As an empty nester, Candice Tauscher wasn’t looking to take up a new hobby like golfing or gardening, she was ready to fill her nest again through foster care. “We probably move more slowly than the other parents,” Candice said. But Candice and her husband, Brian, are just as involved as those first-timers, attending football practices and games, voice lessons, and Tae Kwon Do classes.
Candice had always wanted to adopt, and when her two biological children went off to college, she broached the subject with Brian. Eventually, he agreed they were ready and they brought home their 11-year-old son David, whom they ultimately adopted. It seemed their family of five was complete. But about 15 years later, Candice knew her family wasn’t done growing. Her husband wasn’t so sure, and he wondered if they were too old to be adding more kids to the family. But Candice knew in her heart the couple had more to give. “I said, ‘I have a plan this time — I’m going to retire,’” She said.
Given the amount of time that had passed after their first adoption, they needed to go through the licensing process anew, and quickly began looking for a child who would be the right fit for their family. Like before, Candice and Brian were looking to add a permanent child to their family. “Fostering was too scary for us, that was never my intention,” Candice said.
But then a call came about a sibling pair who needed emergency placement. Not knowing for sure whether the situation would lead to adoption, they put their fears behind them and moved forward.
From the moment they met Dreese and Zoraida, Candice knew they were Tauschers. But the process of bringing them into the family forever was not without its bumps. As she expected, Candice’s retirement gave her the freedom and flexibility she needed to parent two preadolescents who experienced trauma. Zoraida was in 29 foster placements and Dreese had been in 34, often placed apart from each other. That extra time in Candice’s scheduled allowed her to give them the extra help they needed.
“You just go one day at a time,” she said. “You have to just give them what they didn’t have.” She said joking and laughing helps them get through a lot. And when she absolutely can’t take it, she gives them the biggest hug.
“We did have to go through [a termination of rights trial]” which took longer than anticipated. But this past spring, parental rights were finally terminated, and the children became free for adoption.
On September 12, 2018 the Tauscher family became complete when Zoraida, 12, and Dreese, 11, were legally adopted.
Candice knows her two youngest children aren’t always going to be able to articulate what they need and sometimes it’s about reading between the lines, she said. For example, she noticed Zoraida gravitating toward the rocking chairs whenever they went to their favorite ice cream shop. So, Candice found a used rocking chair for their house. “It calms her so much,” she said. “She rocks for hours.” Dreese, on the other hand, finds calm through exercise. If he gets too worked up, Candice says she suggests he go take a run or go on the elliptical — and it works.
She admits some days are better than others but in those tough moments she looks back on how far they’ve come and she knows she can keep pushing forward.
“How do you give up on sweet kids?” she said. “You just keep going.”
Some of their friends were shocked that Candice and Brian would choose to take on parenting in retirement age, but Candice said their age and the wisdom they’ve generated from parenting their older children has helped them. With her first three children, she said, there were so many worries and self doubts. But she looks at her two oldest now – her daughter working as a civil and environmental engineer and her son with his MBA, each with two children of their own – and she knows they did something right.
Parenting is “a little calmer,” this time around. “You say, I did my best before and I’ll do my best again.”
Although they’re not ready for college yet, Candice sees her two preteens being just as successful as her older kids. Zoraida, she said, wants to be a veterinarian, while Dreese goes between wanting to be an attorney or a counselor helping kids.
Candice has a message for all those considering adopting older children. “People think all the time that the older kids have too far to come and they maybe don’t have the energy for it,” Candice said. “But they’re so worth it.”
A special thanks to Kyra Jean Photo for taking portraits for the family.