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Fostering Friendships in Medina County Civil Air Patrol

By Zurich Begin, Cadet Second Lieutenant
28 May 2021


It isn't very common to see foster-adoptive families in Civil Air Patrol, and the Medina County Skyhawks Composite Squadron are extremely grateful to have two special families as a part of the squadron.

The Turner and Hrouda families have made amazing contributions to our squadron and the people that are in it. In interviews with three of our members: Second Lieutenant John Turner, Cadet Senior Master Sergeant Mary Hrouda, and Cadet Senior Airman Aliya Hrouda, we were able to take a closer look at the experience of being a part of a foster-adoptive family.

During a conversation with Mary Hrouda, she expressed her appreciation to her adoptive parents for giving her a new life: "Being adopted is honestly the best thing in the world," she said as she explained the story behind her adoption into the Hrouda family. On Christmas Eve, her foster family got a call requesting that Cadet Hrouda be put in their care. "I was kind of a Christmas present," she affectionately added. 

Mary, or “Jojo” as she is known to her family and friends, was officially adopted at three years old and has now been in the Hrouda Family for seventeen years. She remarked about the quirks and differences of her many siblings, saying that "We're all different, we all have our own little 'baggage,' as we call it. We all love each other very much.” Jojo reflected on her gratitude towards her adoptive family, stating, "[Being adopted] gave me a new family, a caring family. It gave me hope that one day I could be as cool as my adoptive parents and gave me an opportunity to have life; because if I wasn't adopted, I don't know where I would be at today."

Jojo is currently a junior at Brunswick High School and serves as the Cadet First Sergeant for the Medina County Skyhawks. She has previously instructed new cadets during initial training and served on the unit’s competition teams in cyber defense and satellite design projects.

From the parental perspective, Second Lieutenant John Turner shared his experiences as a foster-adoptive parent to his son, a former cadet and current Civil Air Patrol Senior Member, Sean Turner.

After privately adopting their oldest son, Austin, the Turners decided to foster another child. Turner explained how he and his wife went through the forty-hour training course to become certified as a foster family, and not long after, got a call from the foster agency. Turner stated that, "they said 'hey, we have a two-day old baby that needs to find a home.' We said okay." He described that all that Sean had at the time were the clothes on his back. The Turners would initially raise Sean, and they officially adopted him two years later. He explained that they raised their children with the knowledge that they were adopted and encouraged them to embrace the uniqueness of their family. Sean’s younger sister, Kristen, is also an adoptee.

John Turner joined Civil Air Patrol to assist with the Cadet Program while Sean was still a cadet, starting off as not much more than a simple chaperon. He has since stayed on to serve as the unit’s Activities Officer and has completed a variety of training classes to improve his abilities as a cadet training officer.

Aliya Hrouda, Jojo’s younger sister, also shared her story following her adoption on April 8, 2021. With a total duration of six and a half years in the foster care system, she described how she went through five foster homes before coming to stay with the Hrouda family, where she has stayed for the past five years. Aliya shared what makes her newly adoptive family special, saying, "They don't just consider you as a foster child, they consider you as family." She mentioned how all of her siblings are adopted and echoed the appreciation of her sister towards their family, saying, "We all love each other at home, even if we don't show it sometimes."

Aliya went on to talk about how her family came to be a part of Civil Air Patrol and how it has affected their lives, explaining that she learned about CAP through her sister and remarked upon how the program has helped her grow as a person and as a role-model for her younger siblings. "CAP teaches you really good leadership skills,” she stated. “It has taught me to be a lot more patient with my siblings." She also mentioned that CAP’s Core Value of Integrity has helped her to build a habit of honesty.

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