ASTORIA — Kristi Kollar has put her pro-life views into practice.
The 19-year-old who now lives in Astoria said she was raped two years ago, and despite being shunned by her church at the time, she kept her baby. Her daughter, Adeline, is now about 14 months old.
Still, it’s not exactly the life Kollar had planned for herself.
Kollar wanted to be an actress and ministry speaker. The teenager, who went to high school in Bozeman, Mont., describes the feeling of being on stage as the place where she feels “most like herself.”
“As a little kid, I had this shirt that said ‘Queens, New York’ … It was a longtime dream of mine to live and perform here,” Kollar said. “That feeling of knowing what and where I want to be was really special.”
But Kollar’s life changed forever after an encounter with a trusted friend from her local Montana church when she was 17.
“We were close,” Kollar said. “We weren’t dating, but we were close friends [from a youth group], and he would give me rides places sometimes … So one day he was giving me a ride home, and then eventually, he didn’t let me out of the back of his car.”
A few weeks after the incident in late 2017, Kollar discovered she was pregnant. Around the same time, her grandmother passed away, her grandfather was sick, and a fire destroyed her and her father’s new home.
“It was literally everything at once,” Kollar recalled. “I was a [high school] senior, supposed to be getting ready for college. The assault happened, we were basically homeless, and it was the worst possible time to tell my father I was pregnant.”
Despite the hardships she faced, including rejection from her home church because she wouldn’t marry the father and no support or acknowledgement from him, Kollar still wanted to finish high school and keep her baby, saying abortion was “never a possibility.”
As a pro-life activist and believer, Kollar stuck to her truth, choosing to have the child while finishing high school and applying for her acting schools in New York City.
“Even if [abortion] was the easier option, no matter how terrifying my situation was, and just because her dad was a rapist — none of this was [the baby’s] fault,” she said. “There’s this life inside of me, and it’s not my right to take it away.”
Adeline was born on July 27, 2018.
A few months later, Kollar and her father Robert, a filmmaker, moved to New York so that Kollar could pursue her acting dreams by studying at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Manhattan. At the same time, she would be raising Adeline.
“I believe God used [Kristi] to rescue me, and used me to rescue her,” said Robert, 62, referring to his own experience of fatherhood. He saved Kristi from life in an abusive household with her birth mother, and the story is portrayed in his original film, “Take Two.”
Since moving to New York, Kollar has shared her story with several groups, including the Rockaway Republican Club in Belle Harbor. She wants to use her platform to spread the pro-life message and hopes to eventually start a ministry for young women and single mothers.
“I’m very passionate about being pro-life, but even moreso now, after everything,” she said. “It’s crazy to me the number abortions that are happening, and that new bill in New York that just passed in January … It’s absolutely crazy to me,” she said.
“I’ve gone way more into researching and trying to bring [pro-life] awareness. Even the idea that one baby can be saved by me saying something is so worth it to me.”
Kollar said that she “can’t imagine life without Addy,” and that her life has “so much more purpose now.”
She hopes that by sharing her story publicly, she will change hearts and save the unborn. “[Adeline] has made my whole situation so much better, because the healing came through her. If I had had an abortion and gone on with it, I would never feel okay to talk about it. But having her helped me to get past the trauma, to grow and be able to talk about it,” Kollar said.
Kollar has also reconnected with her Christian faith, finding hope and healing at a local Queens church and with other pro-life organizations like The Bridge to Life.
Catherine Donohoe, president of The Bridge to Life’s board of directors, met Kollar in August. She said the group has been helping with supplies like diapers and baby shoes, as well as with financial aid for school and living expenses.
Donohoe said the group assists young moms with parenting and education, “so they can be contributors to society with a paycheck.”
“We have to treat and talk to young women with mercy,” she said.