Adoption: Breastfeeding & Attachment
My thoughts on adoption and breastfeeding are pretty simple:
We will feed our child with formula.
I am not going to try to induce lactation to breastfeed.
- I always assumed I’d breastfeed (sort of like I just assumed I’d get pregnant and have living children, and we all know how that worked out). But, because none of our 5 pregnancies got that far, I did not start researching it too much so I have not developed passionate feelings about it. I figured if I could breastfeed, great. If not, I’ll just use formula – many a kids and most of my parents’ generation were raised on formula, and they seem just fine to me. Honestly, I’m thankful I seem to be holding onto this attitude, because for the most part it’s allowed me not to be too hung up on this issue. Yes, I will miss sharing that bond with our baby, but I will bond without baby in other ways and that’s okay.
- Ideally, I would have liked to breastfeed. I think it’s the ideal way to start a child’s life and I think it’s also a special bond that mothers and babies share. That said, many a healthy babies have been raised on formula so our child won’t be the first and won’t be the last. And, I know we can form a healthy bond in other ways.
- By choosing bottle feeding, Mr. MPB will be as critical to the first few months of our child’s life as me. I think this is one of the most exciting things – he will be an equal partner. Our child will be attached to both of us, providing him or I the ability to answer the I’m hungry cry. And as an added bonus, it also means that I will have a bit more flexibility as Mr. MPB can step up and feed the baby if I’m at the grocery story. It means we are truly a parenting team in every single way.
- I find the whole idea of inducing lactation a bit odd. I’m not sure why, but it almost feels unnatural to me to force my body to try to feed a baby that didn’t come from it. I really don’t mean to be disrespectful to those who do, it’s just doesn’t feel right to me. It’s odd to me. And, I really don’t know why. I realize I’m not articulating this well at all, but I cannot really explain it. It might be right for others, but it’s not right for me. Maybe at some point I’ll be better able to articulate this, but for now it just doesn’t feel right – probably in part due to my fifth reason (below).
- I’m yet to meet an in-real-life adoptive mom who has successful been able to breastfeed. I know it can be done, but I also know its hard work and rarely successful. My body has already failed me, and our babies countless times. I do not need to try to induce lactation and potentially watch my body fail again. I don’t want to end up watching my body fail while knowing that my living child is unable to eat enough to survive. Honestly, I cannot bear the thought of letting down a living child that has been entrusted to us. I know emotionally I just cannot go there. I am wise enough to know that all of this means that an attempt at lactation is probably not a good mental health thing for me.
All this said, we will have some two pretty strict rules regarding feeding our baby:
- Absolutely no-one, but Mr. MPB and I will be allowed to bottle feed our child in the first 3-6 months – basically, until we feel confident that we are bonding strongly as a family. It is absolutely critical that we build a healthy attachment relationship with our child, and one of the key ways to do this with an infant adoption is through basic care being done by only the parents. So, Mr. MPB and I will be responsible for all feedings and all diaper changes too. (Of course if we decide to go out for an evening date night the babysitter will feed our child, we will not let them starve). I’m told by others who have walked this path before us to expect others to be upset with us for this approach, particularly grandparents who just want to help. Hopefully this doesn’t happen, but if it does I’m optimistic they will understand when we explain why.
- Anyone, particularly a stranger, who has the nerve to judge me for bottle feeding will be told politely that our child’s options are to be bottle fed with formula or starve to death. People may not like my response but if someone is judging me for caring for my child without knowing any details, I am not going to sugar coat it to spare their feelings. And I am most definitely not going to allow their judgement of me/us to be perceived as acceptable, and the only way to do that is to be honest and straightforward. I hope that this will help people to understand that judgement without facts is unnecessary and hurtful to parents who are doing everything they can to care and love their child.
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