Nursing Our Adopted Daughter
by Linda White
Our two sons came to us through adoption after several months in foster care and I had to keep my dream of breastfeeding myself. I think I was looked upon as a bit out of touch with reality.
When our Liam was two, the adoption agency invited us to participate in the first direct placement of an infant in our area we were considered a very stable family and able to manage any challenges that this placement might present. As we made plans to add another child, I began to wonder if my breastfeeding wishes might come to pass. The local Lactation consultant who works for our local Sure Start programs was happy to help me prepare myself for this adventure(!) and together we learned about inducing a milk supply and using a supplementer.
When Charlotte came to us she was 4 days old & Chris was there to help her learn to latch on properly and to support my efforts to breastfeed this sweet baby. Those of you who are nursing know just how I felt when she took her first full feed from me. I had come full circle in my role as a mother.
The challenges we faced paled in comparison to the joy I felt. The legal issues, agency doubts and birth family fuss were difficult but manageable and after a time all settled. At the end of a hard day, Charlotte & I could come together and settle down to nurse away any trials.
Now I want to reach out and share the process and how much it means to me as a mother and us as a family. Hopefully, breastfeeding will become a simple parenting choice for others who adopt. Once all infants who were not raised by their birth mother ! had to be placed with a woman who was nursing. When animal milk was pasteurised and bottles sterilized, artificial feeding became safer and this was no longer necessary. Now some adoption workers feel very uncomfortable with the idea of breastfeeding an adopted infant and those of us who wish to do so should approach the idea with some caution.
As a parent you will be making choices every day and this one is yours to make as well. The basics for preparing are much the same as any nursing experience. Reading, talking to your breastfeeding friends and family members to get their support, purchasing well fit nursing bras and a supplementer, which supplies milk until you are producing your own, and understanding that the desire to breastfeed operates quite independently of your ability to produce a baby will set you on the road to a successful experience.
We adopting parents want what is best for our children too. More and more expert information comes our way about the many benefits of breastfeeding from antibody protection to strong bonds between mother and child. The World Health Organization recommends two years of nursing. Imagine what that can do to insure good mental health for our children as they face the realities of being adopted! While most adopting mothers will not produce a full compliment of milk for their infants and will need to use the supplementer for some time, all the ancillary benefits of the process are available to both mother and child.
Even a few ounces of human milk daily will help protect the infant from harmful pathogens and assist the digestive process. The natural love that grows between mother and babe is what it is all about.
I hope you will join me in sharing the message that adoptive breastfeeding is both possible and practical.
This article (C) Linda White 2001