At SPOON Foundation, the nonprofit that I started with another adoptive mom, we decided to start compiling all the information we were learning about the nutrition of adoptees so that other parents could access it. It’s now all together on our Adoption Nutrition website, and although much of the information is specific to parents who have adopted (such as the printable list of tests to complete at the first doctor’s visit), much of the information is also pertinent to parents who have not adopted. I’ve even printed out our top tips (to share with families I work with whose biological kids are having feeding difficulties).
The site has suggestions for kids who have oral-motor difficulties, kids who are slow to gain weight and grow, tricks for sneaking in high-vitamin and mineral content food, and a place where parents can submit their ideas for making snacks and mealtimes more fun (my sister submitted the Star Wars dinner idea). And, of course, we’ve got recipes. Some of them, like the Russian blinis that were a big hit in my household, are scattered throughout the site. Most are compiled into a cookbook that can be downloaded for free.
One of the most popular parts of the site is the Nutrition Profile where parents share their stories about nutrition and their kids. Based on the variety of the stories, it’s clear to see that although each family is impacted in a different way by their kids’ early beginnings with malnutrition or institutional feeding practices, nutrition and adopted kids is an area that matters to parents. It’s also helpful for me to see that my kid is not alone. When Cindy and I started SPOON, we worried that we were tackling an issue that only mattered to us. I told and retold Bakha’s story, but now hers is not the only one.
Bakha is very proud to be part of a movement that brings awareness to the nutritional needs of kids around the globe. Recently, after a hard day of school, an emotional conversation ended with a statement along the lines of “I know I’m important to you, but I don’t matter in the world.” I explained the butterfly effect to her and told her how her willingness to share her story is helping kids get healthy on the other side of the world (and even right here in the U.S.). She didn’t believe me, so I pulled out the laptop and showed her the map on Google Analytics that shows all the countries in which people have accessed our websites. She didn’t say much, but just yesterday she told me that her third grade teacher described the book “Three Cups of Tea” to the class and then asked the kids how they make a difference in the world. Bakha told me with clear disappointment that she didn’t get called on to answer the question. “What would you have said?” I asked. “That I matter because kids in the world are getting help because I told my story about what it was like to have my bones hurt when I didn’t get good food.”