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Hi Abrazo Forum Network -

I just started to research adoptive breastfeeding. I was wondering if anyone has done it and is willing to share their experience. I have read about taking hormones and herbs to help milk production but I am not sure of side-effects, etc. I would love to be able to breastfeed our future baby (Lord willing!).

We are just starting our home study and have yet to attend the Abrazo Orientation. I want to make sure I get a schedule together for how long to set aside before we could get our baby to prepare to breastfeed if that is possible.

Thanks for any help!

Jessica

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I don’t have any personal experience with it, but when I was in Guatemala, I became friends with another American who was there adopting her son, and she was able to do it to some extent. I remember she also had a tube she used to provide supplemental nutrition.

It’s something you’ll want to talk to the future expectant mother you eventually match with. I’ve read that some birth mothers are not at all comfortable with adoptive breastfeeding, feeling that it usurps one of the few things that only they can do for the baby.

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Welcome Jessia!

There is a whole thread (more probably than one) dedicated to this topic on the forum.

This is something that I thought about a great deal myself at one point in time. In the end we had no time to prepare ahead of time to breastfeed either of our boys. Between match and birth were about a week or two with each of our boys. A friend of mine has always made the argument in favor of a-mom's breastfeeding because birthmoms choose us to make the best decisions for the child involved that includes whether or not baby is breastfed. I totally agree with her. However, I would caution that as Erin mentioned the success for any woman who has not previously birthed/breastfed a baby is going to be limited. Meaning let's say a baby needs 3 oz of milk every three hours, and you are only producing one ounce. You then have double effort every three hours and maybe the tube thing as Erin mentioned. As my boys were little I still ached to have the breastfeeding experience but whenever I thought through the efforts involved vs. the benefit derived, and the fact that the boys food intake was ever increasing, the argument allows came up in favor of not breastfeeding. It also wasn't just me involved - this kind of effort would impact me, my stress level, my time, the boys and my husband. so then it's hard to argue that mom (and dad) being more stressed, more tired and having less time etc was best for baby. In the breastfeeding thread here on the forum there is a post at the end with positive notes about a-mom's breastfeeding but what the poster left out of her post is that she had previously birthed and breastfed two biological children before breastfeeding an adopted child. Even she only produced a small portion of the baby's total food supply.

Are there instances when it works, I bet there are, but small percentage. Both my formula fed babies have thrived even despite parker being 9 weeks premature.

I think also it's harder for men to bond with a child who is adopted than it is for women. I think bottle feeding helps the guys get there faster. If you attempt breast feeding, it will be such an uphill battle that you should not have dad do any feedings. Realistically you will need baby on boob every three or four hours day and night. Because that is what triggers your body to produce (and increase production) and what will train baby to suck.

For me in choosing to adopt, this ended up being one of those things I just had to let go of.

Edited by suziandben
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Here are a link to info already on the forum:

Breastfeeding Your Adopted Baby: The Adoptive Parent Perspective

It also provides comments from first moms on the forum.

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Welcome to the Abrazo family. If only you could see the look on my face with my husband said to me during our baby class, "Can't you just take some hormones & feed the baby?"

Turns out in our married couples ministry, there is a lactation nurse & just two weeks ago I asked her opinion. She stated that i could be done with proper planning. Now, I don't have a baby yet. I was actually matched 2 weeks after orientation & had about 9 wks prior to birth. The BP went into labor early & then changed her mind after birth. I say that to say I'm not sure of the "guaranteed" type of placement but given the nurse told me I'd need to prep with certain medications about 3 months out, how can I ever know when to start? We could get a mom who changes her mind again, or we could get a call less than 3 months out like last time or we could get a BOG (baby on ground). There's not any way to tell when your baby will come. I think that's something you'll have to decide on with your hubby & figure out how the time would work out. One thing I didn't ask was how long I could take the meds before my milk would express. She did mention that I could pump & freeze but that defeats the whole breastfeeding bonding thing.

Good luck with your quest. I will follow this strand to see what new stuff comes up!

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Hi Jessica,

Good luck at orientation. It is alot of helpful information and the ladies there are amazing. A weekend to remember. I do have a friend who is a lactation nurse. She informed me that I could breast feed. I really did look at her like she has 3 heads. One thing to keep in mind and I do not know your journey to get to Abrazo. I did 9 rounds of fertility treatments with alot of hormones and one thing that always sticks in my mind is that I did not feel well. It was hard on my body. My answer to my friend was that I will not stick one more hormone in my body it has had enough. On the other side she said women do it and they seem to enjoy it and yes it does not always work for everyone. I admire you for checking into this and think you should do the research of what this all entails. One thing I think of is I do not have to feel hormonal when we are blessed with our baby and that will be nice. Good luck and I hope it works out for you.

Danette :)

Hi Abrazo Forum Network -

I just started to research adoptive breastfeeding. I was wondering if anyone has done it and is willing to share their experience. I have read about taking hormones and herbs to help milk production but I am not sure of side-effects, etc. I would love to be able to breastfeed our future baby (Lord willing!).

We are just starting our home study and have yet to attend the Abrazo Orientation. I want to make sure I get a schedule together for how long to set aside before we could get our baby to prepare to breastfeed if that is possible.

Thanks for any help!

Jessica

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Wow, lots to consider. Thank you to everyone for your input and referring me to the previous forum comments. My husband and I need to discuss all this and try to determine the best way to proceed. I was just put in contact with another adoptive mom who never concieved and breastfed her adopted baby girl. I can post about her experience if anyone is interested after I meet with her.

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To learn more about how birthmothers feel about this topic, CLICK HERE.

For an adopting mother to essentially "wet nurse" or "cross-nurse" the baby she is in the process of adopting seems to be largely a matter of personal preference, and sometimes has more to do with an adopting parent's concerns about bonding than with infant nutritional needs. (Furthermore, most sources seem to consider the actual antibody/immune system benefits to a child not born to that mother to be rather negligible.)

This is certainly not something that Abrazo would permit our adopting parents to undertake at any point prior to placement, for perhaps-obvious reasons. (For a prospective mother to usurp a birthmother's feeding time with her new baby in the hospital in the interest of "adoptive breastfeeding from the start" is inappropriate, for example.)

Abrazo definitely encourages any families interested in this possibility to be sure they know how the parents of their intended child truly feel about the prospect, before making any such plans. It can be a very sensitive issue for birthfamilies, and that can add unnecessary strains in a process that is already oftentimes very stressful.

I find a lot of wisdom in the insight of Sierra, a mom-by-adoption, from the MOTHERING website:

In my public health days I wrote a grant for a program whose purpose it was to increase the rate of breastfeeding in teen moms. I've taught breastfeeding classes when I was active in a childbirth education network. I've helped women learn to breastfeed back when I worked in the maternity unit of a hospital. I've written lactivist letters to businesses that didn't support breastfeeding mothers. I've written to my legislators about the importance of laws that protect the breastfeeding relationship between mothers and babies.

I get it.

When we decided to foster adopt, I really wondered how I would handle the whole bottlefeeding thing. I was afraid that I would be ashamed to feed my child in public, that I would be uncomfortable doing something that would contribute to normalizing bottlefeeding for young women and future mothers.

But adoption is about what is best for children, and there are children out there who simply will not be breastfed. I believe those children deserve families who are committed to attachment and bonding .

So I swallowed my pride, played the part of the adult, and decided to lose the baggage.

I learned about bottlenursing. It's great. Look it up.

I learned about fish oil and other supplements that can help make up for at least some of the missing components of formula. Formula will never be as great as breastmilk, but that doesn't mean we can't give our children every other advantage possible.

I learned how to be creative in creating attachment and bonding opportunities with my children. And its a good thing I did because they each came with unique needs that called for creativity.

You can think all the things you want about the inferiority of formula and bottlefeeding, but if you are going to reason that this means you shouldn't foster-adopt, then don't even try to claim that what you are thinking of is the best interests of children. In any way, shape, or form. This is not about what is healthiest. Nope. Sorry. (If by "it's healthier" you mean: children who might have more ear infections, or are 8 IQ points lower than they'd otherwise be, or who get the flu a couple times as babies, or whatever, are not for you, then I suggest you take a look at doing something other than adopting a child.)

And one more reason to sort through this kind of baggage before you make your way into the experience of adoption: adoptive breastfeeding is *not* the same as breastfeeding a biological child. There are all kinds of really difficult complications that can arise, including having a grieving baby who can't tolerate body contact with you (I had one of those...so I know). There is a reasonable chance that despite your commitment, there will be other plans for the feeding of your future-child, and if you haven't processed some of your baggage here, you could damage both of you when things don't work the way you intend and your attachments to this notion of the only way to be a good mother to your child start to unravel.

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This defintely makes alot of sense. Clears things up for those who are interested in doing this.

Thank you for posting. I will say it again!!! Great information.

Danette

To learn more about how birthmothers feel about this topic, CLICK HERE.

For an adopting mother to essentially "wet nurse" or "cross-nurse" the baby she is in the process of adopting seems to be largely a matter of personal preference, and sometimes has more to do with an adopting parent's concerns about bonding than with infant nutritional needs. (Furthermore, most sources seem to consider the actual antibody/immune system benefits to a child not born to that mother to be rather negligible.)

This is certainly not something that Abrazo would permit our adopting parents to undertake at any point prior to placement, for perhaps-obvious reasons. (For a prospective mother to usurp a birthmother's feeding time with her new baby in the hospital in the interest of "adoptive breastfeeding from the start" is inappropriate, for example.)

Abrazo definitely encourages any families interested in this possibility to be sure they know how the parents of their intended child truly feel about the prospect, before making any such plans. It can be a very sensitive issue for birthfamilies, and that can add unnecessary strains in a process that is already oftentimes very stressful.

I find a lot of wisdom in the insight of Sierra, a mom-by-adoption, from the MOTHERING website:

In my public health days I wrote a grant for a program whose purpose it was to increase the rate of breastfeeding in teen moms. I've taught breastfeeding classes when I was active in a childbirth education network. I've helped women learn to breastfeed back when I worked in the maternity unit of a hospital. I've written lactivist letters to businesses that didn't support breastfeeding mothers. I've written to my legislators about the importance of laws that protect the breastfeeding relationship between mothers and babies.

I get it.

When we decided to foster adopt, I really wondered how I would handle the whole bottlefeeding thing. I was afraid that I would be ashamed to feed my child in public, that I would be uncomfortable doing something that would contribute to normalizing bottlefeeding for young women and future mothers.

But adoption is about what is best for children, and there are children out there who simply will not be breastfed. I believe those children deserve families who are committed to attachment and bonding .

So I swallowed my pride, played the part of the adult, and decided to lose the baggage.

I learned about bottlenursing. It's great. Look it up.

I learned about fish oil and other supplements that can help make up for at least some of the missing components of formula. Formula will never be as great as breastmilk, but that doesn't mean we can't give our children every other advantage possible.

I learned how to be creative in creating attachment and bonding opportunities with my children. And its a good thing I did because they each came with unique needs that called for creativity.

You can think all the things you want about the inferiority of formula and bottlefeeding, but if you are going to reason that this means you shouldn't foster-adopt, then don't even try to claim that what you are thinking of is the best interests of children. In any way, shape, or form. This is not about what is healthiest. Nope. Sorry. (If by "it's healthier" you mean: children who might have more ear infections, or are 8 IQ points lower than they'd otherwise be, or who get the flu a couple times as babies, or whatever, are not for you, then I suggest you take a look at doing something other than adopting a child.)

And one more reason to sort through this kind of baggage before you make your way into the experience of adoption: adoptive breastfeeding is *not* the same as breastfeeding a biological child. There are all kinds of really difficult complications that can arise, including having a grieving baby who can't tolerate body contact with you (I had one of those...so I know). There is a reasonable chance that despite your commitment, there will be other plans for the feeding of your future-child, and if you haven't processed some of your baggage here, you could damage both of you when things don't work the way you intend and your attachments to this notion of the only way to be a good mother to your child start to unravel.

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There's already a lot of information and opinions about this topic, but just thought I'd share having adopted fairly recently. Breast feeding our child after placement was not something we looked into or desired to do. Maybe that makes me terribly strange, but I was more than happy to bottle feed. I can truly say that I believe we have bonded with our child and that he is very healthy having been formula fed from birth. I will say that especially the first two weeks my husband also really enjoyed participating in the feeding (we did every other till he went back to work). No matter how the baby is fed, I felt it was an intimate and bonding time just meeting his needs by feeding him. We did not have the opportunity to meet our child's birth family and I would have certainly felt uncomfortable doing that without discussing it first with them. Also, one thing about adoption is that it is so unpredictable as far as timing, things possibly changing after the child's birth, early arrivals, short times from matching till placement, etc. I personally think the more flexible in their expectations the adoptive family is the better - due to so many circumstances outside of our control. I think it would be frustrating and maybe rob a family of joy if the focus was more on things like breast feeding preparation etc. than just being in the moment and going with the flow and soaking in every minute without a lot of distractions. That is totally just my opinion and I know everyone has different desires and needs, so what was right for us certainly is not right for everyone else. Just sharing from personal experience. I have been scolded by another adoptive mom for NOT breastfeeding (she thought I was shortchanging my son) but that does not change how I feel.

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I will add one thing. In line with what Hannah (?? rhsegura I think I am remembering your name correctly) is saying about bonding. While we did not breatfeed, we chose not to allow anyone but me, Ben or first parents to bottle feed either of our sons. We felt that it was precious bonding time. Especially with ben working out of town every week until collin was a year old - i felt it important that there be at least one way in which collin could differentiate that this (ben) was someone special not just a random person he saw every weekend. Yes there were instances when I had to get a sitter and they would bottle but very few. I think my family and friends thought gee he's bottle fed you don't need to do that let us take over entirely. My opinion was that just because he's bottle fed doesn't mean he should lose out on the mom or dad time.

I really enjoyed hearing a cousin tell me that when her son (5th biological child) refused to latch at something like 5 months she bottle fed him but did the same as we did - she kept bottle feeding to herself as their special time.

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If only you could see the look on my face with my husband said to me during our baby class, "Can't you just take some hormones & feed the baby?"

Turns out in our married couples ministry, there is a lactation nurse & just two weeks ago I asked her opinion. She stated that i could be done with proper planning. Now, I don't have a baby yet. I was actually matched 2 weeks after orientation & had about 9 wks prior to birth. The BP went into labor early & then changed her mind after birth. I say that to say I'm not sure of the "guaranteed" type of placement but given the nurse told me I'd need to prep with certain medications about 3 months out, how can I ever know when to start? We could get a mom who changes her mind again, or we could get a call less than 3 months out like last time or we could get a BOG (baby on ground). There's not any way to tell when your baby will come. I think that's something you'll have to decide on with your hubby & figure out how the time would work out. One thing I didn't ask was how long I could take the meds before my milk would express. She did mention that I could pump & freeze but that defeats the whole breastfeeding bonding thing.

Because, in the distant and unforeseeable future, someone might read this thread, and I may not be able to respond to them personally, I want to address Evelyn's concerns (who, by the way, seems to have the MOST enlightened husband EVER.)

The lack of ability to plan for an adoption is the cause of a vast deal of anxiety - how to arrange for your nursery, your parental leave, your travel plans are just a few that come to mind - but that does not stop you from adopting, and neither should it prevent you from nursing your child if that is something that you are interested in and motivated to do.

It is **ideal**, as with much of parenting, to have more time to plan, but it is not necessary. You CAN **easily** induce lactation with less than 6 weeks notice, and there is NO reason not to begin the protocol when a BOG is placed with you. In that BLESSED case, your child might only have donor milk (or formula) by supplemental nursing system during those first six weeks, but that is only a small fraction of their lives and shouldn't be an obstacle to an otherwise miraculous endeavor.

As for Evelyn's last point, (taking for granted the fact that frozen breastmilk is still vastly superior to formula) I believe her friend's point was that you could induce lactation and, if you started pumping BEFORE your child was placed with you, perhaps because of a disappointed placement, you could simply pump for the weeks/months until your child finds you - storing that breastmilk for the times when your little one needs more than you are producing, during a growth spurt perhaps. If many months passed between the disappointment and your placement, you could even choose to donate the milk to another mother who is in need. The months of pumping would not be in vain, of course, as you would have a full supply and be ready to nourish your child body, mind, and spirit.

Planning the timing of inducing lactation is stressful, no question about it, but it is truly of little consequence compared to the profound joy and deep satisfaction of settling your precious and long-awaited infant to your breast.

If such an experience appeals to you, I heartfully encourage you to find the information and support to make the attempt. It is out there if you seek it.

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I have posted on this briefly on the other link on the forum. I, too, am hoping to nurse. Since we have a homegrown miracle who was nursed, my plumbing has already been primed rolleyes.gif (so to speak) and I am hoping with a little help I will be able to do so again (and I am not planning on using the hormones to induce lactation). I appreciate reading everyone's responses, and I think it illustrates that regardless of the circumstances ("homegrown" or adoption) whether or not to breastfeed always generates a lot of discussion. I also appreciated reading Sierra's take, and it speaks to parenting being a dynamic process that requires compromises. I have friends who delivered and wanted to breastfeed for as long as possible but for various reasons were unable (for example the surgeon who returned to work after 6 weeks of maternity leave and could not leave 4-6 hour surgeries or stop teaching rounds to pump or another who despite her best efforts was unable to produce enough, especially after returning to work).

There are 2 points I would like specifically to speak to:

1. The benefits of mom's antibodies, while particularly concentrated in colostrum (the 1st 3-5 days of breast milk) actually do continue to benefit baby throughout the entire time baby is nursed--especially in the 1st year while the immune system is developing. And they do not have to come from the mother that delivered. The beauty (one of) breast milk is that the antibodies/immunoglobulins produced are in response to mom's (and therefore baby's) immediate environment. The ones that help most with the ears, nose, throat, and intestines enter baby before digestive enzymes start to break down the milk. While there are lines of thought that digestive enzymes destroy other antibodies before they make it out of the stomach, there's no definitive studies to support that theory and there are some to suggest that since baby's digestive system is so immature they make it into the system intact. Breast milk is not a static substance. What mom eats/ingests affects how the milk tastes (one friend had to give up garlic and onions while she nursed b/c her son wouldn't nurse well after such foods) and what is in it (for example--if mom drinks alcohol, there is a time after she drinks that the milk is most concentrated but once her body process the alcohol and it is gone from her system it is also gone from the milk). There are also substances in breast milk that help baby develop the healthy bacteria in the intestines to help protect against the "bad" bacteria.

2. By having stored milk in the freezer, when I went back to work and then also when our daughter stayed with my mother-in-law one night, she still had the food she was accustomed to.

As has been shared, everyone has to make their own choices. What works for one family may not work for another. And healthy children grow from either situation.

Andrea

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Relevant to absolutely nothing:

Breast Milk Ice Cream Coming to London

And here's a Second Serving for anyone who might be interested.

I scream, you scream, we all... (well, okay, maybe not all of us!) LOL

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Here's a brand-new, just-went-live compendium of resources from the most excellent Creating a Family site:

http://www.creatingafamily.org/adoption-resources/breastfeeding-the-adopted-child.html

In specific reply to Suzi's post above, I quote:

In a 1995 study of 240 adopted infants in which 80% were previously bottle-fed, 35% of the mothers had never given birth, and 23% had never previously breastfed found the following:

  • 75% of the babies were willing to nurse by the end of the first week of trying
  • More than 75% of mothers felt positive about their lactation experience.
  • 54% of infants required supplementation for the duration of nursing.
  • 25% of women who had never been pregnant before were able to eliminate supplements completely before weaning off the breast.

Mothers reported that the benefit of bonding was more important than milk production.

Dr. Lenore Goldfarb, our adoption and surrogacy breastfeeding expert, said on the Feb. 9, 2011 Creating a Family show that in a study of her patients following the Newman-Goldfarb protocol, 31% were able to produce all of their baby’s milk needs without supplementation.

Edited by Calix
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Man, I feel like we should call Oprah or The Talk to have this discussion live! Great info. Calix, believe me Ryan only THINKS he's enlightened. I think he had other reasons to have me lactate...

These are all good points. I especially appreciate how you pointed out if there is a failed placement, one could donate their milk to a bank. Didn't even cross my mind.

To Andrea's point about being on call & working, the fact that MIL could still feed Madeline what she was used to is such a good point.

Thanks for sharing all!

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Here's a brand-new, just-went-live compendium of resources from the most excellent Creating a Family site:

http://www.creatingafamily.org/adoption-resources/breastfeeding-the-adopted-child.html

In specific reply to Suzi's post above, I quote:

In a 1995 study of 240 adopted infants in which 80% were previously bottle-fed, 35% of the mothers had never given birth, and 23% had never previously breastfed found the following:

  • 75% of the babies were willing to nurse by the end of the first week of trying
  • More than 75% of mothers felt positive about their lactation experience.
  • 54% of infants required supplementation for the duration of nursing.
  • 25% of women who had never been pregnant before were able to eliminate supplements completely before weaning off the breast.

Mothers reported that the benefit of bonding was more important than milk production.

Dr. Lenore Goldfarb, our adoption and surrogacy breastfeeding expert, said on the Feb. 9, 2011 Creating a Family show that in a study of her patients following the Newman-Goldfarb protocol, 31% were able to produce all of their baby’s milk needs without supplementation.

Elizabeth,

I agree. As a medical professional, the results from breastfeeding non-biolical is negligible. It has to do with the mother baby immunity . Thanks for posting.

Beth

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  • 1 year later...

Bumping this up!

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