After 20 years of being trafficked, woman plans for stronger future

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. It's the exploitation of a human being through the means of force, fraud, or coercion, with the goal of benefiting from the victim's labor or sexual commerce. When victims escape, they need support getting back to normal life.

Tamara, Human Trafficking Survivor

February 03, 2020

Ten years ago, I was pregnant for the first time, and I was in jail.

Me being there didn’t mean that I loved my baby any less. I didn’t want my child to end up in the system. My life circumstances wouldn’t mean a life sentence for his. I started looking into options and found Bethany Christian Services. It was scary at first—but I was strengthened with the support of my pregnancy counselor, Megan. I knew it wasn’t something I had to do alone, and I knew the decision was mine. From there, I felt God directing my steps, and I chose to make an adoption plan for my son. His adoptive parents are amazing, and my son is growing up to become an incredible young man—something I’ve watched happen since day one.

I became pregnant with my second son a few years later. Honestly, I was struggling to survive. Every day was a battle, and I knew adoption was my choice—the best choice—for my baby. With zero judgment, Megan stood with me during my second pregnancy and journey with adoption. Both of my sons have incredible families that continue to include me in their lives.

Because of those experiences, I knew where to turn when I learned I was pregnant for a third time—while in jail again. Life isn’t easy, and I’ve battled for mine. My dad left when I was little. One time, growing up, I was mad at my mom and ran away from home. I was living in the streets when I was first approached and promised the world. I was only 12 years old when I was first sold for sex.

I just wanted to be loved and accepted. But they preyed on me. By the time I turned 13, I was lost in the world of human trafficking. Human trafficking is one of the world’s darkest crimes. It may seem like an issue that only exists in other parts of the world, but it happened to me, right here at home in the Midwest. It stole my childhood and more than two decades of my life. I was in and out of jail, being abused, and struggling with addiction—trapped in a cycle I knew I had to break before it broke me.

That’s why, when I learned I was pregnant with my daughter, I reached out for help again. I knew God had a plan and that Bethany was a part of it. This time, Linda was my pregnancy counselor. It didn’t matter where I was—sitting in jail, behind bars and pregnant, trying to make the best decision for myself and my baby. Linda looked past my life circumstance and focused on me, Tamara, a woman, a warrior, a mom, and a survivor. The jail’s rules were strict, but we made it work. I chose to make an adoption plan for my daughter. During visiting hours, Linda would bring adoptive family profiles for me to look at. She did an amazing job taking care of everything. Through Bethany’s Life Impact Fund, Linda made sure I had envelopes to write to her and phone time to call when I needed to talk. I was able to pay for my prenatal medicine.

It allowed me the freedom and dignity lost in 20 years’ worth of working the streets.

When I finally met Kelly and Tim, my daughter’s adoptive parents, I knew they were the ones. I told them over a video visit that they would be my baby’s parents. With one short week until my scheduled C-section, Linda was a solid source of strength and support.

And then the big day came: the world welcomed Autumn.

Tim and Kelly joined me in my hospital room, and I got to meet their parents. There were pictures and laughs and tears and tons of hugs. The whole thing was phenomenal. Autumn then went home with Kelly and Tim on the first day of autumn.

That’s the thing about seasons, they always bring change.

Since Autumn’s birth, I’ve had visits with and pictures of her and her family—and almost daily calls with Linda. I was also connected with another birth mom who’s also locked up. We’re writing weekly and becoming friends.

Bethany made my journey with adoption the best choice for me and those I care for. Three different families have become one because of the love and respect that we share—and I’ve found my place as a birth mom in each one of them.

To me, that’s family. For me, that’s home.

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