9 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Breastfeeding My Adopted Child

breastfeedingPublished on Adoption.com 8/15/15

As an adoptive parent, I wanted to experience as many norms as a biological parent would. After hearing “breast is best” so many times, I wanted to give my son the best, too. I also had the added testimony of a healthy, thriving, and intelligent biological son, whom I did breastfeed for over a year, as proof in the pudding. When we first started the adoption process, I mourned the loss of the bonding and health benefits of breastfeeding. Then I started wondering if I could also breastfeed the child we were hoping to adopt. At first I wondered how people would perceive me breastfeeding a child who wasn’t biologically mine. Was it weird? Unnatural? I got mixed responses when I started asking people’s opinions, but after hearing a lot of praise of the idea, if possible, I started researching more. Here’s what I learned in my journey: Follow me over to adoption.com for the rest of the article and the 9 things I wish I had known about adoptive breastfeeding!

Breast-Feeding vs. Formula – Adoption.com

GreatDebateDo you feel society is judging you for formula feeding your adopted child?  You are not alone.  The mommy wars are in full swing when it comes to how parents feed their children.  When adoption is how your family is formed, outsiders may not know or understand the circumstances and  may be judging you for that bottle.  Know that you have the right to stand firm and feel good about the nutrition you are providing!
To read the full story about The Great Debate visit adoption.com.

Blog Sponsors?

toomanyproductsOK readers… It’s time for your input again.  I have been approached a lot lately to have advertisements on my page.  I would like to know your thoughts on this.  Some companies have been asking for reviews of products or ads/coupons placed on my page.  While some of these products could possibly be a good fit and helpful to fellow parents, I don’t want them to be intrusive on my page and distract from why you actually visit, to read the articles on adoption.  I have added a page to publish book reviews by people who have requested them, or relevant books I think you would like.  You’d have to willingly click to go to that page though.  So I don’t have a problem with that.  Some other things, like coupons for child, health or food/drink products I am interested to see your thoughts on.  Some vendors have asked for a blog post reviewing a product.  I am not keen on that idea.  Others have suggested doing a give-a-way of their product in exchange for an ad placement on the page.  So… what are your thoughts?

Letter to Santa – By The Ugly Volvo

This is one of the best blog posts I have seen in a long time.  Ezra just turned 11 months old and this fits him to a T.  Sorry, this entry is completely unrelated to adoption, but it fits my Ezra perfect!  I had to share it with you!

A Ten-Month-Old’s Letter To Santa

By , December 10, 2013

Dear Santa,

 I am a ten-month-old baby and I write because my mother has been sending out my “Christmas List” to people, and her list does not in any way represent the things I really want.  I could give two s#*ts about receiving stacking cups.

And I know you’re ready to make the joke about ten month-old babies and how all we want is the wrapping paper and the boxes.  Touché, SantaTouché.   We do, of course, want those things.  But I have a number of additional things I want very badly.

My list is enclosed below.  Have a lovely holiday.

-Ten Month-Old Baby

See the wishlist at:  http://theuglyvolvo.com/2013/12/10/a-ten-month-olds-letter-to-santa/

Inducing Lactation

Inducing Lactation

Sarah Baker | May 22, 2013 | 01:04 PM

Since my first son, Isaac, is biologically mine, I was able to naturally breast feed him. I never really cared for the smell or the cost of formula and I felt it was what was best for him. God gave me the ability, so I was going to try my hardest to make it work. I successfully breast fed Isaac until he was about 14 months old. When we decided on adoption, I wished I could give our new baby the same nourishment. I worried about all sorts of things, like first of all, how would I even be able to do it? Secondly, would people think I was strange if I nursed a baby I adopted instead of gave birth to? I talked to the mother who selected us and she was on board for me doing it, so that made me feel like I could and should!

I started the process by searching the web to find resources on inducing lactation and seeing my OBGYN and endocrinologist. I was a bit discouraged at first because the most beneficial sites I found suggested a 6+ month induction time frame for best results. I didn’t have that much time. My GYN referred me to Mercy Hospital’s lactation department. There I met with a wonderful lady who sat down with me and went over my hopes and the protocols that I found online. She was very happy to hear that I was actually “re-lactating” since I nursed Isaac years ago. She was hopeful that it would be much easier for me; however we had a road block with the protocol. The protocol still called for 2 drugs to be taken. One was an oral birth control (I decided on Ocella for the estrogen and progesterone) as well as a drug called Domperidone. It is actually a medication used for severe acid reflux and nausea (I have those frequently), but its side effect is increased prolactin. Prolactin is made by the pituitary gland (I used to have a pituitary tumor that secreted prolactin, so my doctor took some convincing on this protocol). Domperidone is highly recommended by lactation consultants and doctors alike, however it has never been approved by the FDA in the US. It can be prescribed, but because of its lack of FDA approval, some doctors are nervous to actually write a script. I had to make the decision to order it from another country or take an alternate drug called Reglan which crosses the blood brain barrier and can cause mental illness if taken longer than 3 weeks. I went with ordering Domperidone from another country. The risk seemed far less scary. With 17 weeks left to go in the birth mother’s pregnancy, I started taking Ocella. I tolerated the birth control very well. I was to skip the placebo pills and continue with just the hormone pills until I stop a few weeks prior to birth. Adding in the Domperidone gradually and continuing taking it after the birth control is stopped to keep the milk production and prolactin high. Because I nursed Isaac, my milk glands were already in the state they needed to be or apparently it wouldn’t take much to get them where they needed to be. Within days of taking birth control, my breasts started to hurt and feel much heavier. I began massaging them daily for about 5 minutes per breast. I began nipple stimulation with the massage and in the shower for a few minutes each day to toughen, stimulate and prepare.

The “Ask Lenore” website is the standard protocol used for inducing… it says to take to take the Domperidone the entire time you are taking the birth control and eventually wean off it once milk supply is well established. Other sites claim that it has a peak point at 14 days of use and then begins to trail off. So that was going to be trial and error I suppose. Within a few weeks I started getting drops of milk. I was impressed with the quick results! Unfortunately, our adoption match fell through and we were unsure if we would proceed in adoption after our devastation of that loss, so I stopped the protocol. When we decided to move forward again we were matched very quickly and I started again. Although I did get some milk before Ezra was born, it was not full supply. He was a hungry little fella and although he was excellent at nursing, my milk supply never fully came in and out of pure exhaustion I turned to formula. I was disappointed in myself, but he did continue to nurse daily for the first month while also getting formula. I am glad we had some time together with breast feeding, even if it wasn’t much milk or a full year. It was an excellent way to bond with my new baby.

Some helpful things to help with milk production to have on hand are:

• Fenugreek

• Goat’s Rue

• Oatmeal

• Mother’s Milk Tea

• Medela or other brand Nursing Simulator

• A good breast pump

PS. Two big things happened for Ezra this week: The doctor said he was ready to start cereal, so we tried it and he LOVED it. Isaac was 6 months when he tried rice cereal. Drum roll please, Ezra’s very first tooth broke through…. 4 months and 2 weeks old. Isaac was 7 months old when he got his first tooth. I was a very thankful breast feeding mama for that! It really goes to show you how each baby is so different.

Negativity Around Adoption

Negativity Around Adoption

“I’m Having Their Baby”

Sarah Baker | May 21, 2013 | 12:43 PM

Adoption is a beautiful and loving act. Until recently, I had no reason to think anyone would ever feel differently about it. Imagine my shock when I saw there are groups online that are anti-adoption and seek out social media and other platforms to voice their hate of the practice.

There is a TV show on the Oxygen Network called I’m Having Their Baby. The 2nd season of the series premiers June 12th. We are on that premier episode with the story of our adoption. Of course, being featured on the show, I visit their website, watch the station and follow their Facebook page.

As the show fan base grew, I began seeing more people posting on the Facebook page about their experiences with adoption. Most were birth mother’s saying they love the show and telling their story or adoptive parents sharing their story or their hopes of becoming parents through adoption one day. Later, I started seeing people post that they disliked the name of the show and that it implied that these pregnant women’s unborn child already belonged to the adoptive parents. I can see where that might strike a nerve. I don’t think it was the intent of the network to have it looked at like that. The show’s first season very much focused on the birth mothers and the journey of deciding to place their child for adoption. The adoptive parents played very little role in the show, sometimes they weren’t featured at all.

I then began seeing the comments get ugly. Activist groups started posting daily messages on every single post the TV show made. On the posts that people made supporting adoption or saying they liked the show would get attacked. Of course I wanted to understand why they hated adoption so much. Some people were from other countries where the adoption history is not formal or even legal in some situations. It is true baby trafficking. But, this show features American adoptions which follow very strict guidelines. I was dumbfounded by their hatred and felt they were off topic with comparing apples to oranges. Comments that I read are: “Adoptees would rather be aborted than placed for adoption.” And “Infertile women feel entitled to take other women’s babies.” And “Adoption is nothing more than baby trafficking.” One comment even said that instead of adopting women’s babies that are too poor, uneducated, addicted or incapable, it was our job to help them by providing for them so they were able to keep their baby. I can understand the want to keep babies with their birth family. As our story will show when it airs, (If you watch that show, be aware this entry brings somewhat of a **SPOILER ALERT**) I fully support a mother parenting her own child. But if she makes the decision to place her baby or child for adoption because of where she is in her life, I am not here to judge her for her reasoning, like many of these online trolls are doing, but to instead open my heart and home to raise that baby as if it came from my own womb.

I did not purchase Ezra, I adopted him. I did not coerce his birth mother into giving him to me, she made a decision and I accepted him. The agency provided her and her fiancé with counseling to make sure the decision she was making was truly the decision she was comfortable with. Not only do these activists against adoption attack the adoptive parents, but they have begun attacking women that post on the Facebook page about how they placed their child for adoption X number of years ago and how they have no regrets. I read a comment directed to a birth mother yesterday that said “you never loved that baby, stop lying.” WOW, that is just devastating to me. Until you are in someone else’s shoes, why be so judgmental?

In a perfect world every person would be able to have the exact number of children they want at the perfect moment in their life while living the in the perfect environment to raise that child. But that is not the case for everyone. The decision to place a child for adoption does not mean the mother doesn’t love her baby. She will likely always have an ache to raise that child. The decision to adopt a child does not mean that we are so baby hungry that we lack the emotion to deal with the pain the birth mother feels in her choice or to love our adopted child so much to realize we need to recognize the hurt and loss he/she will feel in their life. As an adoptee wants to know his/her birth parents that does not mean they don’t love the parents who raised them. This is why I am so thankful to have training, counseling, open adoption, and ongoing resources to help my son as he grows. But no matter what anyone says, he is MY son… he just also happens to be the son of someone else as well. Adoption may hurt in some ways, but it also is so cherished in many others.

Lesson Learned

Lesson Learned

Sarah Baker | May 18, 2013 | 10:13 AM

My biggest advice and unfortunately, a lesson I had to learn the hard way, is set boundaries immediately. Often the agency you work with will initiate the first meeting and prepare both you and the birth mother for what to expect in the type of adoption that is being proposed. But, that doesn’t always mean that all parties understand or “hear” the expectations. As the adoptive parent, you can’t allow the want for a child to cloud your good judgment. Getting yourself in a position of not being able to follow through on promises is unfair to all parties, even if it’s by omission. Meaning, the birth parent may express something they want and if you don’t know how to address it and so you just nod and smile, then in his/her mind, you have just made a promise. That is the lesson I learned.

Be up front about everything. How often do they want to see the child and how often are you able to make it happen or feel comfortable with? How often do you want to talk on the phone? How often will you send pictures or letters? Are gifts at holidays and birthdays allowed? All questions you should consider.

It is known today that open adoptions are healthier for the child and the birth parents than the formerly done closed adoptions. But, just because they are more common today and healthier, doesn’t mean they are more understood. People still relate to closed adoptions and family members may not understand the need for open adoption. You may ask them to do some research or share with them the information you learn in your training. It’s rare to find a birth mother who doesn’t love the child she is carrying, so open adoption may be something she is excited about. She may also feel like she loves that child so much that an open adoption would be too difficult for her. Hopefully that’s not the case.

Things open adoptions are not:

• Co-Parenting

• Custody arrangement

• Long term child care

Things open adoptions are:

• Birth parents having knowledge of wellbeing of the child

• Self-identity for the child

• Love and communication

With Ezra’s birth parents, we have what we feel is the perfect amount of communication and visits. At just 4 months old, we have seen his birth mother a few times. On Mother’s Day weekend we invited her and her close relatives to spend the day with our family at our house for a cookout. With social media and text messaging, it makes staying in touch so easy. His birth mother and her family love seeing pictures and videos I post of him and we occasionally swap baby stories and milestones via text. She is so proud of him and loves seeing him grow. She has told me that there is never a day that she regrets her decision and feels we were the perfect choice for him. That melts my heart. I may have had to learn a hard lesson with our first match to set boundaries, but Ezra’s birth mother and I are both on the same page and it’s because we, together, came up with the way we wanted to proceed at the very beginning.

Selling Yourself

Selling Yourself

Sarah Baker | May 15, 2013 | 12:06 PM

How do you sell or market yourself to expecting mothers? These women come to an agency, lawyer, online forum, friend, church, wherever, considering adoption. They sometimes know exactly what they are looking for and other times don’t know until they find it. So how do you make your family appeal to them? That’s easy… you consider their feelings, remain humble and be yourself! A big mistake would be to inflate the truth or embellish yourself into someone you are not. The goal is to have a good match and a lifelong relationship. People already like you just as you are, so will an expecting mother.

First you may want to start with an introductory letter to the execting parent(s). Thank them for considering you. Put yourself in their shoes and how they must feel, but don’t assume too much. Every birth mother makes this decision for a different reason. Then tell them why you want to be parents. Tell them why you think you’ll make good parents. What are your values, believes, hobbies, etc. Keep it simple and heart felt. Give them a reason to ask to know more about you.

The time to really show off who you are and what kind of parents you’ll be is in the bio book. Each agency probably has different guidelines on how to complete this stage. Some may not even do full books. Since I am a photographer and a marketing manager, I felt this would be the most fun and self-educating task of the process. Let the book tell your story. Whether you are into scrapbooking or a digital technology junkie like me, you can make the book feature who you are. Through pictures, stories, tid bits and more, you can let someone take a sneak peek into your life.

Still unsure where to get started? Ask your agency for references of former waiting families. Or go online and do a search for samples. If you lack the creative gene completely, there are even people out there you can hire to help you with this. I enjoyed making ours so much, that I have considered offering it as something I can do for people. You may surprise yourself and really have fun putting it together!

Don’t let the fear of this assignment stop you from having the family of your dreams.

Our bio book if you want an example:

http://www.mixbook.com/photo-books/baby/adoption-bio-book-7355133?vk=4zzA9YxL1U

What is a Home Study?

What is a Home Study?

Sarah Baker | May 14, 2013 | 02:07 PM

Every state and even by county, the home study process differs slightly. For us, it was a multi-part and several month long process that terrified us. Basically this detailed report will tell an agency, a judge and birth parents if we were found to be fit for parenting. Being we already have a son, wow, the pressure really felt “on”. Things involved in the adoption home study were:

• FBI and BCI background checks.

• Training classes through the county, which we were lucky enough to be approved to take them online.

• A house evaluation. This included a tour of our home to check for fire safety, chemical safety, sanitary conditions, adequate bedrooms, etc.

• A fire inspection. This included checking smoke detectors, having an evacuation plan and emergency phone numbers posted. Our fire inspector was also pleased to see we had multiple fire extinguishers in the house.

• References from friends with a form for them to fill out about us.

• A very long packet to fill out answering in great detail everything about us as a family. Job history, relationships, income, home size, childhood, views on discipline, religion, conflict resolution, etc.

It took a while for everything to be completed for the home study, but they were really nice about it and the social worker assigned to us was helpful in answering our questions and putting our fears at ease. While waiting on the home study to be approved, I wanted to get started on the fun stuff; making our profile book and one page bio that the agency would use to show the pregnant mothers considering adoption.

We were so eager to move forward with the adoption and the home study felt like a huge and daunting milestone. But, keep in mind, that the back ground checks, the certification courses and the inspections are not to STOP you from getting a child, but to protect that child. The social workers are helpful and kind people who have these little precious children’s best interests in mind and giving them a loving and safe home is in their best interest. You don’t have to be wealthy, just capable. You don’t have to be an OCD clean freak, just sanitary and safe. You don’t have to be perfect, just a capable parent.