48: Tori Hope Petersen | Hope For The Foster Child
Tori Hope Petersen
Tori Petersen graduated from Hillsdale College. She studied Christian studies and psychology while running track.
She spent her summers working for her church and on Capitol Hill writing a policy to present to congressmen and women and White House policy staffers about how to reduce abuse and neglect within foster homes.
Tori is now living in Minnesota with her husband, Jacob, and son, Leyonder.
Tori and I chat about being removed from her mom’s care at a young age, moving from one foster home to another, the circumstances God used to open her heart to Him, discovering God was the father she had always longed for, allowing foster children to be the voice for policy change in our current system, and the longing for discipleship she experienced as a college student in crisis.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
5:18 Tori begins sharing her story of growing up as a child who spent a stint of time in a foster home, before being reunified with her mother until age 12. She then returned to the foster system where she lived in 12 different homes before emancipating out
8:35 Tori discusses replacing the lies spoken over her as a child with the truth.
Mire: a situation or state of difficulty, distress or embarassment from which it is hard to exit oneself
“I am made in the image of God and that is the most important aspect of the truth. It is not about who I am alone, but who I am because Christ made me and because He dwells in me. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him.”
“Sometimes I get so worried, ‘Am I glorifying God?’….God calls us to glorify Him, but He also calls us to enjoy Him. We have to find enjoyment in those little things that are moving us toward God rather than tearing apart those little sins and big sins that are moving us away from God. We can acknowledge those, but ultimately grace has to cover over those.”
13:02 Tori shares the events that led to her being placed in long term foster care
“There is something about when we are ignoring a blanant aspect of someone’s identity we’re not learning from them, we’re not learning how their fully made in God’s image, and then we’re losing knowledge not just of ourselves, not just about the neighbor we are supposed to love, but about Christ.”
“If you can’t sit across the table from uncomfortable, you can not sit across the table from love.”
18:47 Tori shares what it was like in the her various foster care homes
“Often times I say, ‘Oh, I went through 12 homes,’ and it was difficult, but I learned so much about why people are the way they are. I learned that every good attribute that people have is for a reason and every bad behavior, bad characteristic someone has usually comes from a hurt that has been inflicted upon them.”
21:47 Tori shares specifically about the impact her high school track coach and final foster mother had on her faith in Jesus.
Her (Ayn Rand) philosophy led Tori to ask all types of questions about God.
“My track coach encouraging me that I could be successful despite being a foster youth….really was a catalyst to find confidence in Christ.”
“I love the mystery of God.”
“I was always bitter that I didn’t have a dad….’If you love me, why wouldn’t you give me a father, God?’ It was this realization, as I was getting my questions answered, that God did give me a Father. He was my Father. He was Lord of my life. He had protected me in every little thing. Every foster home prepared me for the next. Every no prepared me for the next yes. In realizing that I believe God wanted to bring the most glory to Himself through my life in making Him my Heavenly Father.”
35:24 Tori shares about her time on Capitol Hill writing a policy to present to white house policy staffers, congressmen and women about how to reduce abuse and neglect within foster homes. She shares some ways our state and federal government could go about improving the foster care system
“We have to view the foster youth and foster parent as the experts. Often times, we look to case workers, people who have the statistics, the congressmen and the congresswomen, which are good resources, but they aren’t the people in the trenches. The people who are in the trenches are the foster youth and foster family who are dealing with the trauma daily, who are butting heads daily, forgiving one another daily. It we look to them and ask the questions, we’re going to get a lot of answers to solve the problems that we have in the foster care system.”
41:13 Tori shares about becoming pregnant out of wed-lock while attending a conservative Christian college
Tori’s Blog: The Pro-Life Conservative’s Contradiction
“We had so many questions. We were hurting. We were in crisis. We knew what to do. Abortion was never a question, but we didn’t know what to do in terms of our faith. How do you communicate this to people? I am still a Christian. I still love the Lord, but I have walked in sin and now everybody knows about it and no one guided us through that.”
“I just wish someone would have asked us, ‘Why do you think you guys did this? Why do you think you sinned?’….People think this sin is having sex before marriage and it is, but the sin is caused by an idol in our heart.”
“Sometimes we don’t confront people, because we don’t want to expose the sin in ourselves.”
51:57 Tori shares some lessons she has learned, as a result of her life experiences, that she would like listeners to know
“The greatest lesson I have learned in foster care is everyone is the way they are for a reason.”