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3 Things I wish Sound of Freedom Movie had done differently

         Sound of Freedom hit the theaters by storm during the summer of 2023. While it had come out in theaters during a deeply sad time in my life, I still made a point of seeing it during its opening week with my husband.  I had been heavily anticipating the movie since I first heard of its conception and followed along as it sat on shelves and its ownership moved from company to company.  I was moved by this movie and am eagerly waiting for it to be able to watch it at home with my older kids. Yes, it was deeply moving for me but also was sadly familiar with my specific unique circumstances. 

        While I appreciated the message and the story of Sound of Freedom, here are 3 things that I wish the movie had addressed or done differently.  It was Hollywood after all. 

1.  While I understand movies can not last forever and have a time constraint, I wish that the United States and the child trafficking problem that resides here had a presence in the storyline. Clearly, the storyline, which is based on a true story, didn’t take place here but the main character is from the USA. I wish we had a deeper understanding of why trafficking was a cause close to Tim Ballard, played by Jim Caviezel, and why his convictions were so strong. Because the ring I witnessed is in the United States, NJ to be exact, I had hoped that the storyline had more roots in our country here. I needed it to raise awareness of the fact that the United States is not immune to hosting tragic crime rings selling children.

2. Human Trafficking comes in various forms. It is not always children sold. Had I produced the movie, I would have been sure that in some way the possible different types of trafficking would have been addressed. Yes, Human smuggling and trafficking rings, like the one I saw in Woodbine, are sadly alive and well in this world.  The movie story held many parallels to what I have personally witnessed. But, children are also trafficked through relatives and known family members.  Pimps take advantage of runaways and profit off of them. Wealthy trick humans in third-world countries looking for a better life, bring them to the United States on broken promises and work them to the bone. Exploitation happens in a variety of ways. Sound of Freedom is one story of many. Child trafficking is, unfortunately, accomplished in a variety of ways. I wish the character that played Tim Ballard’s boss held an important line discussing this as he was trying to talk Tim from making the leap into Cambodia and away from his career in the United States. I am sure this would not have changed Tim’s mind and the storyline but from my perspective, It was a missed opportunity to educate the audience and also validate others that have been trafficked in different ways.

3. I wish Sound of Freedom would have held more to the truth.  Child trafficking is deeply misunderstood.  It’s deeply confusing and tangled in evil.  When I hear reports, from Tim himself, about inaccuracies in the movie it makes me sad.  While this wasn’t a documentary it still should have accurately portrayed the story.  The story of Child Trafficking doesn’t need any elaboration or additional drama.  It is dramatic and dangerous enough on its own. Any report of falsehood is doing a disservice to the children that are truly facing these crimes. Hollywood will be Hollywood I guess but on a topic this serious in nature it is so sad to see important roles, such as Tim’s wife, be diminished and details being skipped. 

I want to be clear, this movie was a movie that I hated to love.  I am so thankful for the conversations it invoked and the awareness it has brought to the topic.  If you went to this movie but do not wish to have a conversation about the problem of trafficking in general you missed the point. 

If you haven’t seen this movie, I truly want to ask you why. The movie is rated PG-13. Have you watched a movie rated worse? While sex is implied, it is definitely not seen. We all wish we could not see these types of things, but we need to open our eyes. Especially as Christians, We should be aware of the evil happening in our world to children so we can advocate for them.  If we do not know what these children are living through how can we pray for them, speak for them, or answer the call if God asks us to save them?

The movie is not yet out but is available to be preordered. Digital Rental will, reportedly, be available on Dec 15, 2023. 

My Child Trafficking Story in a Nutshell

(Names have been extracted but can be given and have been given to law enforcement officials) 

In 2009, at the age of 27, I toured WES (Woodbine Elementary School) with my now 20 year old for kindergarten.  At that time, ********* (who was a previous teacher of mine at Middle Township HS) showed me a child trafficking ring that was operating out of the Janitor’s office.  As a foster mom and birth mom of two I took what I saw very seriously.  I eventually raised concern on Twitter (during the years of it’s start) and reported it to the FBI.  Later the FBI reached out to me with an investigator from the local prosecutor’s office in an attempt to shut down the ring. I had two meetings with the FBI/Prosecutor’s Office Investigator to discuss the ring in Woodbine.  One was held in California in 2014 and another in NYC in 2015.

I saw the ring operate in 2015 in a neighbors yard and then again in 2019 while I served on the WES board in 2019-2020.

I lack proof in pictures because I was fearful to take them however I know pictures were taken by a friend that was also in the neighbor’s yard with me and another member on the board of education in 2019-2020.

From the meetings I have had on the WES Board and with the FBI this is what I know. Children are coming in illegally from the Woodbine Airport, being funneled into the janitor’s office, and being sold at parent pick up.  This was the case in 2019-2020.

I have had my phone tapped in 2014 and then again multiple times later. My cell phone sat in front of me tapped during the one year term I sat on the board. 

During my term, 2 weeks before I left, **** ******* showed me the ring and asked me if I had “met the Janitor’s children”.  This is the same thing ************* had said to me and became an often heard phrase during board meetings. (To be clear the children I saw were not of American descent) My last Woodbine BOE meeting had stenographers in attendance(only board members and no audience was in attendance that day) making it apparent that there was an investigation happening. After this realization the school ******, ********, retired on the spot.

When my term was up, I then used my blog and social media to expose the ring prompting the State Police(who are involved) to make numerous visits to my house. I would make a Facebook or Blog post and they would show up at my house to harass me time and time again. 
Around this time, I also received a letter from the WBOE, just a few days after I went public, to try to scare me into being quiet. I refused. 

The police called me in for an interview, and a couple weeks later sent me to the Hampton House.  The Hampton House is a state facility for the mentally unstable in New Jersey. 

(Knowing that this was likely the lengths the State Police would go to keep this story contained I was warned by the FBI/Prosecutor’s Office that I may be sent to The Hampton House at our 2015 meeting.  At that time I agreed to go if needed in order to continue with the investigation and operation to save the kids I saw being sold at Woodbine Elementary School.)

In 2021, I was committed for 2 weeks.  The state police and the Hampton House tried to say I was on heavy duty drugs.  Drugs I have never touched in my life. My room at the Hampton House had no heat.  The food was horrible and sparse. There was one water source for over 23 people during a global pandemic, a water fountain. There, I was threatened again to remove my blog entries made here, asked to delete my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts. Again, I refused.
I was released 14 days later.

Numerous law enforcement (still till this day) labeled/label me as a schizophrenic in defense of their own actions and to deflect from the ring that I saw in operation. I have had no diagnosis of being schizophrenic. 

Just a few weeks after the Hampton House stay, the state and locally involved police influenced CPS and I lost custody of my children.  It took months to get my three children “back” as I jumped through the hoops required of me.  I had done nothing to deserve this.  I was exercising my right of freedom of speech.  Still, custody of my kids was stripped away from me. 

(Thankfully, my husband, who I was and still am married to, remained in custody so my children never left my home.)

Personally, this was heartbreaking as I had worked with CPS for many years hosting foster children in my home. (I have had 23 children leave my home but never my heart.  I still love them till this day.  Many stories from my foster days still reside on this blog). During this time, nothing but frustration and disappointment filled me as it all revealed how absolutely broken our foster system is. Having seen the system from both sides, a parent and as a foster parent, I am more motivated than ever for foster reform in the United States of America. 

Again, during this process of my kids being used as collateral and my custody taken, I was threatened to take down my posts on Fb, my blog, and social media which exposed the ring and how it operated. Again, I refused.

At my meeting in 2015 with the FBI/Prosecutor’s Investigator, I was told that I would likely be labeled crazy but proceeded with the course of action to save the kids despite how it would/has tarnished my reputation. 

However, I had no clue how much this would hurt my family and how CPS would get involved.  
I am and was standing up for what is right.  These are human lives at stake and Woodbine has a gigantic problem. Child trafficking has no place in Woodbine and ESPECIALLY in a learning institution in the United States of America. 

Proverbs 31:8 
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.

Unfortunately, their is a tie to what I saw happening in Woodbine with two open cases involving citizens from the Cape May County area dating back as far as 1991.  Although I strongly feel this is related, I have chosen to not talk about it here. One of the two families it involves, I have not made personal contact with to explain my findings, experiences, and knowledge with their individual situation. Because of this, and because both cases involve each other, I do not feel comfortable with explaining it here.  However, in both cases, calls have been made to the tiplines provided by the crime units. 

An Update: 

I have no update really!  I was told that two things about this investigation.

1. “It could take a Long, Long, Long time.” I don’t know how long “long” actually is.  

It’s been almost 14 years since my initial reporting.  It’s very emotional. Waiting is hard.  Though I have 3 kids, my heart yearns for the others and to KNOW they are safe.  I was told they would be safe in witness protection but it would be great for me to know they are loved and cared for.  I pray for Zulia(read the story about when I met her) and the others every single day. 
It’s not just me waiting, It’s all of the people that love me and support me and believe in my effort to stop this. 

But most importantly, It’s my kids that are waiting too.  Waiting for the truth to come out about their mom.  Waiting to see the truth for themselves.  Waiting for Justice to be brought. 

2. A ring never has been attempted to be closed like this.

In 2009, socia media was new.  While I had talked about the ring on Twitter back then the  corrupt police officers/School administration weren’t early adopters to the tech platform.  Though very important people were present for the conversation that night in 2009, the exposure was missed locally. Keeping quiet for all those years after was hard for me. Supposedly, when the “re”exposure was to happen in 2020/2021, the FBI/Prosecutor’s Office was supposed to be ready to catch the corrupt with the evidence that is needed to make arrests. I was told this would take time.  I was told that the kids couldn’t just evaporate and that eventually the case would come to close.  That day couldn’t come soon enough. 

This has caused my family so much pain and stress.  I feel for my kids that they have to share me with 50+kids that don’t even know her name. Still, I love children and am a life long advocate for them in various capacities, fighting child trafficking is just one way.  Yes, This occupies a lot of my mental strength and energy.  However, I feel this is my job, God’s purpose for me. 

If you missed my last post, in addition to continuing to stand strong to the truth, I have returned back to school to venture into the world of political science.  I imagine one day it will take me to Washington DC to fight trafficking on a legislative level. (Maybe in 3 years are so) 

All I can say for now is, to be continued. 

Who is Zulia? (condensed)

Who is Zulia?

Zulia was a child that I saw amongst many children that were part of a child trafficking ring. Zulia was the only child who had a name. 

On Oct 26 of 2019, during a week known as red week at WES, I was introduced to a child trafficking ring.  The first time I saw the ring in motion was in 2009.  It was in 2019 that I was introduced to the “Janitor’s Children” who were obviously not the janitors offspring but what appeared to be a “batch” of children ages 1-12.

They appeared to be South American descent. 

Divided by gender, boys were on the janitor’s office floor and the girls were stationed in the back seat of a car near “the office.” All of the children appeared to be drugged up and silent. These children were dressed in WES school attire but were seemingly on their own and not attending classes. High traffic to the janitors office occurred during school dismissal time. It was at this time that I saw “The Children in the Pictures.”

After a brief walk down the hall with the superintendent I was introduced to Zulia. She was not drugged up like the others but was, like the others, searching for her mother with her eyes. All of the children I saw that day seemed dehydrated and eerily quiet. 

It was as this point that I encouraged the adults in the room to make wise choices.  I intended to come back at some point, look for every child, and write about Zulia(sometimes pronounced Zu-Leah) after I finished proving the septic tanks were hazardous.  

I have no idea where Zulia is but I do believe that there was an investigation and surveillance going on at the time of our introduction. I pray that all of the children are present and accounted for in Witness Protection.  I had absolutely no involvement with the investigation that was happening around me while I held a seat on the Woodbine Board of Education.  Because of this, I believe, I am one of the only people that can speak freely about Zulia and the others.  A few select adults may want to talk about child trafficking at Woodbine Elementary School but can not because they may be working with the DA and are not legally allowed to.

The ring itself is embedded into the government utilizing a title one school, fake foster parents, and a few corrupt police officers(New Jersey State Police) to keep the ring moving. 

I only know what I have lived, and have seen, through the last 12 years watching the ring operate.  Just like all of my other blog entries I blog what I have lived.  I have never had to prove what I have lived through up to this point.  I wish, in hindsight, that I would have taken pictures but in the end I knew that had I stopped to take pictures I may have been in an unsafe situation.  Though I am committed to helping close the ring that is running in the Woodbine Elementary School I am more committed to making it home to care and love the children that belong to me and call me Mom.

I volunteered to expose the ring and use social media to tell Zulia’s story because the local newspaper is involved. I am not a reporter.  I am a writer and lifestyle blogger.  I blog about my life and have done so for the last 12 years. This story, like every other one up to this point, is from my view point.

I pray that this case will no longer be undercover so that other view points can be taken into account. Until than, know that I remain firm on the belief that modern slavery is still slavery.  Pediphilia is a horrible part of our society and that NO CHILD should have to learn in the Conditions forced upon them in their learning institution like Woodbine Elementary School. 

As I continue……

If I haven’t told you already, I have returned back to school.  I am terrified and excited once again as I start another semester. Soon I will be heading to Thomas Edison University to pursue a degree in Political Science and continue my fight against Child Trafficking in one way, shape, or another.  

I have no idea what the future holds but know God will, as He always has, direct my steps on this path.  I ask for prayers as I navigate my way into a Chemistry lab this semester to complete my requirements to earn this degree.  It’s been 20+ years since I have really looked at a periodic table.  All sorts of feelings are on my heart as I am eager to just finish. 

I will be in the biggest balance test of my life as I juggle a heavy course load, mothering, wife stuff, and work but I feel lead to do this.  I am committed to my husband and 3 beautiful children while also continuing the call to advocate for the 50+ children I saw while touring WES (with my now 20 year old) in 2009 to the time I served in a seat on the Woodbine Board of Education in 2019. 

What I saw happening at WES occur during those 10 years has forever changed me.  I was 27, a foster mom, and birth mom of 2 when I first reported the ring to the FBI and got the prosecutor’s office involved. Though I am far less na├»ve then I was in those days I stand firm that child trafficking has no place in Woodbine let alone a place of learning. I stand with Jesus inside me. Those that are treating children as property should be and will be punished to the full extent of the law and I will fight for this justice till the day I die. 

This has cost me so much, including some friendships to decline and/or to end and my Facebook profile to be deleted more than once.  However, I know the children that I saw being trafficked is well worth every loss, tweet/X I make, every blog post I publish, and every sentence I speak in their name.  

I love children(especially my own) and always have.  I have always held a place in my heart for the child with an absent mother and believe that God didn’t just create me for this purpose but has also equipped my entire family for such a stance.  I am not fearless but know that victory will be mine with God on my side.  As always, asking for prayers as I navigate this new routine. 
Much Love,