silence and told her older sibling of her father’s nighttime visits to her bedroom. This was the day she began to find her own voice and stand up for herself. Her father was made to leave the home by Child Protective Services.

She then made the brave decision to run away from home at the age of 14. With nowhere to go and no hope for the future, she ended up making a very serious suicide attempt. It was these events that made child protective services aware of her, eventually landing her in the foster care system broken, battered, and abused. Feelings of loneliness and rejection attributed to her being a very angry young lady, full of rage at the world at the ripe old age of 14. Her journey in foster care was rough as she bounced from home to home, but everything in her life began to change when a family from her own home church decided to become licensed foster parents and take her into their home.

The story of my childhood abuse might be hard to hear, but I ask that you not look away. I deeply believe it’s important for us all to understand the reality of the types of abuse children are still suffering and how you are the key to helping them heal.

BUT GOD

Ruth & Rich Hedman went to my own home church and decided to get licensed to do foster care. They took me into their home and into their family not for a day or a week, but for a lifetime. When they said yes to foster care licensing and taking in an angry teen girl, they could never have imagined that one day they would have a granddaughter who is named after them—one that my husband and I also adopted through foster care.

There are many children in Montana today who are like I was: abused in every way imaginable. These stories are hard to hear, but we must not look away. It’s not enough to just feel bad. We must act.  

I endured much trauma in my childhood, and by the time I went into foster care, I was consumed with anger and rage, which didn’t make it easy for a family to care for me.

But one family did, and it changed everything.

My name is Tricia, and I was a child in foster care. I’m now a foster and adoptive mom who advocates for children in foster care through my work as Director of Missional Impact at Child Bridge.  

I pray that knowing my story will bring you closer to those whose lives you are helping to change.

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