What Tori Hope Petersen Wants You To Know About Being ‘Fostered’

What Tori Hope Petersen Wants You To Know About Being ‘Fostered’

The foster care system gets mentioned in discussions by people who have little to no knowledge of its reality. Tori Hope Petersen gives a firsthand account of the system and how it shaped her in her debut memoir, “Fostered.”

Petersen is a wife, a mother to three, and has also been a foster parent. She is also a former foster youth and foster care advocate. Over her years in the system and working with the system, her faith and passion have given her the strength necessary to serve these less-than-fortunate children.

Petersen took the time to talk with The Federalist during a short break from helping her younger sister move in. The sisters spent their early days together in foster care before being separated. This year, they were reunited and Petersen welcomed her sister into her home where they now live together. During a follow-up conversation, Petersen’s son hung out on the side while enjoying a bowl of spaghetti as the two sat in the summer sun. It was apparent her family is her everything.

Petersen talks about her upcoming book, “Fostered,” and how her journey through the foster care system and faith journey have shaped her.

Fostered” will be available for purchase on Aug. 30, 2022 on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble, Walmart, or Target.

Why did you initially decide to write “Fostered”?

I wanted to write the book because I wanted youth in foster care to understand that they weren’t victims, that they were victors, that they could overcome the hardest things that were set up against them through Christ. As I wrote the book, and as I began to write on social media, I realized that I was educating foster parents, child welfare workers, lawyers, people who worked in the child welfare space, and just people who have an interest in foster care. I didn’t intend for the audience to be what it is now. I just really wanted to write a book that was kind of like the book that I needed when I was in care. Now knowing my audience is broader than I anticipated, I now hope that the book encourages people to step into the hard parts of foster care and to love those around them in an unbridled, fearless kind of way. As people read, they will see that’s what was done for me by others.

What is your experience interacting with your audience who’s learning about your story and about the foster care system for the first time through your story?

It’s mostly just from my social media platform. When it comes to social media in general, the people who read and probably take the most from my posts are just the general population and people who have been interested in foster care, but I think have been scared. I get a lot of messages and I mean, it’s just like, so amazing, so many messages of people saying, “We’ve been interested in foster care for a long time. We’ve been scared or we haven’t done it because X, Y, and Z. Because of your post or your story, we’re getting involved.”

One of the themes that you taught and touched on in your book is just the importance of strong mother and father figures and a strong family. Could you talk a little bit more about that?

I don’t even know what to say about it. It seems so obvious that when we have those supports, the kind of unconditional love that parents give at home, that’s what a strong family is. Then, we don’t go searching for it in other places. When we don’t have to go searching for it in other places, it feels like there’s more stability around our self-worth and who we were created to be. And research shows there’s so much that supports this. I just think that a strong faith and family is really the foundation of a person, but that doesn’t mean a person can’t be strong if they don’t have a strong family either. That’s why it’s important that we have strong communities.

In your book, you recount when you met your father’s side of the family and you felt that sense of community even though you hadn’t really known them up until then. That, along with other things that you touched on in the book, was a very emotional and personal moment. What was it like revisiting those memories?

There were moments that it was hard, but honestly, it was so healing. When people say writing memoirs is cathartic, I didn’t really know what that meant. I always used to have this recurring dream that I was locked in someplace—in the post office or my house or jail—and I couldn’t get out and my mom was yelling at me like how she yelled at me when I was a kid. I’ve had that dream since I went into foster care, probably at least once a month. After I finished writing my book, I had that dream where I was locked somewhere and my mom was yelling at me, and I walked out. I’ve never had the recurring dream since, and I feel like that encompasses what this book has done for me. It’s just been healing. I think that’s kind of what counseling does for us. It helps us process things, and I think that’s what the book helped me do in a deeper way than I already had. It helped me process things all over again.

Unfortunately, not everyone can make that same peace with the past, and some people don’t even have the resources to rehabilitate their minds after traumatic experiences. This is especially true for children in the foster care system. What’s one of the biggest changes you would like to see in the foster care system going forward?

Every foster kid has a file, and that file follows them everywhere they go. It usually says the worst things that have ever happened to them and the worst things they’ve ever done. We know that first impressions are so important, right? Like when we go into a job interview and we have a bad first impression, we think, “Oh how do I fix that?” When a kid has a file, they can’t fix that. It’s just the same things that get brought up to the person that they want to form a deep relationship with. They never get a new start. They never truly get a new beginning. I think how we see children is so valuable for how they’re going to see themselves. I think that we need to do something with the file so that children don’t have that following them around in a way that plagues their identity, because healing really begins and ends with identity.

Poor conditions in the foster care system are a big part of the pro-abortion argument. What is your response to that?

My response is that any real social justice advocacy or any real social justice movement, it aims to end the suffering, not the potential suffering.

What do you hope your readers walk away with after reading through “Fostered”?

My greatest hope behind the book is that youth who read it, parents who read it, and people who read it understand the value that each individual has, that there’s a purpose and plan for their life, and that no matter what they’ve been through, God loves them. And knowing that, they love others. People and God loving me is my motivation to love others the best I can. I want that love to just continue. I think it goes back to that piece of identity that no matter where you come from, no matter what’s been done to you, no matter how you were conceived, you have value, you can be loved, you can love. There’s a plan and purpose for your life. I just want people to know who God is and who God has created us to be.


Elise McCue is an intern at The Federalist and student majoring in multimedia journalism and professional and technical writing. She also reports on the Southwest Virginia music scene for The Roanoke Times. You can follow her on twitter @elisemccue or contact her at mccueelise@gmail.com

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CNN’s Dana Bash’s Solution To Child Poverty: Kill The Babies

CNN’s Dana Bash’s Solution To Child Poverty: Kill The Babies

Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson went on CNN Sunday to defend his decision last year to sign a near-total ban on abortion with exceptions limited to medical emergencies that jeopardize the life of the mother.

“I signed it because it is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade,” Hutchinson said last year, telling CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday that he now wants the law revisited to include exceptions for rape and incest after a similar law in Mississippi provoked the challenge instead.

“Those are two exceptions I have recognized, I believe are very appropriate,” the governor explained. “And what will happen as time goes on, if Roe v. Wade is reversed, these are going to become very real circumstances.”

Bash, however, took issue with the uncertain prospects of caring for more children altogether in a state ranked 48th in child poverty.

Bash warned that “Arkansas already struggles to support vulnerable children” who, judging by the question, she apparently thinks might be better off dead. “Nearly 1 in 4 children in Arkansas lives in poverty. More than 4,600 kids are already in your state’s overloaded foster care system. Do you really think that your state is prepared to protect and care for even more children if abortion does become illegal there?”

Hutchinson acknowledged his state’s “historic challenges with poverty” while touting the expansion of Medicaid and foster programs to enhance childcare.

“It’s been a high priority,” the governor said. “Obviously there’s always opportunity to do more. And we have to address this issue with compassion because of the difficult circumstances and the fact that you’re dealing with most vulnerable populations.”

The governor’s brief remarks failed to push back on the premise of the question, however, that children in poverty could have avoided their circumstances had impoverished mothers opted to forgo the gift of life to begin with.

Cautionary tales of extreme poverty have become a signature argument of the pro-abortion lobby under the same logic that justifies pregnancy termination for children expected to have genetic conditions such as Down syndrome. Bash ought to ask a child with Down syndrome whether he or she would have rather been aborted. The answer would certainly be no.

While their explicit reasons for doing so are grotesque, leftists aren’t entirely wrong in pointing out high levels of child poverty preceding a post-Roe baby boom. It’s true that a vast number of women who pursue the deadly procedure are themselves below the federal poverty line, and kids are more expensive than ever. Toss runaway inflation into the mix when child poverty is already on the rise, and it’s conceivable millions of children will be born into less than preferable circumstances. But to suggest a child born into poverty is worse than no child born at all not only dismisses the sanctity of life and insults every individual with a rags-to-riches story, but it also ignores efforts among pro-life activists to enhance the affordability of childcare or life-saving alternatives like adoption.

Pro-life policymakers can and should be preparing for a post-Roe America with substantive solutions on childcare, especially as the nation’s population grows at its slowest pace since the Declaration of Independence was written. America needs more babies, and Republicans such as Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley are already working on ways to make childcare more affordable so that abortion, which will remain legal in states such as California even after Roe is gone, is no longer viewed as an attractive financial incentive.


Tristan Justice is the western correspondent for The Federalist. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and The Daily Signal. His work has also been featured in Real Clear Politics and Fox News. Tristan graduated from George Washington University where he majored in political science and minored in journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @JusticeTristan or contact him at Tristan@thefederalist.com.

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CNN’s Dana Bash’s Solution To Child Poverty: Kill The Babies

CNN’s Dana Bash’s Solution To Child Poverty: Kill The Babies

Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson went on CNN Sunday to defend his decision last year to sign a near-total ban on abortion with exceptions limited to medical emergencies that jeopardize the life of the mother.

“I signed it because it is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade,” Hutchinson said last year, telling CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday that he now wants the law revisited to include exceptions for rape and incest after a similar law in Mississippi provoked the challenge instead.

“Those are two exceptions I have recognized, I believe are very appropriate,” the governor explained. “And what will happen as time goes on, if Roe v. Wade is reversed, these are going to become very real circumstances.”

Bash, however, took issue with the uncertain prospects of caring for more children altogether in a state ranked 48th in child poverty.

Bash warned that “Arkansas already struggles to support vulnerable children” who, judging by the question, she apparently thinks might be better off dead. “Nearly 1 in 4 children in Arkansas lives in poverty. More than 4,600 kids are already in your state’s overloaded foster care system. Do you really think that your state is prepared to protect and care for even more children if abortion does become illegal there?”

Hutchinson acknowledged his state’s “historic challenges with poverty” while touting the expansion of Medicaid and foster programs to enhance childcare.

“It’s been a high priority,” the governor said. “Obviously there’s always opportunity to do more. And we have to address this issue with compassion because of the difficult circumstances and the fact that you’re dealing with most vulnerable populations.”

The governor’s brief remarks failed to push back on the premise of the question, however, that children in poverty could have avoided their circumstances had impoverished mothers opted to forgo the gift of life to begin with.

Cautionary tales of extreme poverty have become a signature argument of the pro-abortion lobby under the same logic that justifies pregnancy termination for children expected to have genetic conditions such as Down syndrome. Bash ought to ask a child with Down syndrome whether he or she would have rather been aborted. The answer would certainly be no.

While their explicit reasons for doing so are grotesque, leftists aren’t entirely wrong in pointing out high levels of child poverty preceding a post-Roe baby boom. It’s true that a vast number of women who pursue the deadly procedure are themselves below the federal poverty line, and kids are more expensive than ever. Toss runaway inflation into the mix when child poverty is already on the rise, and it’s conceivable millions of children will be born into less than preferable circumstances. But to suggest a child born into poverty is worse than no child born at all not only dismisses the sanctity of life and insults every individual with a rags-to-riches story, but it also ignores efforts among pro-life activists to enhance the affordability of childcare or life-saving alternatives like adoption.

Pro-life policymakers can and should be preparing for a post-Roe America with substantive solutions on childcare, especially as the nation’s population grows at its slowest pace since the Declaration of Independence was written. America needs more babies, and Republicans such as Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley are already working on ways to make childcare more affordable so that abortion, which will remain legal in states such as California even after Roe is gone, is no longer viewed as an attractive financial incentive.


Tristan Justice is the western correspondent for The Federalist. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and The Daily Signal. His work has also been featured in Real Clear Politics and Fox News. Tristan graduated from George Washington University where he majored in political science and minored in journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @JusticeTristan or contact him at Tristan@thefederalist.com.

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Kids Are Flooding The Border Again, But Beto O’Rourke Is Nowhere To Be Found

Kids Are Flooding The Border Again, But Beto O’Rourke Is Nowhere To Be Found

Where is Robert Francis O’Rourke today? In June 2018, while running unsuccessfully for Ted Cruz’s Senate seat in Texas, he was outside the gates of the Tornillo facility for unaccompanied alien children (UACs), megaphone in hand.

UACs are children who cross the U.S. border illegally and without a parent. There was nothing for O’Rourke to protest about the children’s treatment. Rather, he was protesting the Trump administration for enforcing immigration laws as passed by Congress.

Today the Biden administration is activating an identical facility at Carizzo Springs, Texas, for the same purpose. But no Beto, no American Civil Liberties Union, no parade of members of Congress who pilgrimaged to Tornillo. It’s as if child welfare is not their primary concern.

The surge of juveniles crossing the border since Joe Biden’s inauguration has overwhelmed the shelter program run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) instituted to care for them while appropriate guardians are found in the United States. There are a reported 8,000 in custody—one media report puts the number at 13,000.

Many are being warehoused at Federal Emergency Management Agency “decompression” facilities or, even less ideally, in U.S. Customs and Border Protection stations pending assignment of a shelter bed. During the Trump administration, a peak of 15,000 children were in custody, and very rarely was any child not in the care of HHS within the requisite 72 hours.

The coincidence of this surge in illegal border crossings with Biden’s inauguration is hard to dismiss as incidental. A wave of children (and adults) has crashed against the United States’ southern border, apparently sensing a new lack of resolve among immigration policy-makers to enforce existing laws.

Mexico’s agreement to interdict this flow at their southern border with Guatemala has broken down—the children mostly come not from Mexico but Central America. It is also pretty clear that prior caravans of immigrants who tested our border security were recruited and subsidized. A recent Wall Street Journal photo of people waiting in Tijuana for entry showed them all wearing T-shirts reading “Biden, please let us in!” Perhaps the shirts were spontaneously silk-screened in Guatemala.

The existence of the UAC program is a testament to the compassion of the American people. Originally designed to care for a relative trickle of children entering the country alone, it has now swelled to consume a peak of $4.5 billion a year. The Biden administration is quietly making preparations for 20,000 in custody, which means the program will likely cost in excess of $5 billion this year, and the administration will have to go to Congress to request a supplemental appropriation.

And to what end? Through the lens of “America First,” what value do the American people derive from operating the largest child welfare program in the country?

If we had an orderly immigration process, juveniles without parents would likely not be a priority category for admission. The UAC program is largely defensive: we cannot abide having unaccompanied alien children roaming American streets, where many will become homeless and victimized. Nor can we allow persons with gang affiliation to enter the country unimpeded. The UAC program is made necessary because of Congress’ failure to enact rational immigration laws.

After the UAC program places a juvenile with an appropriate guardian here in the United States, some members of Congress, mostly Democratic but some Republican, want the federal government to maintain an ongoing relationship with that family unit. This would substantially increase the cost and scope of the program, and would be a step down the path of federalizing all child welfare, currently the responsibility of the states.

Other than interdicting the flow of children entering the country illegally, solutions to this crisis are hard to come by. Many on the left advocate simply not enforcing current immigration laws. So change the laws: damage is done to the legitimacy of any society that enacts laws it does not intend to enforce.

Or we can discharge children from our care faster if we are less scrupulous about whom they are placed with. This will lead to a repeat of the Obama administration scandal of placing children with human traffickers.

Under current law, children not from contiguous countries (Canada and Mexico) cannot be expeditiously returned to their country of origin. They are entitled to a status hearing, which needlessly takes many months to occur. Some number of children in the government’s care will not be released prior to their 18th birthday, when they will be handed back to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and then returned to their country of origin (or not).

These are children for whom an appropriate adult sponsor could not be identified or whose verified gang affiliations render them unsafe to release into the United States. Rather than hosting such children for years in shelter facilities, their return can and should be expedited by the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, the agency that adjudicates immigration cases. Even children who want to go home are not allowed to do so without a status hearing, which is unlikely to occur before they turn 18.

Maybe the worst aspect of this program is that it encourages parents to send their children into the United States, either in the hands of coyotes or alone across the Sonoran Desert and Rio Grande. Some lionize these parents, but I think they are guilty of the reckless endangerment of their children.

The one solution to this problem that should not be tolerated is to allow the program to grow ad infinitum. If it started as an expression of our compassion, it has become a gross and cynical abuse of that virtue.

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