If you are wondering if God can truly move in the life of someone with all the odds stacked against them, look no further than Tori Hope Petersen.
Tori grew up in the foster care system. By the time she was 18 years old, she had been through 12 different first homes.
"I grew up with a single mom who struggled with mental illness because of what she had gone through and how she grew up," Tori explained. "I was abused. My sister and I were neglected. I went to the foster care system for the first time when I was four years old. But one of the jobs of the foster care system is to reunite families. So they did that. And I went back with my mom. As time went on, my mom's mental illness got worse. And so I had to re-enter the foster care system again as an adolescent."
Tori's younger sister was also put in foster care, and within the first month of being their first home together, she and her sister were separated. This impacted Tori immensely.
"I think the first time, I didn't understand at all," said Tori. "To me, my mom was not dangerous. Our lives were not unusual. Everything is just normal to you. And so I didn't understand what was going on."
That changed as Tori got older. The second time she entered the foster care system, Tori says she knew exactly why it was happening.
"I was hopeful," Petersen explained. "The most difficult part when I was older was shape-shifting to each home, trying to be accepted and just trying to figure out how I can not move again."
Tori says her life drastically changed when she met her high school track coach.
"He came in my sophomore year of high school, but it was really around my senior year that we got close. He said this crazy thing. Tori, I think you can go on to the state track meet. And I think you can win. And I was like, this old man is crazy," Tori explained. "No one had ever really said anything to me like that. I tried it and became a four-time state champion and track and field."
"That put a lot of confidence in me, and from that day on, I knew things would be different."
That same coach welcomed Tori into his home and eventually became her father.
Today, Tori works with nonprofits, ministries, and beyond, advocating for foster care reform, adoption advocacy, and help for vulnerable populations.
She is also an author and a woman of God. She shares her powerful story in her new book, Fostered: One Woman's Powerful Story of Finding Faith and Family through Foster.
Tori and her husband, Jacob, have three children: a biological son and daughter, Leyonder and Ezzeri, and an adopted adult son, Sar.
Today on Connections, Tori shares how she is using her experience to help other kids in the foster system.