By An Adopt4Life Community Parent
I heard about adoptive breastfeeding through an adoption forum I am part of. When our adopted daughter joined us at 5 months old and was failing to thrive, I naturally wanted to give her the very best nutrition possible. I had breastfed my two biological daughters and found it easy, convenient, and calming for my babies. I loved the idea of giving our adopted daughter the nutritional benefits of breastmilk while enhancing our bond and helping her to feel calm. I read more about inducing lactation and decided it was worth a try!
I joined another forum on Facebook specifically related to adoptive breastfeeding. This group was by far my greatest resource on this journey. I decided to skip the birth control and go right to using domperidone and pumping. I had heard that mothers who had breastfed before were more likely to get a full supply, even without the use of birth control. So, I had high hopes!
After 11 days of pumping and taking 90 mg of domperidone, I got my first drop of milk! I could hardly believe that it was actually working. After a few more days, I was able to collect enough milk to give our adopted daughter in a syringe. I decided I would try a supplemental nursing system with formula in it to see if our daughter would even latch … well, she would NOT. I tried several times and decided this was just not something she would be doing. I resigned myself to giving her my breastmilk in a bottle and relished in the joy of providing this optimal nutrition.
Around this time, we also learned that our daughter’s birth mother was expecting another baby and she asked if we would adopt that baby as well. It was a very difficult decision as we considered the current make-up of our family and the needs of our four children. My husband and I needed time to decide. But, as I continued to pump several times a day and my supply was slowly increasing, I started dreaming of nursing a newborn baby from day one with a full supply and just how incredible that would be.
Fast forward 5 months. The decision was made and I was in a hospital room watching our son enter the world. After 5 months of pumping, I was producing 15 oz of breastmilk per day and giving most of that by bottle to our daughter. It felt like a two-for-one deal – she benefited from the milk I pumped in preparation for her brother who I hoped would benefit from a full supply. I had heard that your supply can double after baby starts nursing. I was hopeful!
Well, like so many things in adoption (and parenting in general!) it didn’t go quite as I had hoped and I never did make more than 15 oz per day. And those 15 oz/day took some serious commitment and grit to produce. I endured blisters and several clogged ducts that became infected. I vividly remember pumping in a hotel room and crying because the clog would not come out and I just wanted to swim with my family but was in so much pain!
After 4 months of nursing our son, another clogged duct had me feeling awful and he simultaneously began losing interest in nursing. I think it was the grace of God telling me, “It’s time.” I stopped taking domperidone. My supply soon dried up and we are now exclusively formula feeding.
My adoptive breastfeeding experience was not all that I thought it would be, but I am so glad I did it. Would I do it again? I don’t think so. But I am overwhelmingly thankful for the privilege of nourishing two of our adopted babies with my very own milk. It was something that meant a lot to me, but not something I would suggest every adoptive mother try. I believe that the bond I created with the adopted daughter I did not breastfeed is just as secure and other adoptive mothers that bottle feed from day one can certainly establish a bond that is just as strong as the mothers that breastfeed.
The beauty is in a mother’s desire to give her baby the best she can give, and that goes way beyond the ways we choose to feed our babies.