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Severe Feeding Challenges: The Hardest Part

April 23, 2017 0 Comments

We started the adoption process in 2005, right before the big slowdown.

We didn’t end up traveling until 2007, so I spent every free moment reading adoption stories and joining every adoption-related yahoo group out there. I felt as well-educated as one could possibly be.

Unfortunately, there were only the “ladybugs and unicorns” stories out there, you know the ones…. love at first sight, instant bonding, potty trained at a year old, rapid catch up while in China, eating anything and everything, and on and on.

Armed with all of the knowledge I could gather, we requested a child 18 to 28 months. We had three daughters at home, and the youngest was eight years old when we were DTC. We knew so many people were first time parents and wanted as young as possible, so we consciously chose older to give another parent the chance for a baby.

Since our girls were getting older, we also wanted the age gap to be smaller. Honestly, I was looking forward to being past the baby stage, three times was enough. I had envisioned adopting a child that would love any and all food, which would be quite welcomed since my third child had eating issues.

We got our long awaited call with the news that we were referred a beautiful 15 month girl. She ended up being the oldest child in our large adoption group. She also ended up being the only child that refused solid food.

Initially, I thought she was just too traumatized to eat and gave her time. I tried to give her one Cheerio, and she acted like I just put a bug in her mouth. She was unable to suck, and chewed down on the nipple to drink.

After several days, she still refused any solids while the young babies were eating everything. I thought that maybe it was just us and so I asked our guide to see if she could get her to eat something from her. Maybe she would take food from someone that was Chinese? She screamed and cried as our guide shoved food in her mouth – looking back at the video of that makes me cry. We gave up on trying to feed her and just gave her bottles, we knew building trust was more important.

We got home and got into a regular routine. She was only 15 pounds at 15 months, so we gradually increased the amount in her bottles. She was used to eating when the bottle was there instead of when she was hungry. Sadly, she just didn’t understand what hunger was.

It actually took more than a year, maybe two, to teach her to tell us she wanted a bottle. We tried all of the suggestions, let her play with food, put her at the table with us, put her around other kids that were eating… nothing worked. Over the next several months, we graduated to adding baby food in the bottle. She never minded the different flavors, and I felt like we were making some major progress.

We were referred to a speech pathologist as part of her early intervention services, and she was evaluated after being home for three months. The speech therapist said she had never seen a child with such oral defensiveness; and any that remotely resembled my daughter had been abused. This same SP also told me she wasn’t talking yet because I was coddling her.

We promptly fired her. She was the first of many that had no idea what to do with my daughter.

I learned a lot that first year, mostly by my own research.

My daughter had severe sensory integration disorder and global developmental delay.

I felt lost.

There were no local professionals that even remotely knew anything about issues specific to international adoption. We did everything possible that could be done either at home or at a facility.

At one point, she finally accepted a Cheerio that I had crushed and put on her tongue. This slowly, over the next few years, led to one or two finger foods. In the meantime, her bottle now contained a full jar of baby food, formula, vitamins and a protein supplement.

She was happy. We were happy.



But that didn’t stop us from trying to get her to try new things. We discovered that she did not have full control over her tongue movements. She could not stick it out very far and could not make it go up or down. We worked with a speech pathologist for feeding and control of her tongue.

We got some improvement with coordination and she tried new foods. Meanwhile, outside pressure and judgment from others was ever-looming.

People who knew us well would ask us, “Did you try giving her ice cream? All kids love ice cream.” Yes I did, and no, all children don’t love ice cream.

I know they were all trying to help….

Our story has been unfolding over nine years, and is still very much in progress.

She used a bottle until she was seven years old. She ate a few other foods at the time, but her bottle was her safety net, it was packed with calories and at least I knew she was getting what she needed to grow and thrive.

Things went downhill after she gave up her bottle. Her food choices gradually decreased instead of increasing. Fortunately, the five or so things she does eat are nutritious.

We have found that there is a strong emotional component to her lack of eating, and we are exploring that route.

The hardest part of this journey has been the harsh judgment of others.

For the past nine years, this poor child has been in multiple therapies constantly. Friends seem to want to prove me wrong, that – if given the chance – they could make her eat.

My daughter has learned to fake eat, just to fit in. She really wants to eat like everyone else, she just can’t manage to do it yet.

That is what people don’t understand, the desire is there, but the ability isn’t.

Shaming and bullying her will never get her where she needs to be, yet well meaning people continue to do it. I’ve developed thick skin like an elephant by now, but it still hurts.

I hope to be able to write a follow-up of our feeding challenges success one day. I have yet to encounter another family with issues as severe as our daughter’s. But I hope our story is helpful and offers useful suggestions for any other struggling families.



– guest post by Suzanne

Waiting for You: Shaw

April 22, 2017 0 Comments

Shaw is a precious three year old boy who waits for a family of his own. He is currently listed with WACAP with a $2,000 grant. He needs someone to help him put a smile on his sweet little face.



Shaw’s primary special is transfusion dependent thalassemia. He also has some cardiac issues which may be related to the anemia he suffers from the thalassemia. He currently receives blood tranfusions every one to two months. He is described as having good mobility and excellent fine motor skills. He can follow instructions given to him by a caregiver, for example throwing away a piece of trash.



Like many children his age, Shaw prefers not to share his toys with other children. He enjoys building towers with blocks when he is playing and he really likes playing ball games. Shaw is speaking simple words and phrases. He knows what the different parts of his face are and he will point to them when his caretaker asks him to identify his nose, eyes, mouth, ears, etc. Shaw knows how to put his shoes on by himself. He gets upset when he doesn’t get enough cuddles from his caretakers. When Shaw goes to sleep at night he usually sucks on his fingers.




Please contact WACAP for more information on Shaw or to pursue his adoption.

Love Stories: Luo Mama

April 21, 2017 0 Comments

We are so quick to fill in the blanks, aren’t we? We get one part of a story, and we use our imagination to complete the rest.

But it’s too simplistic to do that with the care of orphaned children halfway around the world… to see an image and create a tragic narrative, hear a testimony and judge an entire community, read an account of a single incident and make assumptions about an entire system.

We want to have eyes to see the good.

And there is most definitely good to be found. So this month we are sharing stories that exemplify the good. The lovely. The things that remind us that there is always hope.

Join us this month as we share stories of love in the unlikeliest of places.



……….

International China Concern (ICC) has been working in China with abandoned children who have medical disabilities for 24 years. Over the years we have watched many children grow into adulthood, as ICC provides care for as long as each child needs us.

But growing alongside those that stay with us throughout life are those that leave us, those that move on to the care of their adoptive families. I’ve noticed these children too remain ever in the hearts of their caregivers here in China, who fight for them and love them from the day they are placed in their arms, right until the day they are taken to the capital city to meet their forever families, and then fly off overseas.

Luo Mama is one caregiver who has lived this journey with the children she loves many times. Luo Mama has worked in ICC’s Heng Yang project since 2009. From the beginning Luo Mama was placed in the infant and toddlers section of the centre, and there cared for some of our youngest children.

Since her arrival, Luo Mama has cared for around 20 children that are now adopted to their forever families, mostly in the USA. Luo Mama bonds to each and every child and misses them deeply when they leave her. She says, “It breaks my heart when they leave, but I know it is best for their future, I know that they will have their own mummy, daddy, brothers and sisters, and that is best for them, so I am also happy.”



Luo Mama often tells people about a special boy that she loved called Long Li. Li Li has Down syndrome and she cared for him from when he was an infant until he was adopted at the age of three in 2015. Asked why he was her special boy, she says that he had Down syndrome and a heart defect, and he needed a lot of care, so she invested a lot in him, and so she grew such love for him through that time and investment.

Luo Mama talks about Li Li a lot, and often asks if there is news from his family. She hopes that she will see him again one day.

Luo Mama is about as maternal as any lady can be, she loves the kids like her own flesh and blood and we see this every day. Every time a child leaves to be adopted we comfort her as she cries and cries.

Luo Mama also takes pride in her children’s progress and achievements. She will often call us into the children’s home as we walk past to show us one of the children’s new skills, like walking, or feeding themselves. When she talks about them there is so much pride in her voice.



Luo Mama advocates for her children to receive all that they need. One day I saw her advocating to our education department for one of her children to start kindergarten class. She was saying, “She’s so smart, look what she can do, she needs to go to kindy too!”

Luo Mama plays with the children every day, she sits on the mat and plays games. She knows them all inside and out, their personalities, their traits, their likes and their dislikes. She loves them, and they love her.

Just last December a little guy under her care was adopted. Luo Mama cried as Tong Tong left her care for his new family. Tong Tong’s family posted a video recently on Facebook where he talks about the people in China that he loves and misses. Luo Mama is prominent in his thoughts, and gets the biggest mention. Tong’s little friend who was also adopted a few months earlier also talks to his family about Luo Mama.

I believe Luo Mama gave these precious boys a foundation of love that has enabled them to bond to their forever families.

Currently Luo Mama has a couple of babies in her care that she is crazy about. Jun Hong is a boy, and Li Lan a little girl. They both came into her care as infants with different special needs. These little ones will also be adopted in the future. She will have to say goodbye again, and it will be hard, but this Mummy knows her role, and that these children need her love, so she throws her heart into caring and committing to each one.



These little ones are thriving under her care, and we see them changing, developing and growing each and every day as she invests herself in them.

Luo Mama has a mother’s heart. She is a mother who welcomes children into her arms, invests in them intensely for just a few years and then says goodbye, over and over and over again.

She is a mother with great courage, with great love, and one of ICC’s heroes.

………..


Kyla Alexander is a Pediatric Nurse from Australia. Kyla has lived and worked as a self-funded Christian worker in China for over 16 years. Kyla has worked as the China Operations Director for International China Concern for the last six years, overseeing four local projects providing a range of services to over 350 infants, children and young adults with special needs. The projects Kyla oversees provide services for orphaned and abandoned children as well as families with children with special needs with the view of preventing abandonment.

Waiting to be Chosen: Libby

April 20, 2017 0 Comments

Libby (born January 2015) is a cheerful little girl who loves to play outside in the sun, and go to the supermarket. She laughs out loud when amused, and loves listening to music; she has learned how to twist the volume on the radio. She is currently listed with WACAP. In March 2016 she was …Read More

Advocacy: The Profound Ripple Effect

April 20, 2017 1 Comments

“Why are we here?” It is a question many people ask themselves through their life journey. Answers come in many forms through prayer, hope, and helping others.   But now imagine yourself as a person who was abandoned by his or her biological parents. How can you, and that child, find solace? You are reading …Read More

Love Stories: My Happily Ever After

April 19, 2017 1 Comments

We are so quick to fill in the blanks, aren’t we? We get one part of a story, and we use our imagination to complete the rest. But it’s too simplistic to do that with the care of orphaned children halfway around the world… to see an image and create a tragic narrative, hear a …Read More

From Death to Life

April 18, 2017 3 Comments

I glanced at the clock. It was 2:50. I felt my shoulders tighten involuntarily and a sick feeling start in my stomach. In 15 minutes, the most difficult part of my day would start: my daughter would walk through the door. It was the part of the day I dreaded the most. I wasn’t an …Read More

The Little Girl No One Believed In

April 17, 2017 2 Comments

I didn’t set out on this journey to become the parent of multiple children with special needs. It’s a funny thing, though, to see a dream evolve. As a young girl, I learned of the gender disparity in China and the preference for sons. In that moment, the seeds were planted in my heart and …Read More

Find My Family: Allen

April 16, 2017 0 Comments

Two-year-old Allen is a sweet little boy who has the best smile. His life hasn’t been easy from the start, though. He came into care of the orphanage as a newborn and was found to have what his file says is meningocele, but appears to be an encephalocele. You can learn more about that here. …Read More

Love Stories: Rewritten

April 16, 2017 1 Comments

We are so quick to fill in the blanks, aren’t we? We get one part of a story, and we use our imagination to complete the rest. But it’s too simplistic to do that with the care of orphaned children halfway around the world… to see an image and create a tragic narrative, hear a …Read More

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