When Master Sgt. Ashley Fears leaves the 38th Cyberspace Readiness Squadron at the end of the day, she goes home to a family she describes as “a patchwork quilt of love.” Made through years of service as a foster parent, two adoptions, a lot of support, and a bit of faith, Fears’ double duty has helped raise two biological children and given two other children a chance at having a loving family.
“I didn’t know that I would like having a full house when I first started having kids,” she said. “But I can’t picture it any other way. It’s crazy and messy, but at the end of the day, it’s love.”
She and her husband, Tech. Sgt. Timothy Fears, raise a household that includes 13-year-old LaShauna, their biological son and daughter 12-year-old Aiden and 10-year-old Bella, and recently adopted 7-year-old José.
The balance between home and work life is complex, but Fears said she’s never felt alone in the process. She credits her success to the support she’s received from her husband, commander, coworkers, Family Advocacy, Airman & Family Readiness Center, and Exceptional Family Member Program.
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I didn’t know that I would like having a full house when I first started having kids. But I can’t picture it any other way. It’s crazy and messy, but at the end of the day, it’s love.
Master Sgt. Ashley Fears leaves the 38th Cyberspace Readiness Squadron
Recently, they finalized their adoption of LaShauna, one of the children they cared for in foster care.
“If you are persistent, get them the services they need, and show them what safe love is like, they change and blossom,” said Fears.
One-third of children in the foster care system waiting to be adopted are over nine years old but account for less than one-fourth of the adoptions in 2015, according to the Children’s Bureau. For Fears, she was happy to help LaShauna beat the odds that older children in the foster care system face.
“I think the most rewarding thing about adopting is getting to be that change that might not have been there for them,” Fears said. “The longer they stay in the system the greater their chances are for staying in the system.”
Looking to make a difference for other children, the Fears extended their family once more, where they completed a vigorous process to adopt José, a special needs child from Colombia.
“This is a little bit different for us because we are committing to a child we don’t know at all,” she said. “It’s a big leap of faith that you have to take... but we’re going to love this child no matter what.”
After 14 hours of flying and layovers, Fears said the homecoming of her son is something she will never forget.
She remembers how LaShauna ran to her, hugged all of the air out of her lungs, and darted to her new brother to do the same. Aiden stood in disbelief that his brother finally arrived while Bella grinned as she called out to José, welcoming him home.
The balance between home and work life is complex, but Fears said she’s never felt alone in the process. She credits her success to the support she’s received from her husband, commander, coworkers, Family Advocacy, Airman & Family and Readiness Center, and Exceptional Family Member Program.
“As soon as my husband got out of the car and onto the sidewalk, José immediately recognized him and ran and jumped straight into his arms saying ‘daddy!’” she recalled.
Piecing together a family with different cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, traditions, religions, communication styles, languages, and traumas comes with its challenges, said Fears, but she is proud of the way they have become a family.
“Each member has individually made the conscious decision to become a family; bound by affection and respect,” said Fears.
“I'm very proud of how compassionate, honest, and accepting all of our children are. We've all been tested over and over again, and walked through fire together to build this special and beautiful family. We've made it out on the other side healthy, happy, and loving.”