Today welcome Mandy Lee, from Real Food Recovery, I met her at the Weston Price conference last fall and knew I wanted her to share her beautiful story with you here…
Also, now she has a book out called Real Food Recovery!
Healing Kids with Real Food — How to Get Children Healthy, Fast and Naturally!
By accident we discovered how fast a child can heal from most illnesses. When we began fostering children, we really got a sense of the value of good, real food. When a child can't speak well or read, yet they can tell you the name of every fast food restaurant you pass… Well, we took that as a huge clue why each foster child is so sick. For us, every foster child came into our home with a nasty cough, antibiotics, allergies, gum disease, cancer, or a list of appointments.
It's no secret that children are pretty sick today. Ask any school teacher or read the many studies. There is a connection to behavior and gut health. (Read more here on healing the gut: GAPS Diet for Rookies.) One study, “The microbiome-gut-brain axis: from bowel to behavior”, outlines the connection of behavior-based issues as it directly correlated to the composition of the gut. (Source.)
Children Heal Fast
As Kelly the Kitchen Kop shares throughout her site, good food is important. And when you love children so much and then you choose to Foster-to-adopt, this takes on a whole new meaning. The stress these children have gone through, with only a Standard American Diet provided, we knew that the food we put on our table would have an impact. We just didn't realize how big of an impact. The benefit we have seen through Fostering and Adoption is Amazing, and when you simply provide real food, miracles happen!
Of the few children we have been privileged to foster and love, each one had a real sickness. A real behavior issue that was from minor to difficult. But the coolest part of this story is:
We helped Every. Single. Child!
In our case, we have been able to see lots of children heal. Many times a child would come in so off-balance that there was a temper tantrum every hour. Literally, there was a 2 year old child that could not talk, and after a few days he spoke quite well. A few children had serious diaper rashes that would disappear after a week. Difficult behavior, colds, coughs; the list goes on, but these symptoms vastly improve with a real food diet.
We even had to deal with cancer which was clearly the most difficult.
In between chemotherapy treatment the oncologists were amazed at his health improvement. This boy was our genesis for starting Real Food Recovery. We want to share and help others get their families healthy. Read more here about our story. We are very hopeful that we can connect more health-minded families to these sweet orphaned [Foster] children.
One thing is for certain; it will never get boring to watch children heal! And especially with these precious children who need a loving family and some good nourishing food.
Children, Orphans, and Hope
For us, we birthed 3. We fostered 7. And we adopted 1. And still, I pray to God that we can help many more.
I could tell you all the frustrating predicaments with fostering because there are plenty. But fostering is a reflection of life; there are always difficulties…that’s just a part of it and you persevere.
Set The Record Straight
The challenge is the misconceptions of fostering. My goal in sharing our story is to inspire you by giving you a bit of my heart. I want to encourage you to feed your children well. And I would really like to make you aware of a tremendous oversight: The need to foster and adopt children. We had to work through the system, so I know that you can too.
Regardless of the faults that exist with fostering, the goal…after all, is to help these innocent children. They are the ones that suffer and need a family.
Many times people tell me that they couldn’t bear to lose a child OR the system is broke, OR whatever the obstacle – all I think is, this is a child. And this child has nothing to do with the system. This child is simply a soul that wants to be loved and to love and needs someone to show them the way. (And frankly so do their biological parents!)
Today 1 in 2 children are facing a chronic illness according to the CDC and that includes these orphans. Even more so, I believe because they are missing a family. A wonderful family.
Our family truly seeks to live out Isaiah 1:17:
…Learn to do good! Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, defend orphans, plead for the widows.
We have discovered that life is not life without these efforts.
Helping Our Children
There are some incredible reasons why you should consider helping children. Whether you adopt, donate, or foster, there are some amazing children that can grow into terrific people if given the chance.
In the beginning, we tried to adopt, but got shifted because of our principals. (Here’s that story)
So as we shifted and began to foster, we discovered the challenges and misconceptions. “People do it for money”, “Why are YOU doing this?”, “This system is so corrupt”, etc… We overlook these challenges, because despite the errors in the system, children were at the heart of it. The goal…after all, is to help these innocent children. They are the ones that suffer and need a family.
There are about 500,000 children caught up in the Foster system in the United States. Globally there are conservatively over 10M orphans. In the U.S., approximately 50,000 “age-out” every year and that means that they are NOT adopted. They have no support – family – to help them. These are a new generation of 18 year olds.
I can remember starting college and when things got difficult, I could call my family. When I mismanaged my time or my finances, I had a Dad and Mom to help, I was very blessed, so it pains me to think of a child without that family support.
In most states, college is free for a foster child, even when these children are adopted. What a gift! Unfortunately, very few take this. In fact, within a couple of years:
- 1 in 4 will be incarcerated within two years of leaving foster care,
- 1 in 5 will become homeless,
- Only half will graduate from high school, and
- Less than 3% receive college degrees even though it is free.
(Source: The Pew Charitable Trust 2008. I have contacted Pew and this is the latest information they have researched.)
Our Children, The Real Deal
Our family took in several children and gave it our all. We had a 2 year old boy, 3 year old and 18 month old half sisters. We had a 9- month old girl and a few 1 year old girls. Each child is so special! Each child has issues to work through but it is so do-able. With each child we fell in love.
Our very first little boy was 2. He was so quiet and the state employees brought him to our home and said he couldn’t talk. He screamed as I bathed him before bed. I cried, not having a clue as to why a child would scream in such a relaxing bath time ritual.
We just loved him through it and slowly, patiently taught him how to eat healthy and enjoy a bath. He spoke and called me Mommy the 2nd day he was in our home. Goodness. In 2 months he was well-behaved and we had a blast! However, I found a lump in his abdomen and we discovered cancer.
Thus began the hardest experience we have faced. Fostering And cancer.
It was an unprecedented case. There were so many unknowns that our family had to plow through this without much help from the state. They were bogged in paperwork. We had no choice as to the treatment. So even though we had less than a 5% chance of survival we still had to use the “widely accepted approach” which is chemotherapy.
It still amazes me how incredible blessings always come with difficulties.
What a journey! I have a book that shares bits and more importantly “How Our Family Survived” (my ebook: 10 Ways to Holistically Manage Childhood Cancer) so that we could encourage more people to get involved and know what to do with sick children. We learn the value of medical freedom to choose your method of treatment. We learn the importance of choosing happiness and helping others. We are put in crazy places because of our unique situation, and we believe that it is so we can encourage others.
Of the few children we have been privileged to foster and love, each one improved.
So our success in loving and helping these children is rooted in changing the diet first.
With a little respect, love, and real food (like Nourishing Traditions!), improvements occur in just a couple of weeks. We see major improvements within months. We let our case manager and guardian ad litem (appointed through the state) know that we are really trying to get them healthy, and they would get so excited observing the progress of our children! It is the exact same excitement when anyone changes to a real food diet as a family, everyone gets a little less grumpy. Ha! And everyone gets some rosy color in the cheeks and fills in or thins out in the right places!
Here are some fantastic sites that we use.
Find your local groups to either donate, volunteer, and if interested foster-to-adopt: Go for it!
- Adopt Us Kids foster, adopt
- Adoption Council of Canada – foster, adopt
- Christian Alliance for Orphans – funds, agencies, more for many countries
- Jewish Family and Children Services – linked San Francisco, California area; you can search your area
- Royal Family Kids – donate, volunteer
- There is a 10 week class that your State uses to license you to help children. It is educational and enlightening. With a few safety improvements to your home, and validations that you are not a criminal, you can begin helping children in 3 months. My biggest tip: Make everyone in the system your friend. They have a heart to help, so make a tea party out of the visits.
Set The Record Straight
My goal in sharing our story is to inspire you by giving you a bit of my heart. I want to encourage you to feed your children well. And I would really like to make you aware of a tremendous oversight. The need to foster and adopt children. We had to work through the system, so I know that you can.
In our case, we are able to see lots of children heal.
Many times a child would come in so off-balance that temper tantrums were wild and frequent. When implementing nourished foods, every child would improve quickly; no more diaper rashes, difficult behavior, coughs, colds, gum disease or ADD.
And the greatest gift in helping these children is not the love or good that we bring them,
It is the love they show us!
Consider helping out some children. Foster, adopt, donate, engage.
More you might like:
- Don't forget to get Mandy's book here.
- Read about healing the gut: GAPS Diet for Rookies
- How we were led to homeschool our kids (crazy, I know!)
- Have you ever fed 5 kids a healthy breakfast in 5 minutes? Read how I did it after a sleepover one day.
- Teaching middle schoolers about Real Food – I loved giving this talk!
- Sally Fallon Interview on Healthy Kids & Healthy Fats
- Click here for more posts like the above ones on parenting.
Mandy Lee writes at Real Food Recovery. Her hope is to inspire health for you and your family. Mandy is an NTP, wife and mommy who has birthed, fostered and adopted wonderful children. She wants to empower you to eat well, live fully and give…because everyone deserves the right to Be Healthy and Belong!