Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Hunger has been on my mind lately. I was holding baby Ryder today, as he was getting hungry and ready for his next meal. He started crying this pitiful cry. Nothing else would do for this child. He just needed to eat. Even for the few moments it took me to make his bottle it was hard to hear him crying out for a need. Thankfully I could meet that need in just a few minutes.

I started to think about Bright. His mom passed away when he was about the same age that Ryder is now. How helpless his family must have felt to hear his cries and have no milk to feed him. How long did he have to cry before they found some liquid "something" to pour into his mouth? How much did he miss having nothing to suckle even when he did get some calories into his body?

I just hurt for my baby to have gone through that. He got enough to stay alive until he was 11 months old. Just. Barely. Enough. I believe with all of my heart that he wouldn't have made it to 12 months without intervention. Thank God for intervening for him.

But Bright is not without scars from hunger. The longer he is home the more pronounced his issues become. We haven't totally wrapped our minds around what is going on, but something is going on.

Everybody looks at Bright and just assumes that he is an amazingly good eater that will put down whatever you sit in front of him. Not so. When he first got home he did a bit of that, but not for long. Since the day I met him Bright has had a love for items that have sugar in them. Anything that is sweet--that's his thing. If it were up to him he would refuse every meal and hold out for a sweet desert or snack. This love of sweets has gone beyond cute and straight into concerning.

Bright will get up in the middle of the night and come downstairs. He will open the fridge or pantry and gorge on sweet things. Once he got a brand new box of Chips A'hoy cookies and ate the ENTIRE bag. We now have locks on our fridge and pantry. But any chance he gets to sneak and eat, he will take it. I've heard of kids that hide and gorge on food, but not kids that limit this only to sweet foods. Anybody heard of this before? It makes sense to me because good stuff is released in the brain when you eat sweet things. He is probably getting a chemical pay off when he eats the sweets.

The other side is that he is now eating less and less "real" food. He used to be a decent eater. But his newest thing is simply to refuse to eat his meals. I've been fairly lenient on this in the past, but the last several months I've been very firm that there will be no other snacks if he doesn't eat his meals. That worked for a while. But now we've gone to the next level. Yesterday he at a decent breakfast and was then given chicken noodle soup for lunch (a food that he likes). He didn't eat a single bite. After a while I took it away and put it in the fridge. No snacks. It was offered again at dinner. Not a bit. Again, no snacks. It was offered again at breakfast this morning. He didn't take a bite. URGH! By mid morning it had been over 24 hours since Bright had eaten and I could tell it was taking a toll on him. I offered the noodles again. He wasn't going to eat them at lunch either, except that I gave in a bit and fed him bites. Then he would take some bites. Finally he finished off the noodles. Thank the Lord! Then some cheese crackers. Then some yogurt. Then some cottage cheese. =-)

I really hoped I had made my point and that he would eat his meals in the future, but we're now into hour two of him sitting at the table not eating his dinner. =-(

I think that Bright is here today, in part, because he is stubborn. I can just see him crying and crying and crying until SOMETHING could be found to feed him. That stubbornness probably kept him alive. He did what he could to control his food situation, even as a tiny infant. Now, as a 3 year old, he is still doing what he can to control his food situation. I feel so sad for him. I wish I could take away the hunger he felt for his first year of life. I wish I could fix whatever is "broken" in his little mind that tells him not to eat food that is offered, but to take food that is not good for him.

Please pray for my baby. He will never feel physical hunger again like he did in Ghana. But there is a different "hunger" in his little heart that is much harder to feed.


Laurel 7:21 PM  

So sorry to hear about Bright's "hunger". Maybe when you feed him (rather than him feeding himself) he is somehow getting the mama's care that he missed so much.


Bingaling 7:35 PM  

So sorry that Bright is struggling with this. Poor kiddo. Poor mama. Praying that his hunger is satiated and that his life becomes more balanced in this area.

I've been thinking a lot about hunger lately, too. And it also has to do with a little Ghanaian.
Hugs to you!

Amy 8:30 PM  

Oh Anita, how heartbreaking. Sending you a long distance hug. You are such an intuitive Mama and I'm sure you'll continue to listen to your heart about how to best help your baby work through these issues. Love you!


A. Gillispie 8:30 PM  


It's a good point. It's so hard to know what is a need and what is a manipulation. We did lots of regression stuff with Bright when he came home, and for a good year there after. We did bottles and formula and hand feeding and all that good stuff. Now that Kendi is coming home I will need to give her that same sort of attention. I just don't know...

Chanda, praying with you for that same little Ghanaian!


Instantly Mama 8:54 PM  

How heartbreaking. I'm sorry he is having to deal with all of this. I don't have any advice but will be praying that God gives you wisdom for how to heal his broken heart.

Laurel 1:17 AM  

Oh how well I know the juggling act of "need" versus "manipulation" ... with both my bio. kids and my adopted kids.

I did have 1 bio. kid that just wanted/needed the "mommy feed me" for much longer than the other kids. While I didn't understand what exactly he was needing, I realized that I was fulfilling some type of need by giving him that "little extra" at meal times. The rest of the time ... he never acted "like a baby" ... he just wanted more of me at meal times.


Deborah 5:31 AM  

Poor Bright! And how sad for his Mama to watch him suffer, too...I'm so thankful that you shared this part of your life with us. I assumed because he was so young when he was adopted, that there wouldn't be issues like this. The first years of life are just amazing - the Lord truly designed babies to be held and loved and nurtured. I'm so glad that he has you.

Calico Sky 5:41 AM  

Your blog is wonderful!

I went through food related issues in my fostering days, it is so tough. Here's a few things that I'd suggest:

1. The sweet stuff is often craved when blood sugar levels are low, has his blood sugar ever been tested?

2. I would feed mine if they were struggling - boy did it make a difference, especially with things like soups. Helped with eye contact, they relaxed etc.

3. I follow the if you get them involved in food prep, they are more interested motto (this theory has been tested and proved by Jamie Oliver here in England), so as much as possible I would get them involved. Meals focused around making sure there were good grains, dairy and the 5 a day focus on fruits and vegs for cancer prevention, blood sugar control, lessen hyperactivity, help with learning etc. So, we would count our fruit and veg a day, putting stickers on charts when we had acheived eating what was healthy for our bodies. I would say with enthusiasm "we need to have two veggies with our dinner, let's see we have carrots, peas and broccoli, can you choose which 2 you would like and then help me wash them and prepare them". Feeling they chose the foods (but I controlled what they were being offered to make sure they got the recommended minimum of fruit/veg/dairy/grains etc) and helped "cook" them made such a difference.

4. Meals were always a variety - incase one texture wasn't a favourite, it didn't mean they didn't have to have some of it, but that I knew they'd get calories and nutrition from other foods. For example I might give a small bowl of soup that doesn't look too intimidating with crackers, cheese, strawberries and carrot sticks, rather than a larger bowl of soup. I remember once going to a friends for dinner and being served a giant piece of liver with a small salad. Oh how terrible it was and I was violently sick afterwards, but it reminded me that basically had it been a tiny piece of liver, some peas, potatoes and salad I probably would of been better off and not literally been throwing up for hours and hours and hours.

I have to say, I really love your blog. I wished I had known about it when I was fostering my 4 kids! And my Godson is from Ghana so there's a special connection there!

Best wishes!

Renee 6:21 AM  

Oh Anita that is so hard.

Food is so closely connected with emotions. I think it's easy to minimize it's importance ..after all it is only food right is often my thought, but in the Bible it is talked about a lot. Look how much the Israelites had food issues when they were in the desert. Notice how many times Jesus uses food as an analogy..or how many times it mentioned he ate with people or fed people.

The lack of our food our children suffered did affect their hearts.

We had one of our Ethiopian children who was malnourished come home as a gorger. It was so hard to see and watch. But the Lord and time healed him of this.

One of our Ghanaian sons finds eating Ghanaian dishes too hard and emotional. It makes sense. i can eat food s and be transformed emotionally right back to my mother's kitchen.

What if you had a small sweet at the end of every meal. Perhaps a small handful of yogurt (or even chocolate covered raisins) after he finishes his real food. I find deprivation methods just don't work with our children who came to us through adoption as they do our bio children. I believe it's because they have suffered deprivation to the extreme and they get stuck into the emotional I am being deprived mode and never connect that it's a consequence to wrong behavior.

You are an awesome Mom. Praying Sweet Kendi home.

Beckie Sibley 10:06 AM  

Was he fed sugar water for those calories in his early years? If so, perhaps that is why he craves sweets now.

We actually had this problem with our granddaughter whose diet was mostly sugary foods before moving in with us. She refused to eat. I explained the importance of nutritious food (she couldn't have care less) in hopes that she would understand we were on the same team. I started off by giving her a treat after a well-eaten meal. That didn't work because the treat would make her not eat the next meal.

So, we changed to end of day treats. If she ate good meals through the day, she had a treat at night. We never used withholding food or treat as a punishment. We simply explained to her that treats made her too full to eat healthy. It wasn't her fault.

When we moved to Zambia, there were no affordable treats to be had. Her appetite changed dramatically. She was able to eat very healthy, abundant meals three times a day. It was great.

These are just my experiences. You are a loving and wise mommy. Continue to pray for God's wisdom and guidance for your little guy as you have from the beginning.

Blessings and hugs to you and your sweet family.

In His Dust 10:07 AM  

Hey girl, just wanted to let you know that my biological child does this exact SAME thing. Some of the time he won't eat anything for 2 meals straight (very stubborn) but, bring out the sweets and he will eat those until he is sick (even though I don't let him). I have also caught him eating sweets. I could totally see him eating an entire bag of cookies! So, I have actually had the same thoughts about his sweets "addiction" being a problem. It goes way over the top of what I think to be normal. I mean he will cry and beg for sweet stuff! I am not in any way saying this is not an adoption/past hunger issues thing. Just letting you know we are going through the same thing!=)

A. Gillispie 7:23 PM  

Thank you all for your wonderful comments and suggestions. I'm prayerfully considering how we should handle all of this with Bright. It's funny how after you draw attention to something it seems to get better for a while. Bright ate Breakfast perfectly by himself. At lunch we were in a rush so I fed him and he ate readily. And dinner I served him a big salad (salad only for dinner tonight) and thought it would be a huge struggle. Nope--he ate the entire thing on his own in record time! So today was a good day.

Heather A. 9:13 PM  

Oh, hugs, hugs and more hugs. I know how frustrating that is. It sounds A LOT like Sophia. She would eat nothing but sweet junk if I let her, and we also have locked the kitchen. She'll actually take the sugar out of the cupboard and eat it plain.

Do you think that it might have something to do with Ryder being in the house now? By not eating, Bright is forcing you to focus on HIM. Perhaps he feels replaced by a new baby in the house and is using food to control you?

Praying for your baby boy.