Whether your adopted child is from your local country or abroad, the first few weeks home promise to be challenging. More often, the older child will present with unique challenges as they likely have come from a foster home situation or orphanage.
The likelihood that the older adopted child has a disorder called Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is quite high at about 80% or greater. Food issues and the adopted child with RAD are quite common. It is almost as if they are trying to control the situation with food among other things. So what do you do? Assume that the child has RAD until proven otherwise. In either case, whether the child has RAD or not, when they are brought home, they are not bonded to the new parents and they need a period of transition. One of the major transition issues circles around food.RAD until proven otherwise. In either case, whether the child has RAD or not, when they are brought home, they are not bonded to the new parents and they need a period of transition. One of the major transition issues circles around food.
Top ways to avoid food issues in the adopted child are:
1)Watch what the child eats in their own country before arriving home. The child should be fed the identical food that was eaten in the foreign country. This is especially true if the child came from an orphanage and has any signs of malnutrition. (Signs of malnutrition can range from being small for the stated age to a protuberant abdomen with skinny arms and legs. A child that suffers malnutrition should not be given that much protein to begin with. High protein given to people not used to the protein load can damage their organs and make them ill. Local children often suffer from food issues also as they may have had a lack of food from neglect or feel that food is their comfort since the child has nothing else.)
2)Feed the child what they need. Adopted children are very cunning and learn the system quite quickly. These children become quite demanding very quickly, especially surrounding food. They may insist or even tantrum when not given a certain food item or flavor. This is quite common. Stand your ground and give the child what food they need and not what food they want. Food issues and the adopted child abound.
3) Feed the child a normal amount of food. Give the child no more than the equivalent of two of their fist size portions at a time. This is quite a bit of food for them.
4) Use subtle reminders to eat with flatware instead of from their hands. Some children from foreign orphanages have food habits that are quite disgusting. a. Some children will automatically regurgitate their food into their hand or mouth and re-eat it. The food issues and the adopted child in this instance probably come from the lack of food and satiety. The child never eats enough food to feel full and they desire additional food. Regurgitating the food gives them the added sensation of eating more food. Resist the urge to over-feed the child or punish them.
5) Another food issue and the adopted child is food hoarding. It is reasonable to at first have some hoarding of food for the child has had a lack of food in the past. Picking food from trash cans, picking food off of the floor and out of other people’s belongings is typical behavior from a food hoarder. The child may tell others that there is no food at home in order to get more special food.
Older adopted children often have food issues. Older can be stated as young as 6 months of age. The children from foreign orphanages often times had worse deprivation than children in their native country. This deprivation shows up in hoarding problems. The child may hoard food and other items. They have to be taught and retrained in the proper ways of eating and getting along with others. The earlier this training takes place, the better. When normal methods fail and the child continues to display aberrant behavior, a consultation with a neuropsychologist that specializes in adopted children is necessary.