Food and Adoption and Love

I am listening to Anne Heffron‘s book You Don’t Look Adopted on Audible. Anne is literally reading to me in my car while I drive the 30 minutes to and from work daily, and around Las Vegas as I live my life.

Today, in Chapter 9, Anne read a line from her book and my heart almost stopped right there in the left turn lane. I literally made the turn, and pulled over to cry.

When I was first brought to my parents by the nuns of Catholic Social Services, I was smaller than I should have been for my advanced age of 7 months. I could not eat from a spoon or drink from a bottle very well. Back in the 1960’s, babies of that age were started on solid foods. I did not eat solid foods yet. If I was that baby today, I might be diagnosed with “failure to thrive,” or in some of the clients I work with, “food insecurity.”

My mother tells me after my arrival, she first gave me a bath and then called the pediatrician to report my condition and her concerns. He told her to start me on “beef hearts and liver.” She did and I started to figure out how to eat and to drink and to gain weight.

Since that day, I have never forgotten how to eat and drink and to gain weight. You could say I am proficient at all of the above.

I still think I have failure to thrive at 54. I am always worried I will feel extreme hunger and snack or overeat throughout my day. Just this past Monday, I ate most of a package of Peppridge Farms Bourdeaux cookies. No shame, just the truth.

I recognize that my desire to eat comes from that primal place in me that was starving as a newborn. I know that I eat to feel full to the point of discomfort. Full discomfort is so much better than starving discomfort.

Food is a passion. If you are my Facebook friend, you know I LOVE to post pictures of food (Yes I am one of THOSE kind of people) and I love to find new places to try, foods to sample and to memorialize my foodie findings in photographs. I enjoy when someone makes mention of all the good food they see me posting. It feels like I am accepted and loved.

I worry about not having food. I over shop for food. We have a pantry, freezer, fridge full of food. I buy things that I am not even sure we will eat just to have food in the house. When I was raising my children, I kept a large stash of treats so that they always could have something they liked for a snack. Feeding them meant I loved them best.

Back to Chapter 9. As I heard Anne read about eating and food, she said:

“I was not hungry for food, I was hungry for love.

I lost my breath. Then the tears came. Then I pulled over. Then I texted Anne. Then I cried some more. Then I went home like nothing happened.

In 2018, I spent an 8 hour day with my first mother. She told me that she was hungry during her pregnancy with me because she was in a place where she did not have access to food or transportation to get food for herself and had to depend on someone to bring food. She was hungry, which meant, I was hungry.

When I was born, I only weighed 6 lbs. This could have been from poor prenatal nutrition or the fact that my first mother smoked every day she was pregnant with me. I don’t know, but both makes sense.

I have have thinking about my body a lot lately. I have been thinking about turning 54 recently and my cholesterol and my weigh and my desire to be more healthy, do more things, and have more adventures. My life feels half over and I want more, but not more weight to carry, or more cookies.

Now, don’t get me wrong, my body does do a lot of amazing things.

My body can: sword fight with pool noodles, swim, walk 16,000 steps at Disneyland, ride a bike, throw any kind of ball, walk in the grass, laugh, and lots more.

I know I want to make changes. I know that, like most struggles in my life, food and weight and worry are linked to being adopted. Food fills me in ways that my first mother never did or could or wanted to fill me. It seems unfair that food feels like love. Somewhere, I got confused. Maybe the confusion came when I did get a family, and that family FINALLY fed me the right way, and that felt like I was loved. I was full of food love.

Love also feels like love, so I want to be clear, I recognize people who love me and I love back. I am very loyal and fierce when I love someone. THIS kind of Love feels safe and full of trust.

I don’t know what the next year of my life holds, but what I do know is that I want to address my body and food and fear of not having food in a way that can create change for my life. I started seeing a somatic therapist, who, bonus, also happens to be an adoptee. I am hopeful that they can help me feel by body differently.

I want to feel better, even if I feel hunger. I want to not ache because of weight. I want to look better in jeans. I want to walk 91 miles on the Camino de Santiago with Pam Cordano, I want to feel comfortable in a swim suit in front of people I know, I want to fit better in all the rides at Disneyland, and most of all, I want food to feed me in a way that is not an obsession.

Most of all, I want to live a long life and sit on a porch with people I love and laugh, and not need to have a bowl of chips to make it more enjoyable.

This is my brain on food.

3 thoughts on “Food and Adoption and Love

Add yours

  1. Some of this definitely resonates with me as an adoptee, and as someone who often uses food as a coping mechanism.

    I’d like to encourage you to research “health at every size” and general body/fat positivity, especially when it comes to how you think about your body’s appearance. You list so many amazing, impressive things that your body can do! Our culture often equates thinness with health, which really isn’t true.

    Of course you should explore making changes that will help you feel better in your body, but I do hope that doesn’t mean you don’t think you can look good in jeans now (there are lots of ways to look good in jeans!) or that you can’t go swimming now and feel comfortable. I do believe (and science backs this up) that learning to accept and love our bodies as they are is tremendously helpful and also does help us make changes that we want to make (because it’s hard to make good changes if you’re beating yourself up).

    Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Janet for sharing your story. I can so relate to pretty much every word of what you shared! I have never heard anyone articulate what I experience in this way and it was spot on for me. I also am 54 (just turned a week ago) and am an adoptee. My birth mom was not willing to share any information with me about her pregnancy, my birth or the circumstances she was in at the time. I know I was in a foster home for about 2 1/2 months before being placed in my adoptive home. I do not have any information about that time of my life. I have always, for as long as I can remember, had issues with food. When I was preschool age, the pediatrician told my parents I was too small and needed to gain weight. So, they forced me to eat. Then when puberty hit around 14-16 that caught up with me and I have struggled with overeating and being overweight ever since. I can so relate to the feelings of comfort food provides and the connection with others over food. My mom shows love through offering food and never passes up an opportunity to feed us. My only “family” time with my father was around the dinner table. So much emotion around food. I am so interested in your body psychotherapy, but I’m not aware of any such therapist in Houston, TX where I live. I will look into it though…I am so thankful to have found your work and am so honored to have read your story and witnessed your courage and vulnerability in sharing it with us.
    Take care and I wish you the best in your journey ahead…Laura M


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