If fatherhood were only about biological links, today would just be another number on the calendar for Tyler Evans. Instead, he’s having a Father’s Day celebration that will last into the coming academic year.
He thanks his adoptive father, State Police Trooper Jason Evans, for that.
When Custom Security Systems offered a college scholarship for children of law enforcement officers, Tyler Evans wrote an essay about how Jason Evans stepped in after Tyler’s chaotic early childhood. His story earned him a $5,000 scholarship he’ll put to use at Southeastern Louisiana University this fall.
“He’s been an all-around great father,” Tyler said. “I wouldn’t trade him for the world.”
Not that Jason Evans is looking for a different deal.
“It’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life,” he said.
Born Tyler Morales, the 18-year-old said he has not seen his biological father since he was 4. He said his father was involved in drugs and theft, and his mother, Leann, divorced him. She began dating Jason Evans, and they married when Tyler was 9 and his brother Landon was 8. Jason Evans has a son, Jake, from a previous marriage.
“He’s been there for me. He’s treated me like his own son, like he’s had me from birth,” Tyler said. “Everything’s been fair between all three kids. Everything’s been equal. He’s been nothing but the fairest father you could ask for.”
When Tyler and Landon asked about taking their adoptive father’s last name, Jason Evans initially discouraged it. Growing up, he knew children whose parents remarried often felt pressure to change their names, and he didn’t want that for his family.
“I didn’t want them to have any regrets, and I didn’t want them to think I was trying to take that from them,” said Jason Evans, 43. “My last name really means everything to me, kind of defines my roots and where I come from. My father was real proud of our name and proud of everything he did in his life, and I wanted to make sure that’s what they wanted and that they understood what that meant.”
About a year later, when authorities located the biological father and began garnishing his wages for back child support, he demanded visitation rights, Tyler wrote in his essay. A deal was struck: The biological father would waive his rights, and the family would waive any payments, Tyler wrote.
Shortly afterward, Jason Evans adopted Tyler and Landon, and the boys took his last name. That created a poignant moment when all three boys played on the same youth football team together, all with the same last name on their jerseys.
“It meant the world to my dad,” Tyler said. “He was on the verge of tears; he was so excited. It just meant everything to him to have all three of his sons with him with the same last name on the back of his jersey.”
“It really sort of melted my heart,” Jason Evans recalled.
This dad has been involved in his sons’ lives through athletics and hobbies like hunting and fishing and movies. Tyler said he’s learned a lot by his father’s dedication to his role as a state trooper. That included using his personal vehicle and boat to rescue people from the August 2016 flood.
“With such a demanding job, he has always made a conscious effort to always put his family first,” Tyler wrote. “This has not always been an easy task. He has had to work shift work, holidays and every natural disaster since I can remember.
“Throughout the years, he has always tried to set a good example and do what was right, even if it wasn’t always the easy way out. I believe this was partially due to the way he was raised but also because he felt that he had to hold himself to a higher standard due to his career. He does not take wearing the badge lightly.”
This fall will be a transition, with Tyler and Jake both going to college.
“To see him succeed and to see him do as well as he’s done in school and to move forward is the greatest achievement I could ever imagine — to see him growing up and doing the right things and being rewarded for it,” Jason Evans said. “He worked hard to get to where he’s at, and I just look forward to seeing him grow and continue down that path, because what you want at the end is for him to get out, do the right things, be a good person, treat people right and make an honest living … and love the Lord. Without God, none of this could be possible.
“I look forward to seeing him raise his kids,” said the proud father.