I’d like to tell you a story. A story about resilience, courage, love, redemption and faith. A story a little bit shocking, a lot sad, a little sensational, but filled with a lot of hope.
Let me introduce you to Victoria. From the tender age of eight years old, Victoria has been a victim of human trafficking. Taken from her home country in Europe, she spent the next several years of her life in a hell that you can only imagine.
But Victoria made it out. Refusing to accept her fate, she ran. And then they would beat her. And she would run again. And they would burn her. As she told her story she showed me the scars on her arms. I choked back tears, in awe of this creature before me, this brave young woman. All of my mundane worries of everyday life fell away. Victoria was a warrior. She was a Phoenix. What touched me the most is she didn’t even realize how courageous she was.
As I reached out to her I said, “I’m so sorry that happened to you. So very sorry.” Her response fit her perfectly and showed just how amazing she is.
“It’s okay. I’m here. I’m alive,” with a smile on her face. This twenty year old woman had managed to teach me everything I needed to know about resilience in the short hour that I sat with her. I don’t really have heroes, but if I did Victoria is surely one of them.
We got back to the matter at hand, the reason fate had brought us together. I watch as she lovingly strokes her belly, comforting her little one that safely resides within her. In six weeks or less Victoria will welcome her fourth child into the world. She loves him. She’s named him. She has a pink baby swing in her living room that she managed to obtain from someone feeling charitable. But that’s the only clue you’ll see, besides her obvious impending motherhood, that a new baby will soon be here.
Victoria has, thus far, been supported by the church in her community. They pay her rent and other bills and supply her little family with food. This support, however, has been contingent on the relinquishment of her baby when he arrives. She’s told them she doesn’t want to give him up. It always ends in an argument. When Victoria came to SOS she didn’t really see any other way. If keeping her baby meant homelessness for her and all of her kids, how could she possibly not go through with an adoption?
There are still so many people in this world who don’t see the U.S. adoption system for what it truly is. They really think they are “helping” by coercing women into giving up their babies. It’s obvious this is also true of the people helping Victoria.
Victoria is smart. She’s forthcoming, she’s willing to do whatever she has to do to keep her family together. You see, she’s already lost one child to adoption. It was supposed to be an open adoption but it’s been months since she’s received any response from the adoptive parents.
She has stacks of paperwork already put together when I walk in her door. Immigration papers, the Department of Homeland Security, WIC, and a contract from an attorney she was forced to go see last week. She didn’t sign the contract though. She remembered I told her not to sign ANYTHING when she told me she had the appointment. Even though great pressure was put on her to sign, she resisted. Did I mention Victoria is strong?
The contract is from a local family law attorney. It’s essentially a contract to do business and a legal agreement to pay a certain amount of money to retain the services of this attorney and what the hourly fees thereafter would be. I ask, “they want YOU to sign this and pay for an attorney to give your baby up for adoption?” She replies, “No, they want me to sign it but said the adoptive parents would pay the fees.”
It becomes obvious why there was such an uproar when she wouldn’t sign it. Sure, if she went through with an adoption I know the adoptive parents would pay the legal fees. But if she changes her mind, it’s just something to hold over her head to coerce her into relinquishment. I feel sick looking at it.
We end our visit with a group prayer. I thank God for bringing Victoria into my life and ask him to help her stay strong and endure the pressure she is facing. I assure Victoria that God does not make mistakes and that she was the intended mother for her child.
We hug, we make future plans. When I walk out that door I know there is no turning back. Victoria is now a part of my family. It is done.
Victoria needs your help. We CAN do this. She was a victim but doesn’t need to be anymore. Please help us empower her and help her heal. We got this. I know we do.
For ways to help please visit http://www.facebook.com/adoptionSOS
Or search SAVING OUR SISTERS on Facebook.
If you make a monetary donation via http://www.cubirthparents.org and choose the “Donate” button and select Saving Our Sisters and in the comment field type “Victoria.”
Thank you all for all that you do.