Monday, April 23, 2012


This blog post is about my sweet baby girl Sydney who we adopted from Russia. She has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and ADHD. 

I have become accustomed to finding very strange things hidden under Sydney’s pillow when I straighten her bed each morning. This is her favorite hiding place, although she has others. She “collects” things and it does not matter to her if it is dirty or clean or if it belongs to her or not. Since Kindergarten, one of her favorite collectibles is mulch from the school playground. It is made from old tires so it is rubbery and fun for her to twist and squeeze. Sydney comes home with her pockets full when she can. A staff member is helping me by checking her pockets but she is creative and finds new ways to sneak it home. I find mulch in the washer and dryer and all over the house. It has clogged my vacuum before and I even have some in my purse and my own coat pocket. 

I often find coins, sticks, food wrappers, puzzle pieces, feathers, small toys and old food hidden under Sydney’s pillow. This morning, it was a hand full of candy wrappers, a video game player with her brother’s game loaded in it, one of her sister’s games (one she is not allowed to borrow), and her own toy i-pad. I talked to Sydney about the games and getting permission to play them. Then I put the games away and sent her to throw away all the wrappers. No amount of talk or intervention has deterred Sydney’s kleptomania in any way so I am just living with it at this point. I am unsure if it is part of her anxiety disorder diagnosis and some kind of obsessive/compulsive need or not. I know that experiencing hunger results in hoarding in many adopted children. Sydney was neglected and often hungry as an infant; although, I am not sure how much of that sticks with a person if it was experienced so young. 

In Russia at 10.5 months
When we picked Sydney up from that orphanage in Russia, all those years ago, I was able to talk to the caregivers through an interpreter. I had formula and a diaper bag with me. I showed them a four ounce bottle, an eight ounce bottle, and a couple of different nipples. I was asking what type of bottle and nipple Sydney was used to using. I have six biological children and know enough about babies to know what a difference those things can make. They told me she was used to being fed four times a day and I should fill the larger bottle to the top, giving her eight ounces at a time.  Sydney was almost one year old but only sixteen pounds. I knew from the medical history we had seen on her that she spit up constantly and they were calling it reflux. I was very surprised that a baby with such a small stomach and diagnosed with reflux was being given eight ounces in one feeding. I also didn’t think a baby so young should be fed only four times a day, especially if she spit much of her food up. That day, I started four ounce feedings every three hours and I never saw any reflux problems. Those first few days were heart wrenching for me, knowing all the formula she had spit up that first year because she had been over fed, and imagining how hungry she was until the next feeding so many hours later. When I showed Sydney a bottle she would begin to hum. She never cried at first, only hummed. She would drink like she was starving and then whine when the bottle was empty and fall asleep. Sydney held on to her bottles with a death grip. I tried giving her Cheerios and other foods most one year old babies like. She would not let me put anything in her mouth except the bottle and if I managed to get it past her lips it shot right back out. It took weeks before Sydney would eat a cracker or a Cheerio. Once Sydney started eating solid food though, there was nothing she wouldn’t eat and no new food she would not try. Sydney’s favorite foods now are so different than most kids. She loves pickled beets, okra, broccoli (raw or cooked), cooked carrots and vegetable soup. She’d rather have a can of green beans than a cookie for a snack. Because her doctor is always worried about her weight, she actually suggested to me that we let Sydney have vegetables only AFTER she eats a donut or a piece of cake for a snack. We have been known to put a donut in front of her and a bowl of vegetables out of her reach so she gets the calories before the preferred food. It feels so wrong. Backward. This is one of the reasons it surprises me to find Sydney hoarding candy and food. She has access to a variety of foods throughout her day and she is almost never denied candy or anything else at home. Sydney’s IEP even allows her access to frequent snacks at school. I have a box of things available for her to snack on in her classroom: crackers, nuts, cookies and fruit. The fruit and nuts go faster than the cookies every time.  
Always eating but rarely gaining weight

Irony surrounds me. Sydney eats constantly and is under weight, while Tate is extremely finicky and towers over his classmates and teachers. If I could only mix the two kids, I would come up with average weights and typical diets for both.

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