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Ashlie McFarland Fulmer

Born and raised in the Tampa Bay area, 29-year-old Ashlie McFarland Fulmer graduated from USF and worked as an elementary school teacher for six years before becoming a stay-at-home mother, her dream job.



American World Adoption Associates

In 2009, after trying to get pregnant for two years, she and her husband decided to explore the world of adoption. They found American World Adoption Associates and after researching the group’s international programs, the Fulmers fell in love with Ethiopia. Ethiopia has the largest population of orphans in the world. According to UNICEF, 13 percent or 4.6 million children have lost one or both parents. After nine months of paperwork and waiting, the couple received their referral for a precious 8-week-old baby boy, Easton Aschenaki. Then God surprised the couple. They were pregnant!

On July 21, 2010, the couple officially became Easton’s parents. In November, the couple welcomed their second son, Preston Abenet. They gave him an Ethiopia middle name that means leader and role model. Fulmer says, “We never dreamed that this would be our journey to parenthood but what we learned is that God’s plan is always better than our own.”

What do you think is the secret to your family’s success?

Well, I’m not quite sure we have reached success yet. It has been hard.  I think I realized just how hard after my Mom watched the boys for 2½ hours and said, “I don’t know how you do it!” I was honestly shocked at her words! In my mind, my mom can handle anything and make it look easy. If she thinks watching the boys for a couple of hours is hard, then it must truly be difficult. Things are getting easier. I always joke that I don’t know if the boys are getting easier or if we are getting better! I would say that teamwork has led to many happy and peaceful moments in our house. We have always said that we are better together so that seems to be the theme for our family.

What is your biggest fear?

Running out of coffee creamers. Silly but true, I always have an unopened creamer in the fridge, I can’t live without it.

What advice would you give to other women?

It’s all about perspective! After living in Ethiopia for two months, there are countless moments when I can go from a bad mood or complaining to giving thanks. For instance, unloading the dishwasher used to be my least liked chore. My perspective quickly changes when I think of the Ethiopian nannies at Easton’s orphanage washing all of the children’s bottles and dishes in a tin bucket filled with water. Another example is laundry. After watching Ethiopian women hand wash hundreds of clothing items and hang them out to dry, I find it silly to complain about folding clean, warm laundry in my air-conditioned house.

What is your proudest moment?

I was pretty proud when I was the first one in my family to achieve a master’s degree. But honestly, our adoption and the birth of our son easily trumps that. Easton and Preston are my pride and joy and I am delighted to be their mother.

What is your biggest achievement?

I would say living in Ethiopia for two months while pregnant. It was risky, scary and a bit lonely but I will be proud to tell Easton about the sacrifices we made to be with him one day.

What makes you happy?

Being a mother makes me extremely happy! I am thankful for the years we waited to become parents. They prepared me for the tough moments as a mom. Watching the boys accomplish new milestones, such as walking and saying new words, is a whole new happiness that I love to experience.

How do you relax and take time for yourself?

I am very involved with the adoption community. I love to read blogs from my fellow adoptive moms and keep in touch with them on Facebook. I started photography ministry, giving 50 percent of my proceeds to organizations and families who are caring for orphans in Africa. I find photography very relaxing and I enjoy editing and sharing pictures. I also enjoy finding new recipes and cooking for my family.

What kind of message would you like to give women in the area or in this community?

I would encourage women to pursue their passion. I find that I am the happiest when I am passionate about what I am doing, such as being a mother and photographer. I always new I wanted to adopt and be a mother. I am thankful that God gave me those desires and passions.

What else would you like to share with our readers? About being a mom, about your work?

Adoption rocks!! I want to be an encouragement to moms and families who are considering adoption or foster care. Often people comment how fortunate our son Easton is to have us as parents. I quickly respond that we are the blessed ones! The truth is that our son Easton is way more of blessing to us than we are to him! We hope to adopt again in the future. It is costly, painful at times, and emotionally challenging, but I will say it is 100 percent worth every ounce of effort we put forth.

What is your favorite thing to do with your kids in the Tampa Bay area?

We take full advantage of the parks right now! Manatee and Sarasota counties have the nicest, cleanest and well-kept parks. The boys love to explore the jungle gyms and we usually bring a few toys. I look forward to taking our boys to the Glazer Children’s Museum and Florida Aquarium.

Who is your biggest inspiration or role model?

My role model is definitely my mother. She is passionate about serving others and is a selfless mother and grandmother. I have learned so much from her and I know I would not have been able to accomplish any of my goals without her support. I have always told her that if I am half the mother she is my boys are going to do amazing things in life!

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