Anca Toderic, Founder of the farm-to-table meal-planning app Huckle and Goose has a heart of gold. After volunteering for years as a young girl during her summer’s at a Romanian orphanage, this NYC-based mama of two decided to adopt a set of twins, then 13-years-old. Her dedication, perseverance and enormous love for her family has brought about a new chapter that she is navigating one day at a time. We are enamored with this mama’s can-do attitude for everything that comes her way and loved getting to know more about how she focuses on the simple things to make her life exceptionally full. Read on…
Anca, you have an incredible story! You have two sons and you have just adopted twin girls from Romania who are now 16 years old. Tell us more about this journey!
I knew I wanted to adopt even before I had my biological sons. My parents own a non-profit in Romania that I volunteered at during the summers when I was college and I remember when the girls were brought to the orphanage. They were so tiny they both fit in one basket! I always assumed they’d be adopted, but sometimes things don’t happen the way they should as Romania closed international adoptions and kept them closed. Year after year when I went back to volunteer, the girls were still there. Over time I realized a greater part of their childhood would be spent there.
Finally, a few years ago, Romania opened up its adoptions to Romanian nationals living abroad. The girls were 13, and while I told them every summer to keep hoping for a family, that summer they looked me in the eye and said “We know we’ll never be adopted. We’re too old”. That was the moment when I realized I can’t wait for that “family”. I had a zillion reasons why there was a better family for them; more financially set, more mature, more patient, more everything. But what if it’s not about that? What if it was just deciding and stepping up to say, “I’ll do it.”
I called my husband from Romania and told him about the conversation I had with the girls. He was quiet and then simply responded with “What’s two more mouths to feed? We’ll make it work.” Once I got home, we had a more serious conversation and did some research on the process and spoke with our boys and we decided as a family to go ahead with the adoption. It took over two years to bring them home, a ridiculous amount of paperwork, tears, waiting, and more waiting But eventually we brought them home right before Christmas.
It’s incredible that your parents own this non-profit in Romania! You have volunteered here over the years and you now bring your sons to volunteer over their summer break. What lessons do you hope to impart on them by exposing them to this experience?
That life is hard sometimes, and it can be brutally unfair. Just to have that awareness, to not live in a NYC bubble, develops character and compassion. People live and think differently than you and that is not necessarily bad. We think that how we do things is better just because that’s what we’re used to. It takes humility to say, maybe it can be done differently than what I know. Every human being needs love. This is also what binds us together when so many other things tear us apart. In the end, no matter where we are in the world, no matter who we are, we need to be loved, and we need to love.
What has surprised you the most about suddenly being the mother to twin teenage girls?
Probably how I repeat everything my own mom said to me – in a good way. Also, I now need to buy pads/tampons in bulk—like Costco bulk. It’s been an adjustment to walk into a room and ask that bras be picked off the floor instead of what I’ve been used to for the past 10 years which is asking my boys to pick up their legos.
You’re giving your boys such a gift. The adoption process was lengthy, costly and not without many hurdles along the way. What gave you the strength to persevere during this time?
My family and close friends were incredible supportive, and my faith also played a huge part in not giving up. There are some things in life so crucial and important that you know you’re in it for the long haul and there is no giving up. I have an incredible church community who were there from the beginning of the journey and through the two years it took to adopt the girls. It was an amazing feeling to see my parents and church family waiting at the airport to welcome us (the girls and me).
During the process, we had to make multiple trips to Romania and had close friends stay with our boys and take them to school while we were away. My mother came and stayed 3 weeks in December to help my husband while I was finalizing paperwork in Romania and my sister and brother-in-law helped on the ground there as well.
It truly takes a village! What advice would you give to other women wanting to expand their families through adoption?
If you’re considering it, I’d say just jump. Do it. Make the decision and then take it one day at a time. There is an overwhelming amount of paperwork, medicals, expenses, trips, and prolonged periods of waiting, but do what you can each day. Don’t read every blog or book out there as you’ll end up going down a rabbit hole of opinions and suggestions. Yes, be informed and prepare, but also realize that your experience will be unique. Have people in your corner for when you need to vent or cry. Tell them they don’t need to necessarily fix anything, they just need to listen. Sometimes that’s all we need. A good friend who listens well and a great bottle of wine.
What has been the biggest misconception about adoption that you’d like to help change?
Truth be told I have no idea. Some people have asked if I’m not concerned about any genetic illnesses or disorders or what if they don’t listen to me because I’m not their biological mom. My take is that we all have baggage, whether that’s nature or nurture, no one is perfect. I didn’t birth perfection. No one does.
You also own and run Huckle & Goose, a seasonal meal planning site that’s centered around inspiring people to cook at least 3 times a week (sign us up!). How do you encourage your kids to get involved in the kitchen?
It starts with planning the week ahead and talking about what we want to eat. It helps that each day is a category: Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Soup & Salad Wednesdays etc. It keeps the choices narrowed down enough to not get lost in all the options, but also focused on a kind of food. I then create a list of the week’s dinners on the fridge so I can just point instead of answering “What’s for dinner?” Everyone helps with something during dinnertime from chopping, setting the table, washing dishes etc. Dinner is so much more appreciated when you realize the hard work that goes into feeding a family.
Your life is very full to say the least. What do you do to unplug from it all?
I love alone time. I wake up early to get that or I send all the kids off upstate with their father on the weekends when I really need to recharge. I love the silence (or as much as you can get in the city) and try to do a few hours without music or tv.
Laugh. Every single day. Because otherwise you’ll take things too seriously.
If you want your kids to pick up a good habit make sure you’re already doing it. They can sniff you out.
Let your kids be bored, it’s good for them. Stop worrying about scheduling their entire day (week, month, year, life).
Be on the lookout for the new Huckle & Goose cookbook coming in May 2019 by Harper Collins. The book focuses on making seasonal cooking a habit.
Photos by Alice Gherasim.