Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

The Joys and Challenges of Becoming an Adoptive Parent in Midlife

woman and adoptive son

I have known Cynthia for 10 years. She has accomplished much in her life. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, she worked for Governor Gray Davis, was Chief of Staff to a California Assembly Member, and is now Senior Regional Manager, Government Relations for International Paper with responsibilities for the Western U.S. and Mexico. But I think she would tell you her greatest achievement so far is becoming an adoptive parent. In this interview, we learn about Cynthia’s journey to becoming an adoptive parent and the unique challenges she faces as the mother of a child with heart disease and Autism.

HF&S: What led you to first become an adoptive parent?

Cynthia: I have always been an only child, but I am very close to all my first cousins and always wanted to form a family. Waiting to do it the traditional way, where you get married and have children, wasn’t possible.  So, after a lot of soul searching, I decided that I was in a place financially and in my career where I could embark on this journey as a single mom.

HF&S: What were your greatest obstacles in going through the process to become an adoptive parent?

Cynthia:  There have been many obstacles, but I think the one thing that no one wants to talk about is the amount of subjectivity and underlying discrimination in the process. After a year of training, home inspections and half-dozen interviews, you enter  the matching process. Social workers throughout the state look at hundreds of family profiles and then choose families they feel fit with kiddos. Unfortunately they saw my profile as a single woman, no experience raising children, career-driven and maybe not emotionally ready. It was heartbreaking to be rejected one after another for a year.

HF&S:  For those interested in becoming a Foster Parent/ Resource Family and/or an adoptive parent, what advice would you give them about the process?

Cynthia:  I think we are all told that the process is long, but sometimes we don’t truly appreciate the complexity of the process. I recommend that folks rely heavily on other resource families and their experience, be patient and be your own advocate.

HF&S:  Tell us a little bit about your son.

Cynthia:  My son is an energetic little boy. He has been diagnosed with Autism, partially non-verbal, and has a congenital heart defect.

HF&S: What are your greatest challenges and joys of being an adoptive parent?

Cynthia:  The greatest challenge is learning to be a heart mom on top of a parent. My learning curve was steep, but I took it on. My greatest joy is hearing my son’s laughter; his joy for life is infectious and inspiring. He seems to have absolutely no understanding of what he has overcome in his short lifetime. Of course, the first time my son called me Mommy when I walked in the door was one of the happiest days of my life.

HF&S:  Your son has Autism and childhood heart disease.  How has that shaped you as a person and as a parent?

Cynthia:  It has shocked me to the core. I knew there were resources for Autism but had no idea where to begin regarding raising a child with a congenital heart defect. I cried for a day after learning the severity of his situation. But when I was done, I got serious about educating myself and building my support system. I became an advocate overnight and knew soon after that this was my destiny. I am proud of being a heart mom and hope to help others going through this journey.

HF&S:  You are also a working mom with a pretty challenging job.  How has parenting changed your approach to work?

Cynthia:  I knew once my son came into my life my travel would decrease and that I could do my job well from anywhere. Long stretches away make me miss my kid, and I always find a way to get home sooner. My job flexibility helps me be there with my son as much as possible.

HF&S: All moms, especially working moms, suffer from guilt. How do you work through that?  Do you have any advice for other working moms?

Cynthia:  I think guilt is natural, but I quickly remind myself that the luxuries and benefits we enjoy are due to my job. We make sacrifices together, and in return we all benefit from a beautiful home, vacations and much more. Feeling guilty isn’t productive and will only distract us from enjoying life.

HF&S:  When your son is grown, what do you hope he will say about you, and what do you hope you can say about him?

Cynthia:  I hope he is as proud of me as I am of him and that he learns everything I do for him is out of love. I might come off as a fierce mama bear at times, but I hope he appreciates it. I hope he becomes a respectful, generous young man who pays it forward the same way I was taught to pay it forward.

HF&S: What do you want potential foster/adoptive parents to know?

Cynthia:   I want them to know they are not alone. Someone in this community has probably faced a similar challenge, heartache or dilemma. Rely heavily on your support group. It is amazing to learn how many people are either Foster Parents or former Foster youth themselves.

Information on becoming a Foster Parent

If you would like to learn more about becoming a Foster Parent, visit the National Foster Parent Association at

You May Also Like

woman who looks younger without surgery or injectables

9 Ways to Look Younger Without Surgery or Injectables

Photo by Shutterstock Although Botox, fillers and surgery are effective ways to look younger, surgery and injectables aren’t for everyone. There are a variety of other less expensive and natural ways to look younger without surgery or injectables breaking the skin or the bank. First, let’s talk about what causes our skin to age prematurely.

Read More »
woman on exam table with doctor

Cancer in My Thirties Changed My Life

Photo by Shutterstock Cancer in my thirties was not my master plan. When I was young, I assumed I would live forever, or at least until I was old and ready to say goodbye. I would relax into retirement bliss with my husband at my side, enjoying the bounty of the nest egg that we

Read More »
Woman performing basic crunch exercise

Five Best Ab Exercises for Women over 50

These five best ab exercises for women over 50 will help you deal with one of the most unwelcome side effects of perimenopause and menopause – belly fat. According to, when estrogen levels drop, our body fat leaves our hips, thighs and butt and heads for our bellies. Seemingly overnight, the muffin top appears, and we go from wearing

Read More »
beach with flamingo beach toy

Summer Faves | 10 Things I Love this Summer!

Photo by Kong Jun on Unsplash I have so many summer faves, it’s hard to pick which ones to share. Summer has always been my favorite time of year! When I was a little girl, I loved the smell of Coppertone suntan oil, long days, and the delicious juiciness of fresh tomatoes from the garden.

Read More »
Woman with short hair dressed in yellow sundress with heart sunglasses and yellow fringe earrings holding yellow flower.

July Amazon Fashion Haul | Jewelry and Accessories

This July Amazon fashion haul for jewelry and fashion accessories has some of the cutest styles and trends this season!  From floppy hats to statement jewelry and bucket bags, these looks will turn heads as you head to the beach or a nice outdoor lunch or dinner with your sweetheart! And all these items are

Read More »
woman sitting on cliff

Should You Stay or Go? Ask These Six Questions

Deciding whether you should stay or go from a marriage can be excruciatingly difficult. Our fear of the unknown, coupled with guilt and feelings of failure often trumps rational decision making.  Before I decided to leave my second marriage, I read countless books and blog posts, hoping for a clear sign that divorce was either

Read More »

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
Michele Linton Leather Jacket

Subscribe today and receive all the latest posts from Hot Flash and Sass delivered straight to your inbox!