Avolina suffered greatly at the hands of her mom and stepdad. She was four years old when she witnessed the brutal beating and drowning of her little brother in a bathtub. There was not a spot on his body that wasn’t bruised, according to police.
Field Cross, a police officer with the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia, remembers the arrival of Avolina and her sister three years ago vividly.
“We got the call about their emergency removal, and the next thing we knew, Avolina and E’mani were on our doorstep.”
He and his wife, Amanda, a 5th grade teacher, had dreamed of becoming foster-to-adopt parents, but were unprepared to become a family of four overnight. “All we had was love.”
It turns out, that’s all the couple needed. Within hours after hearing news of the girls, neighbors, fellow police officers and strangers flooded their house with food, toys and clothing.
“God had His hand on our journey,” says Field, “but honestly we were barely treading water.”
Trauma shattered Avolina’s sense of safety. She was physically and sexually abused, starved and suffered survivor’s guilt after her brother’s death. Frightening images continued to plague her in the form of night terrors and nightmares. “She was afraid of everything,” says Field. “We were in crisis when a therapist suggested Hope Reins.”