“While many eating issues require vigilance, our transition got better once we as parents relaxed a bit and let our daughter determine how much she would or would not eat at any given time. It was our job to make sure she had access to healthy food on a regular basis and we strongly encouraged her to eat. But the amount she ate was ultimately up to her. Taking away the tension at meal times (caused by us trying to “force” her to always eat more) helped us all.” -Sara, mom to Zoe adopted from Kazakhstan
Our society encourages parents to set a nurturing feeding environment and provide healthy foods, allowing children to decide if they want to eat and how much to eat. This concept is the backbone to establishing a healthy feeding relationship between biological parents and children from the same culture.
“Let your child play with food (children in the babyhouse do not have an opportunity to do this).” -Nanette, mom of Adam adopted from Kazakhstan
But it may not be entirely appropriate for the adoptive family. While it’s the role of the parents to set a nurturing feeding environment, during the adoption transition you may need to sacrifice your desire to serve only foods that are perceived as healthy. Given the trauma your child is going through in adjusting to her new family, that’s perfectly acceptable. Regardless, children should still be able to decide if they want to eat and how much to eat. It’s not acceptable to force feed, coerce, or coax a child to eat. It’s your job as the parent to find foods your child likes and if it’s a food you don’t approve of—let it go. In extreme situations, some children may refuse to eat anything and when this happens, you need to visit with a health care professional who has expertise in this area.
“Don’t push; keep trying things. Don’t panic. Try to be very, very solicitous so that the child comes to associate food with comfort (I don’t think my kids necessarily did). Forget manners; cover the dining room in plastic if necessary so you can all relax.” -adoptive parent