Guest post by Virginia Miner
A little over six months ago, my husband stepped off an airplane with our brand new daughter, whom we adopted from what was one of the worst orphanages in the EU.
Ana was nearly 13 years old and weighed 24 pounds, not due to her birth diagnosis of cerebral palsy, but rather to the neglect and abuse she had suffered for over a decade. She has a variety of special needs.
Ana has been with us for 6 months, but we started the adoption process 25 months before she entered our home.
I had lots of time to think about how to care for her, and how that would fit with my very strong preference for natural food, body care, and health care.
Some stuff has been easy. Because I don’t use random chemical cleaners, she doesn’t have exposure to such things in our home. I don’t use care products with fake fragrances, but use things like my Shea butter lotion and essential oils.
Ana gets comfy magnesium baths to help her calm down at night, and if she is ill, I always use natural remedies rather than anything over-the-counter. It is especially important to me to avoid OTC stuff because of her low body weight and unknown medical history.
Those things are the low hanging fruit; the lifestyle habits that are easy to extend to another family member.
Food, on the other hand, has caused many more struggles. Way back before Ana was in our home, I thought to myself, “What she really needs is the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome, described by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride) diet.”
I still think that’s true, but ideals aren’t always achievable.
At first Ana would only eat sweet things; fruit pouches, vanilla Pediasure, baby food… All the things that make my foodie heart cringe. She is not able to drink unthickened liquids due to low muscle tone in her mouth, and she is unable to spoon feed herself, so finding ways for her to get adequate nutrition and hydration was nerve-wracking.
Her gastroenterologist was all about Pediasure (oh, the horrors!) so I decided to figure out if I could clone its good properties. That was when we discovered sweet potatoes.
Ana loved sweet potatoes and I doctored them with coconut oil, collagen powder, bone broth, and other meat and veggies. If it was all blended up in the blender she would happily eat it without complaint. For about three months she was on the sweet potato diet and over that period she gained 10 lbs, going from weighing as much as my 1-year-old son to weighing as much as my 3-year-old son. My natural foodie mama heart was so proud.
And then Ana quit eating. She lost weight, gagged on anything in her mouth, and we had a nasogastric feeding tube placed to keep her alive while we figure out what’s going on with her eating. And what did they recommend that we pump through her tube three times a day? Pediasure.
Oh, how I have struggled.
What was going on? I was giving her good nutrition- why did that have to stop?
I think God is trying to teach me what’s really important, and it’s not actually food. Real food is great, but it has no moral value.
Pouring Pediasure into Ana’s feeding pump is not a sin. She is in a family, not alone in a crib. She is fed and hydrated, not just barely kept alive.
My job is to trust God with Ana (and my little boys) and not rely on my natural foodie skills to get us through every bump.
Truly, God is in control and I am not, and that is a very good thing.
Have circumstances ever forced you to compromise things you thought were so important? How did you respond?
Virginia is a child of God, a wife to her high school sweetheart, and a mother to three children. A musician by training, she now spends her time preparing delicious food, trying to get her children to eat said delicious food, and then scrubbing the same delicious food off the floor and washing it out of garments. She is in the process of improving her backyard garden so that the food she makes can be even more delicious. In her spare time (haha) she loves reading, playing with her cute kids, and hanging out with her awesome husband. Connect with her on her blog.
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