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November 30, 2008

Recipe for a Snow Day

West Michigan is under a winter storm warning and we took Josie outside for her first sledding and snowman building experience.

Here's Emma's famous recipe for a snow day/school cancellation:

Step 1: Wear your pajamas inside out
Step 2: Flush 3 ice cubes down the toilet
Step 3: Place a spoon under your pillow
Step 4: Pray like crazy
Step 5: Do a snow dance (moves of your own choice and rhythmic style)

Enjoy the short video of Josie sledding with Emma.

Late Monday night, I'll be posting the next Christmas craft project. This next project requires a bottle of bleach, rubber gloves, glue, glitter, green bottle brush trees and beads. It's really cute and alittle bit messy.

November 28, 2008

Holiday Craft Series Project 1

I grew up with a mother, grandmother, and several aunts who loved to do crafts and collect vintage Christmas ornaments.

The crafting and antique sleuthing experience is not quite the same with the toddler, but I'm not shelving my favorite leisure activities. Emma enjoys crafting and exploring antique stores with me and I've learned to save some of my craft projects for when Josie is napping or after she's in bed at night. Want to see what Emma and I have been up to lately?

The first project is a button Christmas tree. It requires a white Styrofoam cone, straight pins, seed beads, an assortment of buttons, and a little bit of patience. I managed to finish my tree in about 90 minutes. All the supplies can be found at most craft stores. I bought my buttons in bulk and for those of you that live in West Michigan, I got all my supplies at Meijer (I didn't even have to make a run to Michael's or Hobby Lobby).

I divided out all the buttons, beads and pins into several bowls for easy reaching.

Thread a bead first on the straight pin and then thread the button onto the pin. The bead will keep the button from pushing off the pin. Push the pin into the Styrofoam cone and continue covering the entire cone, overlapping buttons throughout. Make sure to fill in some of the empty spaces with just pins and beads. I also had to use a hot glue gun when I was finished to attach my fancy buttons on the top and secure a few of the thicker buttons where the pin didn't seem long enough. I think it turned our really well and it gave Emma and I some quality bonding time.

Until Josie's hand surgery on 12/18, I want to do a weekly series featuring holiday craft projects. I've got a zillion craft projects started and can't wait to share them with others. With the rate I've been going lately, I might even be able to share at least two new craft projects a week. What special holiday craft projects do you have underway at your household?

Barb and Buffi, I know you have some lovely advent trees that you've hand-designed and I can't wait to see pictures on your blogs. I'd love to hear from other folks too. If you try your hand at this button tree, let me know how it turns out. Be sure to check back often for new holiday craft project ideas. Happy crafting!

November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Back-up Plans

We never made it to Detroit. Here's a hint why...

Earlier in the week, Emma came down with the stomach flu. She was miserable. Luckily it only lasted 36 hours. This morning, Chris woke up feeling less than ideal. Our car was packed and he was determined we were driving to Detroit to be with family. We made two attempts to get out of the city before he finally gave into his sickness.

My dear sweet husband has spent the day in the bedroom (or the bathroom) while us girls' had our own little Thanksgiving feast. I love the fact that our Meijer store is open today. I was able to pick up all the ingredients (minus a turkey).

Despite the less-than-ideal holiday, I feel so blessed to have my two girls with me.

Beginning Saturday, I'm starting something new on my blog. Be sure to check back. I can't wait to unveil a new look and my new series.

November 26, 2008

"Xie xie" Thank You

"Xie xie ni" (pronounced: Sheay-sheay)
This is the way to say "thank you" in Mandarin-Chinese.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I would like to say "xie xie" for the following:

Xie xie to China for allowing us the privilege of adopting their children.

Xie xie to Josie's birth-parents that choose life for their child.

Xie xie to our guides (Anli and Lifeng) who took amazing care of us while we were in China.

Xie xie to the team at Mott Children's Hospital that assisted in making Josie's open-heart surgery a complete success.

Xie xie to our community of friends and family that continue to pray for our family and Josie's next surgery.

Xie Xie to our employers that support and encourage us to take care of our family and provide such wonderful health insurance.

Xie Xie to my family that continues to amaze and bless me each day.

Xie Xie to all my adoptive friendships I have made over this past year as we completed our adoption journey.

Blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving holiday.

November 23, 2008

Final Reflections and & Top 10 List

I asked my husband for some reflections on our adoptive experience. This piece is written from his perspective and I love it. Thanks, Chris!!

The world looks funny when you’re upside down. Things you took for granted abandon you. How you thought the world works, shifts. What you noticed with firmly planted feet feels unpredictable and new. Adoption has had that effect on us. In some ways, the change has been subtle, like the slow erosion of healthy predictable sleep.

Sleep has been perhaps the biggest barometer of how things are going in the Kenward household. When Josie ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Early on, Emma decided she would sleep downstairs in her lavishly appointed tween bedroom.

Well, that fantasy quickly faded when she realized little sister might gain extra air time via nighttime crying fits and the like (and the fact she believes we have ghosts living in our finished basement). So, with sibling jealousy riding high, she abandoned a good night’s sleep, opting rather for fair and equal Mom & Dad time, despite the likely reality of screams and crying interrupting every night’s dreams. But for every struggle at bedtime, some treasures remain. I have become fairly adept at getting quite cozy with a comforter and pillow snuggled close to Josie’s bed. Like her sister before her, I listen for the sure sounds of sleep overtaking her, her body slowing down, the deep, protracted breaths, and the gentle twitches her body makes as it settles for the night. Some things never get old.

In this vain, I have compiled a top 10 list of how we've changed since adopting a toddler:

10. Kim has cut back on checking her work email from home. Thank goodness for her personal gmail account! Her overdrive work tendencies are much more under control.

9. Our cupboards are fully stocked with more food than we've ever had in our 17 years of marriage. Who would have thought a 25 pound child would ask for seconds, thirds and fourths during most meals!!

8. Kim and I can tolerate more mayhem, whining, fussing, crying, and fairness issues than we ever thought possible.

7. Attending Church now looks like a combination of WWF wrestling and an episode of Jerry Springer.

6. Car rides can be peaceful or a horrendous torture for the two people in the frontseat. I still contend if the BIG 3 need some help getting out of their financial crises, they need to invent an invisible shield (like a cab’s protective glass) which creates complete silence from all the chaos in the rear seats.

5. Diapers and baby wipes have replaced fine bottles of wine on our grocery list.

4. Our washing machine and dishwasher have never been used this much!

3. The Holidays are magical all over again.

2. Everything takes more time. There is no such thing as a quick errand with a toddler in tow.

1. Feeling far more blessed than I ever expected because of our adoption experience. At the end of an exhausting work day, when I look across the table and see that that we are FINALLY a family of four, makes all the stress and frustration worth every part of that horrendous adoption timeline.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my family and friends. Last year at this time, I was feeling so heart-sick in the anticipation of our travel timeline to China. What a difference 9 months can make. I can't wait to share this upcoming holiday with my two girls.

This year, we'll be traveling across the state to visit the Kenward clan. Get ready family...Josie's on her way and she's expecting lots of "nummies" on her highchair tray. I'd love to hear from my readers what special traditions or celebrations you have in store this week. It's been fun reflecting on our adoption experiences over this past month. I've enjoyed all your insights and personal experiences. Blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving holiday.

November 20, 2008

Shopping in China - MUST HAVE items

I'm on a roll with "must have" reflection posts. As much as I was anxious for Josie, I was equally excited to do some serious shopping while in China. I loathed the bartering, but Chris was the master of negotiations and we came home with some really lovely acquisitions. I should mention, that we never made it to the alley with the knock-off purses, sunglasses or designer clothes, but I'm so pleased with the special items that we did bring home from Josie's country.

Here are a few of my favorite purchases in China:

Nanchang is know for its porcelain and I just love this hand-painted tea set. Both Emma and Josie also picked out smaller tea sets as well as several vases and hinged boxes. The prices were a steal (my large tea set was around $35). If we would have had more room, I would have bought more tea sets for relatives and friends. The hinged boxes and vases ranged between $3 - $7. These same items were so much more money in Guangzhou.

Chris's chess set

Chris purchased two different chess sets while in China. One set he has at his school and one set is at home. They are made of ox bone and the carving on each piece is simply amazing. The price was an absolute steal. He paid $26 for his larger set. If it wasn't so big and heavy, he would have bought additional sets for friends. Chris bought his chess sets in Guangzhou.

Several stores in Guangzhou offer a service of doing reverse painting inside glass bottles. You can drop off a picture and then within 24 hours, you can pick up your painted bottle with the image painted inside. The only picture we had already developed of Josie was her identification card from her orphanage. Her bottle doesn't really reflect what she looked like at the time, but it's priceless. Emma's picture is very close to the school picture that we had in our wallets. We were so pleased with these purchases. They are such keepsakes.

I remember seeing my friend Steffie's daughter wearing a tiger hat while they were in China and I was on a mission to find one for Josie. The tiger hat is a traditional baby gift in China. The tiger is believed to protect the child from bad spirits and bring good luck. Our guide later told us that typically only boys wear these type of hats. Oh well. We thought she looked pretty darn cute in it.

I bought the girls several matching outfits in China and even bought Josie's baptismal dress. I'm so glad I bought several different sizes so that Josie can continue to wear them through the upcoming years. The prices are so low in Guangzhou for these type of outfits. The outfits cost around $5 or less. Some outfits were a bit pricier, but well worth it. While in Nanchang, our guide kept telling us to wait on purchasing shoes and outfits until we got to Guangzhou, and I'm glad we waited. She was right, the prices were half the cost as what we were looking at in Josie's province.

We bought the girls each big beautiful paper kites in Beijing. They weren't easy to pack in our luggage, but we never saw them in Nanchang or Guangzhou and I'm glad we bought them in Beijing. The kites cost about $5 and the detail work is amazing.

"A Gift From China", Guangzhou's First Charity Store has different items than most of the stores in Guangzhou. The items are a little more money, but better quality. One of my adoptive friends (thanks Cindy) told me about the dolls from this store and I couldn't resist buying each girl a set of mother/daughter dolls.

Our guide took us to the pearl market in Guangzhou to buy our pearls. I'd love to say our shopping experience was a lovely one, but Josie was an absolute terror while we were in the store. Chris ended up picking out all our jewelry (while I paced with her outside in her baby carrier). He did a wonderful job at negotiating and picking out several beautiful pieces. I can't say it, buy, BUY. The prices are so inexpensive and earrings make great gifts for friends and relatives.

For my readers who are about to travel to China, I'm sure they would LOVE to hear from other adoptive families regarding their favorite shopping adventures and China acquisitions. I can't wait to read your suggestions. It makes me want to go back and shop, shop, SHOP!! Thanks, friends!!

November 18, 2008

Must "have" Items while in China

I want to lighten up this Adoptive series with a fun post. To all my adoptive blogging friends, share a few of your "MUST HAVE" items that you brought with you to China. I'm not asking for your exhaustive packing lists, just a few absolutely essential items that you took with you.

For anyone that wants an exhaustive packing list, this link is great!!

Here are my top items:

1. Laptop, with webcam and skype account (we talked to our extended family members and Emma's 4th grade classroom several times a day via skype while in China. Skype was FREE and the video connection was amazing. It was a great way to introduce Josie to her extended family before she ever met them in person. We updated a website the entire time we traveled and our family and friends were addicted to our pictures and daily posts. I'm so glad we lugged a laptop, digital camera and web camera with us to China).

2. Peanut butter (Emma brought her jar of peanut butter with her to our buffet breakfasts every morning. We could always find bread and crackers, but we never saw Jiffy peanut butter in China and it was a quick snack and breakfast).

3. Stacking cups and baby carrier/sling (if you look at our Gotcha day video at the end of this blog, you'll see how those stacking cups broke the ice with Josie. We took those stacking cups with us everywhere in China...restaurants, the Civil Affairs Office, the Police Station..etc. Those stacking cups were a lifesaver. To this day, she still plays with them in the bathtub. The baby carrier/sling was ideal for bonding and it saved my arms/back while we were walking and touring China. I would have loved to have had Chris the opportunity to use it with Josie too, but it was the perfect way to cuddle with my daughter).

4. Travel compression bags (compression bags were amazing. We could fit so much more in our suitcases because of compression bags. We traveled in March when it still required winter coats. By the time we got to Guangzhou at the end of our trip, we didn't need those winter coats anymore and we could seal them up and stuff them in our suitcases.

5. Pants in various sizes for Josie (we did NOT do this and I wish we would have. She was much smaller than we thought and her size 12 month pants didn't stay up). Our guide took us to a local Walmart to find pants in a 9 month size but it's hard to find non-split pants in China).

NOW, it's your turn. I want you to list your top five "must have" items for China. I can't wait to read your posts and I know our readers who are getting ready for China will appreciate your valuable tips.

November 17, 2008

National Adoption Awareness Month part 8 (SN adoptions)

When we first started out in the adoption process, we didn’t start out pursuing a special needs adoption. Without repeating our story all over again (see this blog entry for background information), our journey to Josie was complicated and a little bit controversial. In this entry, I’d like to talk about our personal experience with a SN adoption and specifically a child with a severe heart condition and an extra thumb on her right hand.

Although we thought we understood Josie’s heart condition prior to our trip to China, it wasn’t until we had her in our arms did we really understand what her condition was all about. Josie has TOF (Tetralogy of Fallot). She had four things wrong with her heart and you can click here to find out more information on this condition. In most cases, surgery is done immediately on the infant to correct these problems. She was 21 months when we got her and her heart had not been treated at all. She would often turn blue and had severe shortness of breath when she did much exercising or eating. She was very small for her age (she was wearing size 9 month clothes at 21 months old) and physically she appeared much more like a 12 month old than a 21 month old. I had been in contact with another adoptive mother (thanks, Jeanne) whose son also has the same heart condition as Josie and she was wonderful in reassuring me that we could get through this.

We arrived home on a Wednesday night and by Tuesday of the following week; we were sitting in our cardiologist’s office making plans to have her referred across the state to the University of Michigan Mott's Children’s Hospital for heart surgery. During this period of time, Josie was still uncomfortable with anyone (including Chris) holding her, let alone examine her. You can only imagine the kinds of screaming episodes that went on during those appointments. Keep in mind, with her fragile heart, we were trying to keep her as calm as possible. During most of her required medical exams, she was a very angry little girl. She resembled a wild animal. It was heart breaking. We ended up having her sedated during most of the exams because she was so out of control. Poor Josie had no idea why we were subjecting her to so many strange people, strange equipment, and uncomfortable pokes.

Josie’s heart surgery took place on April 23, 2008 and was a complete success. I’m not going to sugar-coat our experience with Josie in the hospital, it was wicked. When she was out of ICU and awake, she was wild with fear. It broke my heart to see them have to restrain her arms, but it was necessary until all the equipment could be removed from her. She refused to sleep in her bed and so I would sit up all night in a chair with pillows propped under my arms holding her surrounded by medical equipment, beeping machines and staff checking on her vitals every 30 minutes. Her spicy personality was definitely showing through. She was supposed to have been in the hospital at minimum 10 – 12 days, but she came home in 5 days. I still have a whole new respect for the doctors and nurses who did everything they could to treat Josie and make her comfortable. They were an amazing group of people.

By the time we left the hospital, I looked like death warmed over. I was beyond sleep deprived. I wasn’t going to post this picture of myself, but I feel it paints a very real picture of what I was going through at the time.

On the first day that we came home, Josie was so happy to see her big sister and her house, that she spent the entire evening touching everything. It was almost as though she needed to be reassured that she was really home.

For the next month, we had visiting nurses descent upon our home on a weekly basis to check her vitals. She hated the visiting nurses, but it was better than making a zillion trips to our cardiologist’s office. We are now on a six month maintenance schedule with Josie’s local cardiologist. She’s no longer on any heart medications and her physical activity is no longer restricted. She’s gained six pounds and grown three inches since our March Gotcha date. She’s now wearing size 18 month clothes and I’m starting to think we can almost move into 24 month shirts. She no longer turns blue or pants when she’s eating or exercising. At some point, she may need a valve replacement, but the timeline is sketchy. We couldn’t be more pleased with her progress and diagnosis. She is truly not the same little girl that we received on March 16, 2008.

Our next big medical intervention is Josie’s upcoming hand surgery. Our special little girl was born with an extra thumb on her right hand and prior to her heart surgery, we did visit a hand specialist. Obviously, we were more worried about her heart than her hand. Now that her heart is stable, we’ve decided to move forward with her corrective hand surgery. She’ll be casted from finger tips to her shoulder for five weeks while her hand heals. Considering everything she’s gone through, I’m hopeful that she’ll adapt to her casted arm quickly. I’ll be curious to see whether this experience will make her more of a lefty than a righty. Right now she goes back and forth between both hands for eating, coloring and playing.

Chris and I were reflecting the other night about our experiences with a SN adoption. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s certainly not something we would have pursued if we didn’t have the full support of our entire families or each other. It’s emotionally, physically and financially draining. Don’t get me wrong…I had my moments of “what have we done!!!” but it’s been well worth it in the end.

I’m going to just throw it out there because I’m being honest in this post, if your child requires medical intervention and hospitalization, it’s extremely expensive and having good medical coverage is absolutely necessary with a SN adoption. Chris’s medical insurance is amazing. Josie’s medical bills have topped over $60,000 for just her heart surgery alone. We are so fortunate to have the medical insurance we have. If our insurance would not have covered Josie heart surgery, we would have had to deny her referral. I can’t imagine life without her now.

Many of my adoptive blogging friends have SN adoptions. Some of them have children whose medical needs were corrected before they received them. Others have children who are actively seeking medical treatment right now. I think most of them would agree that the addition of a child with special needs was one of the greatest experiences of their lives, but adding a child with special needs to your family requires realistic and objective decision making.

I have several readers who are just about to embark on their first SN adoption and they would love to hear any and all feedback. I’d love to hear from you on your own experiences (the good the bad and the ugly).

November 15, 2008

National Adoption Awareness Month Part 7 (attachment issues)

Gotcha day March 16, 2008

Prior to traveling to China, I read everything I could get my hands on in regards to attachment and bonding issues. I prayed that her transition would go smoothly and that she would bond with me. I had read over and over again how initially children bond first with one parent and I selfishly hoped I would be the one. I was lucky. Almost as soon as her nannies left our hotel room and I was left to scoop Josie up in arms, she bonded with me.

Josie's bottle was her security blanket

Sure, there were all kinds of tears, but Josie looked to me for reassurance and comfort. It was love at first sight and my fears were quickly shelved. She took much longer to bond with Chris.

Gotcha Night March 16, 2008. Notice how Josie is cautiously looking at Chris

In fact, Chris was never able to hold her while we were in China. With all the screaming and tears we had at night and during our many plane rides around the country, he was never able to provide her with any kind of comfort. He felt frustrated, but was patient and was prepared to ride it out.

One of the best things I could have brought with me to China (besides Chris and Emma) was the baby carrier. She was strapped to me in the carrier the entire trip. Talk about bonding.

Tengwang Pavilion, Nanchang China

Even after we came home from China and were off to visit the many cardiologists and specialists, if she was throwing an absolute fit, if I put her in the carrier, she calmed right down. She's now too big for her carrier, but it was a life-saver during our first 3 months together.

Josie also bonded with her sister almost immediately. To this day (as you tell by the many pictures I post in my blog) Josie is absolutely in love with her big sister. She adores Emma. Almost to the point of obsession. I couldn't have asked for it to go any better than it has between the two girls. I'm so glad Emma came with us to China. That being said, we definitely have JEALOUSY issues that are overwhelming at times. That will be a whole other blog entry someday.

Emma playing with Josie in Nanchang, China

When my family medical leave ended and I went back to work, Chris took over as primary caregiver during the day. Thankfully, Chris works at a school he was now home for the summer. Being the primary care giver changed the attachment relationship between Josie and Chris dramatically. She started to equally seek comfort between Chris and myself and looks to either of us for reassurance and assistance.

I can't tell you how much I melt all over when I hear Josie say "Mommy, I wuv you" or I hear her scream with delight with Chris comes home from running an errand. We are blessed, so very very blessed. This whole adoption experience has far exceeded anything I could have ever imagined. My heart is so full of love for this sweet girl.

March 17, 2008 Civil Affairs Office, Nanchang China

Along the bottom of this blog are a list of some of my favorite attachment websites. The constant researcher in me, can't stop reading or exploring this topic. If anyone has anything else that would like to share on this topic (websites, books or personal experiences), feel free to post. I love hearing from you.

November 13, 2008

National Adoption Awareness Month Part 6 (sleep issues)

My blogging support group knows that sleep has been a constant topic since we came home from China and I feel the need to put it out there AGAIN as I'm addressing adoption issues this month. Of all the things that I prepared for with this adoption, I never expected sleep to be such a huge problem. Prior to our adoption, we had close friends give us their crib and I was pleased to be able to pick out new crib bedding and get the special crib set up for our little girl. Honestly, the only night that Josie EVER slept in a crib was on her gotcha night March 16, 2008 in Nanchang, China. During the rest of our time in China, she slept with me in my bed and spent most of her nights thrashing and crying.

Picture taken in Nanchang, China. Notice Josie's blue skin color.

I assumed that her sleep issues in China would magically disappear once we came home. WRONG. She never EVER set foot in her crib. That beautiful lovely crib with the brand new bedding never ever got used. She screamed holy terror in her crib. I can't even describe the screaming that would go on in her crib. It was like nothing I had ever heard. It was horrifying. That crib was immediately dismantled and put in our basement. She took up immediate residence in my bed.

Prior to her heart surgery, she used to scream and thrash all night long. Chris used to refer to her as the clock. She would turn in my bed all night long like the hands of a clock. She literally slept for 20 minutes at a time and then would wake up screaming. I was exhausted, frustrated and unprepared for the sleep deprivation that came with our new daughter.

Josie slept with me from March until May because her night terrors were so bad. I kept praying that her heart surgery would fix the sleeping issues. It helped, but not like I had hoped for. Starting in June when I went back to work, we transitioned from my bed to a single mattress on the floor in her room. For nearly 3 months, Chris and I didn't sleep in the same room. We played musical beds between our master bedroom and and cosleeping with Josie on the mattress in her room.

It's now November and our bedtime routine still requires one of us (usually Chris) to lay down with her first, let her fall asleep, and then we sneak out when we think the coast is clear. It's not uncommon for Josie to be up at least 2, 3, 4 times a night crying. She still has night terrors but they aren't as bad as when were in China or before her heart surgery. Chris now holds the title of "baby whisperer" in our house. He can get her back to sleep during one of her episodes in 10-15 minutes. For me, it can take as long as an hour. I can't thank Chris enough for being such a hands-on Dad in the middle of the night. Both of us have never loved morning coffee as much as we do since Josie came into our lives.

I can't imagine what Josie's sleep issues must have looked like at the orphanage (probably lots of unanswered cries during the middle of the night). Having an untreated heart condition and laying flat must have felt pretty horrible. We love you, our sweet little girl. We just want you to sleep...yawn.

I'd love to know from my blogging friends, what are your experiences with your adopted child's sleep routines? Did you co-sleep? Did they experience night terrors? What techniques did you use to get them to stay sleeping?

November 12, 2008

National Adoption Awareness Month Part 5 (food issues)

Josie has always had an interesting relationship with food. When she first came home from China, she used to store food in her cheeks and it wasn’t uncommon to see her chewing this same food hours later. We’d constantly remind her during meal time to swallow her food (her cheeks would get so full she’d look like a chipmunk) and that she would get more food. While in China, her diet mostly consisted of a bottle and congee but she was quick to start eating our food selections. We were told that she was a slow eater at the orphanage. I'm not exactly sure what they meant by that statement. My mind tends to wander and I have visions of her food being taken away from her because she didn't finish it fast enough.

(Josie is in the blue coat)

When she started speaking English, she would thank us every time she was given any kind of food or drink. Nearly nine months later, she still thanks anyone who gives her food or liquids. It's bittersweet to hear her thank us at every meal for her basic nourishment.

Lately, her appetite is through the roof. It’s almost to the point of binge eating. She’s always asking for “nummies”. If someone else has food, she’s starving, if there is a bowl of something, she'll see the need to eat it all...etc. She definitely out eats her big sister and on some occasions, her mother and father. While I’m cooking dinner, if she’s not distracted, she’s throwing an all out tantrum on the floor demanding food. Her food temper tantrums have gotten worse over the last few weeks and Chris and I are fairly certain we know why.

A few weeks ago, we completely stopped the bedtime bottle routine. While she's at daycare she drinks from a regular cup. When she's eating with us, we use a sippy cup. At bed, we did allow her bottle. It was the last of her familiar routines from China. Recently, she had gotten stomach flu and as you can imagine, a bottle and the stomach flu doesn't mix. It was an easy excuse to stop the bottle all together. She remembers throwing up and equates it with her bottle. She doesn't scream for her bottle anymore, but she does talk about it at bedtime and we'll occasionally see her sucking her baby doll's bottles when she's playing.

We’ve had to start being more aggressive in approach to dealing with her food obsession. We'll never deny her food, but we’re making sure we have plenty of healthy snacks available. With older children, it is easy to find out if they are truly hungry or are feeling some other emotion and calling it hunger. It feels a little more complex with a 2 year old. For those parents who are just getting started in their adoption journey, be prepared and realistic about your institutionalized child’s relationship with food. It's aggravating and it can be heart-breaking. In all my wonderful adoption books, most children outgrow their food issues, we just need to be patient and understanding. I'd love to know from my blogging friends, what are your experiences with your adopted child's relationship with food?