Food issues in newly arrived kids

One of the chapters I’m working on in my adoption book is about kids and food issues.  I’d really love to hear from all you adoptive parents on this topic.  Was food a tough issue when your child first came home?  How old was your child on homecoming?  How long did their issues with food persist?  Were there things you wish you’d done differently?  What did you do that seemed to help?

Our hardest food adjustment has definitely been with our oldest-adopted kids, who spent a decade eating Ethiopian food, and then were confronted by American food, which is so full of cheese and white sauce and creamy richness.  They’re good sports about food these days, but for awhile I think they may have been convinced that there was nothing worth eating in all of America except bread and eggs and bananas and a very few other things.  It was pretty humbling for a momma who always thought she was a decent cook, let me tell ya.

I’d love comments from anyone who’s had experience with helping adopted kids work through food issues.  And just to make this thread a little more fun, I’m going to give away a copy of my cookbook Family Feasts for $75 a Week to one random reader who takes a moment to comment with their experiences with kids and food issues.

{ 36 Comments }

  1. I have found the book Love Me, Feed Me very helpful with our 2 older children we are in process of adopting from Latvia and highly recommend it for all adoptive parents. It is a terrific resource for us and I don’t know how I could handle their selective eating etc. without it.

    • Thanks so much for the book recommendation. If you don’t mind sharing, I’d love to hear a specific suggestion or two that you found most helpful?

      Mary

  2. Our son was 3 1/2 years old when he came home. His paperwork said ‘severely malnourished’ and he was extremely teeny. We asked for advice and were told to have food out for him so that he was not anxious about when his next meal would be. This helped a lot. Healthy fruits and veggies were always left out. The first two weeks were very rough. He would gorge and never wanted to stop eating. We would entice him away from the table but NEVER clear away his dish until the next meal. He wouldn’t really pick at it but he didn’t want to see it removed. I learned how to cook Ethiopian and it was offered at most meals, including injera. That way he could try American food on his own terms. We very quickly learned that cheese and other milk products just was not good for him but other than that he rather quickly adapted to American food. Ethiopian is still his favorite and we probably have it once a week, but now 2 years later, he eats mostly American food. In the beginning we left the house with his pockets stuffed with crackers. The gorging stopped within a few weeks. We made sure not to offer high calorie food as snacks. That said, if we were out and he was offered something we never said no. Even for milk stuff. It was important that he know we were always going to keep him fed. Even now I don’t limit, I simply make sure the food we have in the house is healthy. He’s been here 2 1/2 years and still has some food issues when he’s stressed, but other than that he’s a terrific eater and will try anything and everything. If anything, he’s made us all much healthier eaters than we might have been. He’s a joy to us and I’m so happy to be able to watch him grow.

  3. Amanda Elkohen says:

    We make the transition between American food and Israeli food with our kids every few years, and it can be hard on everyone. I try to limit the amount of milk drunk by giving Almond milk instead and also keeping the processed foods that are “treats” for us to a minimum. It would be easy to gorge on Ben and Jerry’s (2 for $5! one is $10 on sale in Israel), cheese sticks, and canned peaches, among other things.

  4. Claudia Pierce says:

    My son was 5 yrs at homecoming and my daughter was 2yrs. Adjusting to my American cooking was not an issue, they both ate anything I gave them (and still do now 6 yrs later). Their issues were with the amounts of food. My son would continue to eat until he was sick if I didn’t stop him. One party we went to after they had been home 3 months my daughter drank milk and juice until she vomited. My son continued to graze until I told him to stop, he then filled a plate of food and started eating, gagging down the food before it could come back up. I had to help them learn to feel satisfied and not over eat. I controlled portion sizes them, allowed second helpings only if I still felt hungry. It took at least a year before my son would express that he was full or satisfied.

  5. We adopted our daughter from foster care when she was 2. Her palate was definitely adjusted to junk food and she had come from a place where food was not provided with regularity. Also she didn’t seem to really understand the concept of mealtime. She’d see food out on the counter as I made dinner and beg for it. It took her a while to learn that we’d all eat together when the meal was ready. For the last 7 years we’ve fed her breakfast, lunch, and dinner with consistency, but she remains anxious about food. As I pass out treats, she becomes visibly nervous, as if fearing she’ll be missed. Now that she’s older, I can gently tease her and say, “You know I’m about to give you a slice of this cake. You’re going to really enjoy it” to help her become aware of those lingering anxieties. Like the others have mentioned, her “I’m full” sensor doesn’t seem to work very well and we often have to give her little cues.

    There are many things I wish we had done differently, but one thing I’m grateful we did right was to avoid making food become an issue of tension or dispute with her. Since it’s obviously an issue with deep emotional roots for her, we are careful not to add any baggage. As much as possible, we try not to comment on what or how she eats and emphasize that we will always provide as much as she needs.

  6. Shannon Foust says:

    We have fostered for 9 years with 4 children becoming permanent family members at various ages. The first one, a baby struggled with sucking issues and we had to change nipples so many times!! That was a challenge for this former breast feeding mamma! Most of our older kids have come from neglect issues so their palates become used to limited, cheap foods (like ramen etc) what I wish we hadn’t done early on is made a big deal out of it. How much anxiety is there when this whole new family is focused on what you are eating and not eating at every meal – ugh! I wish I hadn’t let it anger me or taken it personally. I wish I hadn’t reacted so many times. What I TRY to do is not make it an issue and just offer lots of. Choices. Try to include their favorite stuff even if its not something I would normally get. For dinner time I let it be optional. I know this sounds crazy but there is a lot of anxiety surrounding family traditions like dinner time which adds to the food issues. I find that if I just make dinner, set it out and let everyone know its ready then whoever is hungry can come eat it. If they aren’t ready they don’t have to eat right then. It works for us. If there’s a special occasion we will require everyone to be there even if they don’t eat. Anyway, that’s some of what we do (we have 9 kiddos all together…8still at home….6 under 18).

  7. I love reading this….so interesting!! I do not have adopted children, but I would LOVE some parenting advice for biological kids who are terribly picky eaters! 🙂 (if course, after you get information for your book :)) I have one (4 yo) who is and a younger little one (2 yo) who thinks it’s fun to copy big sis!! We are seeing similar habits beginning with her! :-/
    I am thinking about reading that French book about how their kids eat “everything” but I would love some good ole advice from parents 🙂
    Thanks a bunch!! 😉

    • Sorry for the errors :-/ fat fingers: little keyboard… Bad combo 🙂

      • Robin, What I did with my kids was require a few bites of everything we ate. We don’t routinely do snacks between meals, which means at mealtime, kids are actually hungry. Two of our kids are still a bit finicky, but most grew up to be very flexible eaters. I wrote a blog post with more details here: http://www.owlhaven.net/?s=raising+fearless+eaters

        Good luck! They’ll get it eventually.

        Mary

  8. Our kids were 8 and 9 when they came home and food was our BIGGEST issue. For the first two weeks, people from church were bringing us meals which was nice in a way but made it really difficult on the new kids who barely like anything. They ate a LOT of pasta, fruit and peanut butter sandwiches those first few weeks. When I did start cooking it didn’t take me very long to realize it was best to keep things REALLY simple. Like you said – no sauces, no gravy, etc. Hamburgers, grilled chicken, etc. I made sure that their plate always had two things they liked and one new thing. Sometimes the new thing was the main course, sometimes it was a vegetable. We asked that they at least try one bite of the new food. If they didn’t like it, they didn’t have to eat anymore and they could have as much of the other foods as they wanted. If the new thing was a main course then they were welcome to make a peanut butter sandwich to replace it. We whipped out the Amharic phrasebook one night and went to the food section. It was then that we found out they liked white corn (HAD to be white) and sweet potatoes.

    We just kept with it. Sometimes there were things they weren’t crazy about but would eat in small servings (like most vegetables). I just kept putting very small servings on their plate. We rewarded good attitudes and trying new foods with dessert which was nothing more than those cheap frozen Otter Pops. Over time I was able to increase the serving size of those “just okay” dishes and inevitably over time they’d surprise me by going back for seconds on something.

    At least a year after they’d been home, we were eating dinner (Chicken tetrizinni) and Luke exclaimed, “What are these green things. They’re really good. You should put more in next time.” They were green bell peppers. And he’d been picking them out of every dish for the last year. 🙂

    Now, 4.5 years home, there is very little they won’t eat. Luke still won’t eat hot dogs and Beza is not a huge fan of cheese. She’ll tolerate it in on enchiladas or on pizza but she won’t put it on burgers or ever eat a grilled cheese sandwich.

    In our house each kid is allowed to pick one food they don’t have to eat. When that item is served for dinner they have to fix themselves a replacement. For one kid it’s grilled chicken (go figure), for one it’s broccoli and for one it is hot dogs.

  9. Jessica Craven says:

    I want to start by declaring I am no expert and might have very well done everything wrong when it came to my kids and food. But we did get one of our daughters from the foster care system when she was 4 1/2. She had been neglected and hungry but when she first entered foster care her family over indulged her for the six months before she came to us. She was overweight and bloated with fast food.
    We found that she was hungry eating the lean meals and whole foods we try to serve. This resulting in her feeling extremely insecure. I noticed that she was very aware of everyone’s portion size at dinner as I would dish it out. She would ask repeatedly for snacks and even ask other moms at the playground for their kid’s snacks.
    We began having really big breakfasts. Oatmeal with fruit and yogurt or eggs, muffins and sausage, etc. It helped curb the morning cravings before lunch. Then we would eat sensibly through the day. I think starting the day with the daily reminder that we will feed her enough started her day right.
    At night we would also set a banana or apple on her night stand just in case she got hungry. For weeks it was eaten before we ever went to bed but gradually she would fall asleep and never think about it. Two years later, we don’t do that.
    We also tried to teach her that the amount of food she gets to consume is proportional with her activity. To reward bike riding, we would stop for frozen yogurt and explain that the more work her body does, the more food she needs. She caught on quick and went from being lethargic, lying around obsessing about food to wanting to be active to get more snacks. She looks so healthy; her weight is great and her hair and skin are glowing.
    She has come a long way and we are still working on it. Recently I even let her dish out her portion for dinner and it went pretty well. I think time has been the best healer. She has learned through our consistency that love doesn’t come from food in our family but rather hugs and book readings and bedtime cuddles.

  10. When our boys first arrived from Ukraine they liked mashed potatoes, bananas, and some breads. Two of the three liked tuna fish while all of them liked hot dogs. That was it. They weren’t used to meats much unless they were tiny pieces in soups. I went against my “real food” nature and bought a big box of instant potato flakes and served them with each meal. After a while, I stirred things into them like cheese,meat gravy, tuna and peas, etc. But it took a while. They ate soup (mostly potato) so I put small amounts of new foods into their soup. Tiny pieces, pureed or grated) for them to eat and some bigger ones to pick around. I went on the assumption that they would not starve themselves. They didn’t. They just needed to get used to our new smells and flavors.
    Food can be such a huge issue for newly adopted kids that it is hard to address in short comments. We never had issues with hoarding. Many people do. I don’t know if it was because they just didn’t do it or if it was because of something we did. My theory was that once they got used to the smells of our food, it would make it easier for them to like it. It worked! But again, I gave them smaller portions of new things, realizing that a larger portion of something new would be overwhelming to their senses and would be too much for them.
    We recognized that some would like some foods and others not. All people have preferences. The trick was discovering the difference between things that they truly didn’t like and things that they just hadn’t acquired a taste for yet.
    Of my seven kids, my three adopted boys are by far my best eaters. They eat most vegetables, enjoy cheesy dishes, and salads. One still prefers not to have to eat fish and another doesn’t really enjoy zucchini. But, thankfully, they will all happily eat pizza! Haha! That was our one non-negotiable. I declared one day, “You HAVE to like pizza in America!”

  11. While the subject is adoption, food issues are a huge problem with recent immigrants or American citizens who have lived abroad for any length of time.
    My daughter-in-law came here about seven years ago from Philippines and could not tolerate American food for upwards of a year. She found the food too greasy and too much junk in it for her stomach to tolerate. Now this many years later, the only food she is unable to eat still is chocolate and soda—no big loss there. She loves all American food, especially fresh fruit, but still holds a special place for Asian cuisine and rice.
    When it comes to my children who have visited and/or lived abroad: having to do without is a big adjustment when it comes to food. While in the extreme highlands of Scotland don’t expect to find fresh food of any variety and less sighting of the sun, and in South Africa s’mores are made with saltines because graham crackers are as foreign as we are American, peanut butter is non-existent in Germany, and two of my girls lived on mangos and rice during six month stint in Cambodia (everything too expensive there to purchase), and in parts of the United States a person cannot find string cheese or whips (another form of cheese).
    For most households, if a supply of fruit and vegetables is kept on the counter with an abundance of drinks, kids will have the security of knowing there is food in the house and at their disposal. No matter adopted children or not, there must be a sense of security in knowing there will always be food available to them.

  12. Just a couple weeks ago my two oldest Ethiopian kiddos started eating salad. Yes, salad. This was worthy of celebration as the past three years in our home have been salad free…..and I love salad. I’ve been really impressed with how far they’ve come when it comes to food. I’ll never forget my now 11-year-old hiding chewed up green beans in his cheeks at the dinner table so he could spit it in the toilet.

    In my experience, it’s all about patience and maintaining a sense of joy around mealtime. We were strict in that every meal had to include a healthy protein, a veggie and a whole grain…..but if they didn’t like what I was serving they could opt for something else that fit the criteria. In the end, our kids have told me they wanted to like the foods I served because food is such a celebration in our family. It’s more fun to fully participate and expand one’s palette.

    I also worked hard to maintain a taste of their home as a staple in our house. Don’t like the casserole? Put some berbere on it and it suddenly tastes like home. Many of my favorite dishes have been made better by the flavors of my kids’ cuisine. Hummus with Ethiopian spices? Delicious!

  13. Our son was 17 months at home coming and is now 7 and we have had many food related issues. He had a very hard time at first because he wanted all of the food to be ” his” For months I reassured him that there was always more food when he was hungry and always left fruit and veggies out for snacking. We worked on sharing by using a veggie platter and filling it with a variety of helathy food so my three boys could share. As well, his two older brothers along with my husband and I always modelled how to share food- when buying a treat- we would discuss that we were buying one package of skittles and sharing with everyone. Our son also drank out of puddles and dog dishes when he was thirsty as this what his life necessitated in Ethiopia according to his memory! I made sure to always have a water bottle and attached a small one to his belt so he had a clean option! As well, our son has had a really difficult time recognizing when he is hungry. He often chooses to eat very little or not at all and then gets really cranky later. When he was really young we actually had to put food in his mouth for him to recognize that hunger was making him upset and grumpy. I made high protein snacks ( oats, peanut butter, seeds) etc. and had them available along with crackers etc. As he went to daycare and school we needed to make sure his care providers and teachers were aware that he does not always recognize the feeling of hunger until he is starving. We also continue to ensure meals are on a schedule so his body knows the routine of eating. 6 years later still some challenges but he is healthy and happy and knows a lot about nutrition and how to keep his body and mind healthy!

    • Thanks for sharing. While I knew food issues were abundant in adopted kids, I really did not think it would be quite that substantial or take such a long time to overcome in one that young.

  14. We adopted our three kids at 13, 13, and 11 all at the same time from Eastern Europe. One of our sons needed surgery and physiotherapy two weeks after arriving. This required a lot of driving around usually sometime around lunch. We learned early on that our kids hated going into restaurants. It seemed like pure torture for them and they would glare at us and mutter unlovely things under their breath the whole meal. So when we needed food while out the drive thru became our answer. (Packing a lunch to eat on the road would have been better but at the time just getting to the physiotherapist on time was all I could manage.) After a few months and looking for something healthier than hamburgers I thought they may be well behaved enough for just me to go into a Subway and order sandwiches. I parked our minivan directly in front of the front window so I could keep my eye on them. It was lunch time so the line was about 7 people long. I waited nervously looking back at the van every few seconds to check on them. Exactly one person from the counter I turned back to see limbs and feet flying while our minivan rocked with my three kids actually attempting to kick each other in the head in that confined space. I ran out in horror and embarrassment as the packed restaurant watched. Needless to say we went back to drive thru while out for quite some time.
    Eleven years later, our now adult children are pretty healthy eaters. They prefer salads, fruit, fish, potatoes, soup, bread and even sushi to almost anything. They have some food issues still but now being able to feed themselves whatever they want none of them have starved and none over-eat either.

  15. Our son is adopted from foster care and not terribly picky, so it hasn’t been as difficult for us. For the first 2 years, I really tried to avoid any conflicts about food. But it got to a point where he was getting really demanding, arguing, filling up on snacks instead of meals, and taking a long time to choose a snack so he could stay up later at night. Our issues were not about the types of foods but about him being in charge and sometimes I think I gave him too many choices!

    After getting advice form some other adoptive parents, I began to make a weekly menu and post it on the fridge. I let him have input and made acceptable variations on meals he didn’t like (my older bio kids like a lot of healthy and international foods). Having the menu, which includes 3 snacks a day, has taken away a huge amount for stress for both him and I. He can run and look and know exactly what he will be having.

    Around this same time my husband changed jobs and we needed to cut our grocery budget, so it was a good time to tell him we wouldn’t be buying some of the pre-packaged kind of things I had been getting just for him, and he’s been fine with it.

    We grew a big garden this year and he has been eating so many vegetables. If they can grow it or help cook it, they are more likely to eat it. I also discovered in a setting with friends or extended family he will eat a lot more variety because he wants to be like everyone else, and that has helped him try new things.

    I do have one thing that I wonder if anyone else has experienced. He is quite squeamish and has thrown up because of a sight or smell before. He is really bothered by seeing people chew, like if a kid has a messy mouth, to the point where he has thrown up in a restaurant. Sometimes he doesn’t want to come to the table if we are serving certain things, or if younger cousins are eating near him. I don’t know how to help him overcome this.

  16. I am in the middle of the adoption process, so I don’t have any stories to share, but I would love to hear from others….how do your biological children handle it if you need to allow your newly adopted children to ease into the new food? Is it possible to have one set of rules for your bio kids and a more lenient (with good reason) set of rules for your adopted children without causing all kinds of contention and problems? We have pretty high expectations for our kids now (we actually eat vegan the majority of the time at home), and I know we are going to have to do some shuffling.

    • HI Katie,
      We also had pretty high standards for our kids. When the older-adopted kids came home, we let a lot of stuff slide for awhile. At first it was ok, and made sense, but after awhile there did get to be some resentment– and not only from the kids. WE were getting tired allowing stuff we didn’t really care for– it tended to be more with behavioral stuff than with food, tho. We eventually had to get more consistent and hold everyone to the same standards. But we did a lot of explaining at first to help the other kids understand why we were letting the new ones have slightly different rules at first.

  17. We have 5 children, two of whom are adopted. Our biggest food challenge came with our youngest daughter who was adopted at 4 from a special needs orphanage in China. We can gauge her level of stress by the amount of food she will eat. The more stressed she is, the less she will eat! Mornings before school are particularly challenging. She likes school but the impending transition leaves her in state of anxiety and she simply won’t eat, no matter what we offer (and believe me, we have tried everything!). She usually comes home from school with no lunch eaten, probably because she feels a need to stay hyper vigilant the whole lunch period. She will often gorge and carbo-load when she gets home in the late afternoon. Supper, with the whole family, can also challenge her because she is stressed by the intimacy and attachments of a family meal. So, it is not any specific food that causes the problem but food intake is definitely a barometer of her stress level. We try not to dwell on food as an issue other than to make sure she has eaten something during the day, hopefully with some kind of nutritional balance. We do get frustrated because we throw a lot of her meals out, since she hardly eats them and it is hard not to be concerned about getting enough nutrition into her. On the other hand, she isn’t underweight anymore (she was when she first came to us) and she is quite energetic and athletic so she seems to be getting sufficient food for her needs.

  18. Amanda K. says:

    Our daughter came home as a 4 year old from Congo. We did have quite a few issues at first, but I would say within a month or so she was eating most everything that we did. The best luck I had for lunches and dinners was to just cook some chicken, or buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, then make a little instant rice or beans and she was good to go!I would also make a really easy version of ham and beans for her, my other two kids hate it, but I love it. So I would share that with her. But I always had her try what the rest of the family was eating and slowly she came around. The biggest issue was milk! She still hates the taste of milk to this day and she has been home about 8 months. I was concerned about her getting enough calcium, but I discovered a lifesaver! Silk fruit and protein! All the same good stuff her needs but in a mango flavor she loves!

  19. May I suggest “start with the end in mind”?
    I think no matter the issue and no matter with who, lots of struggles can be eased when we picture what we want in the end first.
    I want healthy, happy, well-adjusted children.
    What can I do this minute/today to create a path that leads to that?

    I may loose track of the path during the day but I can always go back to it before bed and when I rise.
    I helps to put the focus back on where I want to go rather than where I am stuck in the moment.

  20. Since lots of parents with older children have chimed in, I thought I’d share our experience with a younger child. We adopted our first daughter from India at age 1, and our second will come home later this year. She is 2 years old. My suggestion (which may or may not be possible to do) is to find out as much as you can at the orphanage about how and what your child ate.

    Younger kids may not be used to things such as straws or sippy cups, and may have eaten with hands vs. utensils. She may not have eaten the foods we think of first when we think of her culture — our daughter didn’t eat “Indian” or spicy food, but rather bland rice with bits of fish and vegetables. Doing a little investigative work while you’re there might help avoid problems later.

    If you’re adopting a bottle-fed child, know that they may not have been held, or the caregivers may have held a bottle for two kids at a time — so no eye contact, no cuddles. The first time I cradled my daughter to feed her a bottle, she panicked — eye contact with a stranger was too much for her (and she would sit up & feed herself a bottle, to boot). We held her on our laps at first, facing away from us, to end her 24-hour food/bottle “strike.” We also purchased formula in-country to help her adjust to our formula (50%-50% mix at first).

    There are also some genetic predispositions for different people groups — for example, Indian people are more likely to be lactose intolerant/have dairy allergies. Our daughter just doesn’t like milk, but one of her cribmates was very pukey and crabby . . . and her smart mama thought to remove dairy from her diet. Once she was on soy formula/almond milk, she did really well.

    With our next daughter, we are researching feeding issues with toddlers who have cleft palate, so I’m sure there will be plenty of unknowns . . . both because she’s older, and because of her cleft. I’ve really appreciated everyone’s input here, and look forward to your book, Mary!

  21. Upon homecoming, my children were 5, 5, 7, and 11. All are from Ethiopia, and all were malnourished. I read somewhere from an adoption doctor not to say “no” to your child’s request to eat for 2 years after arriving home. We followed that pretty tight with our first adoption, and let me tell you, my boy could eat! I stocked up on bananas, peanut butter and bread (all familiar to him from ET), and man did I slather the PB on thick. He has been home three years now, and we have just begun teaching him gently about healthy portions. I will ask him to wait a couple minutes or to drink more water, etc between servings to better help him judge whether he is truly hungry. New three have been home just 11 months now, so I am still careful to give them very generous 1st and 2nd servings. 3rds come after a moment to rest their belly, and drink some water, but food is always available if they want it. My oldest (11 at home coming) has had to learn to take her fair share. She kept trying to wait until everyone else had eaten, or would try not to eat so much in order to save more for the rest of us. I try to keep food visible (fruit basket or example) as a reminder that we will NOT run out of food. I have also involved the 11yo (and all of them at some point) in grocery shopping, so they can feel more secure in understanding how we acquire our food, etc.

  22. Our son, from Ghana, was 6 and a half at home coming. He did not want to try any foods initially. I made some rice that he liked. I made and bought different kinds of chicken and rice so that he always had that available. I told him he could eat it every meal if he wanted. I always had eggs, fruits and vegetables for him. I would try introducing him to different foods. Sometimes he tried them. We found he loved kung pao chicken and buffalo wings so we would have that once a week. As he started liking more of a variety of food, we encouraged him to always try one bite of what I made. Usually he would. Sometimes he refused. Bi didn’t make a big deal of it. Over time he started loving American food. Now he loves to help me cook. I think it helped me being more relaxed about it and giving him time. I like plain food and am not adventurous. I would have hated being pressured to eat things I don’t want so I didn’t do that to him.

  23. Kate in NY says:

    My son was nearly 7 at homecoming (from Ethiopia). He was (and is) quite selective in his eating – though I wouldn’t say “picky,” necessarily, because he has always leaned towards foods that are quite healthy – fruit, veggies, meat. Sometimes I just wish he would eat some cereal, or macaroni and cheese! Or chocolate! But his tastes have always been quite clearly defined (QUITE), and the funny thing is that over the years, the rest of the family has started gravitating more toward his type of diet. I realize it is essentially the trendy “Paleo” diet – and we all feel better when we limit the grains (yes, even the “good” grains), dairy and sugar. Who’d have thunk it?

  24. Our son was foster to adopt and came from another foster care situation into our home at the age of 13 months, finalization was at 22 months. When he came into our home, even though he was over one year, he was still on only formula and no solid foods. The minute we introduced him to solid food he acted like he had been starving and could never trust anyone to feed him with any regularity again. He is now seven. We continue to have issues with him “stealing” food from the pantry (always snacks or an unhealthy choice) and then not eating when it is mealtime. He does not seem comfortable that he is going to be fed. He will be eating breakfast and ask what is for lunch. All of these issues have gotten better over time, but it is still a constant battle with him. I think the hardest food issue is that he will go around us to the grand[parents for food and they don’t understand the importance of us being the provider for this important part of attachment and trust for him.

  25. Our son, David, was 2 1/2 when we adopted him in China, and was clearly undernourished (distended belly, protruding ribs, bowed legs). We learned quickly not to remove his plate from the table until the next meal. We are also learning that undernourishment affects not only his feelings about actual food, but has a neurological impact that affects his behavior. This spring, we switched from “feeding on schedule” to “feeding on demand” – we were seeing that blood sugar drops really affected his behavior. Our other 3 children understand that if they want a snack too close to a meal, they need only to wait a little bit to eat; however, if David says he’s hungry, he gets a healthy snack (veggies, fruit, cheese) no matter how close to the meal we are. He may eat less at the meal, but then makes up for it throughout the day with more healthy grazing. It seems to regulate his blood sugar levels and therefore, his behavior.

  26. I fed kids that were not mine for a few years.
    They had different habits and food tastes than ours.
    Instead of filling their plates with what I thought they should eat, I put everything on the table buffet style and declared “you take what you want but you eat what you take”.
    It worked really well.

  27. I look forward to reading your book, whether we win a copy of it or not. We are in the process of being matched with a sibling group, so I’m a sponge right now, soaking up all the advice, tips, counsel, and wisdom you experienced adoptive moms have to share to help our journey play out a little smoother than it might have been. Thank you, all of you, for your input!

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