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Dyess Chief blessed after tragic loss

Chief Master Sgt. Latreva Schoultz, 489th Bomb Group superintendent, holds her two youngest children in Abilene, Texas, March 20, 2020. After having three sons, Schoultz adopted her daughter in the fall 2019 after fostering her for 10 months. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Colin Hollowell)

Chief Master Sgt. Latreva Schoultz, 489th Bomb Group superintendent, holds her two youngest children in Abilene, Texas, March 20, 2020. After having three sons, Schoultz adopted her daughter in the fall 2019 after fostering her for 10 months. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Colin Hollowell)

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

She lies on an unfamiliar bed in silence.

“Something is wrong,” said Chief Master Sgt. Latreva Schoultz, 489th Bomb Group superintendent. “Where is the doctor?”

The silence brought catastrophic news as the doctor and nurses poured into the room.

Latreva could never prepare herself for the word that finally broke the silence.

“Stillborn.”

“That two-syllable word was the most painful thing I’ve ever heard,” Latreva said.

She would have been the Schoultz family’s third child, and their first girl.

“We found out she was a girl at 10 weeks,” said Latreva. “At the time I was so excited to be having a girl because I lived with three boys, my husband and two sons.”

As the pregnancy advanced, complications began to arise.

“She had issues with her heart and kidneys,” Latreva said. “Maybe I should have foreseen this as a possibility, but we were only hoping for the best.”

“It was my third time giving birth,” she said. “It was my first time leaving the hospital without a baby.”

They left the hospital with a box containing only their daughter’s handprints, footprints and her proof of birth.

Upon arriving home, her two sons were enthusiastically anticipating the arrival of their new baby sister.

“I knew my boys were expecting me to bring home a baby that I did not have,” Latreva said.

Her husband broke the news to their boys.

“I don’t think I have ever seen my husband break down the way he did that day,” Latreva said.

“I tried to be as strong as I could possibly be,” said Master Sergeant Tavares “T.J.” Schoultz, 7th Mission Support Group first sergeant. “Explaining to our two sons what just happened, it was hard. I still hadn’t even been begin to process the loss myself.”

They told their two boys that their sister was very sick and she didn’t make it.

“I remember my youngest son just crying and covering his face, I wasn’t able to console him because of my own hurt,” said Latreva. “And so in that moment we all just sat there together, as a family, crying.”

After the tragic loss she and her family suffered, Latreva said that she went back to work in hopes of keeping her healing mind preoccupied.

It was there that she said she was introduced to the resources that the Air Force provides, which led her to go speak with a grief counselor.

Latreva said this was beneficial in her healing, but she knew that there was still something she was missing.

“My husband and I, we tried again.” Latreva said.

Not long after, they found out that she was pregnant and they were hopeful after the loss of their daughter.

“After trying again we lost the baby at 10 weeks, we never even knew the gender.” Latreva said mournfully.

She continued, “It was another devastating blow where I felt like I was a failure for my family, to my husband and my kids.”

The loss left Latreva feeling lost and angry, unsure of how to bring herself back from these adverse emotions.

“It was hard because my wife really wanted a little girl,” said T.J., “She became more to herself, she started to close herself off and didn’t want to talk about it anymore.”

Latreva said that she knew her family was still incomplete, but the fear of another failed pregnancy left her reluctant.

After arriving at Dyess AFB, she started a recreational class offered at the fitness center. It was there that she noticed a keychain promoting a local adoption agency.

Latreva approached her husband and said “I want a little girl. What if we try to adopt?”

Latreva and T.J. began researching Texas state laws and requirements for adoption.

Throughout the process they attended associated training courses where they learned different approaches on how to accommodate neglected children and associated trauma.

“That opened up our eyes about fostering children,” said Latreva. “There are so many kids out there that just want to be loved and we needed a place for that love we had for our daughter to go.”

Latreva was working to become dual-licensed with a local agency, making her an eligible candidate for adoption and foster care.

“During that process, I actually got pregnant again” she said.

Latreva admitted that enjoying her pregnancy was challenging for her after her previous losses.

While pregnant, they decided to continue with the adoption process and realized slowly that this would be more taxing than anticipated.

The process included numerous home studies and house visits where a caseworker came into the Schoultz’s home for inspections.

The home study provides details about potential adopting families and their home environment, and is followed by a lengthy interview with the family members.

“The process took a while,” said Latreva. “I grew a whole baby throughout the timeframe of waiting to get licensed.”

In November 2018, Latreva and T.J. gave birth to their third son, Ivan, and finally, they felt like they could breathe.

“All I could do was just cry tears of joy,” said Latreva. “I remember T.J. squeezing my hand and kissing my forehead.”

“He is here, he is alive and he’s safe,” T.J. told his wife.

Latreva and T.J. introduced their newborn son to his two older brothers in the waiting room and together, as a family, they absorbed this euphoric moment.

Even after the birth of their son, Latreva was still intent on adopting.

She said that she wanted to continue trying to foster and adopt a child.

“There are so many children out there,” said Latreva. “I wanted to save at least one and give them opportunities that they may never have gotten.”

The holidays were coming up quickly after the arrival of Ivan, and along with the gift of their newest child, they received one more surprise.

Their caseworker called to inform them of a two-year-old girl they would be able to foster until she became available for adoption.

Latreva and T.J. met their foster child after the holidays, and though there were some growing pains in the initial stages of becoming foster parents, they were hopeful they could soon adopt her as their daughter.

“We were able to finalize the adoption for her which was incredible,” Latreva said joyfully. “I finally, finally got my little girl!”

T.J. shared his wife’s excitement.

“It was a real joyous year, it all finally came to fruition,” said T.J. “We have another little boy and we now have our new little girl.”

Through the tragedy of two lost pregnancies, Latreva and T.J. fought through the heartbreak and are the proud parents of three boys and their new daughter.

“We finalized the adoption of our two-year-old girl two years after losing our daughter,” said Latreva. “She fit right into our family, perfectly, like she was supposed to be there all along.”

Latreva said that their family continues to volunteer as advocates at a local agency for other military families that choose adoption as an option to grow their family.

Since, they have shared their journey with others, provided outreach resources, and supported families that need respite care as foster parents.

Note: This feature is part of Dyess Air Force Base’s recognition of Women’s History Month. These stories recognize the rich legacy of women in the Armed Services by highlighting the Air Force stories of single individuals.