New parents naturally feel a sense of wonder at their infant’s dependence on them. After all, they have no clue how their baby will react to the world outside of the womb. However, the caretakers who welcomed their newborn into the world may experience something darker in response to that same sense of wonderment – anxiety about whether or not their adoptive child will accept the new arrival into his or her family. Now that your adoptive child is finally home and has adjusted to his new environment, it is time for him to meet his newest family member – you. When you first met your child during adoption, he was happy and excited about being part of your family unit.
However, eventually, those feelings faded away, and he began exhibiting signs of distress again whenever you brought up the topic of adoption again. Even though it may be frustrating for you right now, trust us when we say your adoptive child may grow to love you as his parent one day. As such, there are ways you can help stimulate lactation when your infant is ready for a new baby in the house sooner rather than later.
Know your child’s temperament and be aware of his stressors.
Before you try to induce lactation, you need to know your child’s temperament and be aware of any stressors he is currently facing. For example, did your child experience considerable trauma during the adoption process? Did he have to be separated from his birth family? If so, your efforts to stimulate lactation may be for naught. In addition, if you and your partner have decided to try to induce lactation as a fertility treatment, then you need to keep in mind that there are certain days of the month when your female partner is most likely to be fertile.
You are also more likely to be fertile on some days during other periods of your menstrual cycle. If you have adopted a baby boy, you should be aware that the hormone testosterone is produced in boys at a much higher level than in girls. This means that a change in your baby’s body chemistry could cause him to show signs of being “aroused.” These signs could include increased hunger, urination, irritability, and aggressive behavior.
Bond with your child and make sure he knows you are there for him
When your child is separated from his birth family, he may feel abandoned, neglected, or misunderstood by them. This could have caused him to feel resentful and angry towards the adoptive parents if they didn’t quite “fit” as his parents. This could also increase anxiety and distress when you try to bond with him; your adoptive child may need extra support. When you are with your child, try to make it a point to show that you are there for him no matter what, no matter how frustrated he may get with you. Talk to him about how sorry you are that he had to separate from his birth parents, and let him know that you will always be there for him. He may prefer being annoyed with you over feeling guilty about causing him distress, so keep doing what you can to make him feel loved.
Talk to your child about their adoption experience.
Whenever your child is ready to talk about adoption and what it was like to be separated from his birth family, do so in a supportive manner. Let your child know that you care about what happened to him and that you are there for him no matter what. When your adoptive child is ready to talk about their adoption experience again, ensure they appropriately express their feelings. Instead of directing your adoptive child to talk to you about their feelings, let them express themselves healthily.
Try out some baby games for adults.
When you first met your child, they were most likely in high arousal because they were separated from those they were attached to during adoption. The more you can engage with your child now, the better. Try reading to him, playing games with him, and engaging in activities he enjoys. Let him pick out his activities, too, so that he is not always being “parented” by you. Let him see that he is capable of self-care.
Try hiring a lactation consultant to help you.
If you are considering hiring a lactation consultant to help you induce lactation and breastfeed your adoptive baby, here are some steps you can take:
- Find a lactation consultant: Look for an IBCLC-credited lactation consultant with experience working with adoptive mothers and inducing lactation. You can start by asking your healthcare provider for a referral or searching for a lactation consultant in your area through a professional association such as the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA).
- Schedule an initial consultation: Once you have identified a lactation consultant, schedule an initial consultation to discuss your goals and concerns. During this consultation, the lactation consultant will gather information about your medical history, breastfeeding goals, and current breastfeeding knowledge and will work with you to develop a personalized plan for inducing lactation.
- Attend follow-up appointments: Depending on your needs and progress, you may need to attend several follow-up appointments with the lactation consultant. These appointments may involve breast stimulation techniques, advice on nutrition and supplements, and guidance on breastfeeding positions and latch.
- Be patient and persistent: Inducing lactation can be challenging, and it may take time and persistence to establish a successful breastfeeding routine. However, with the support and guidance of a lactation consultant, you can increase your chances of successfully inducing lactation and enjoying the many benefits of breastfeeding for you and your baby.
Hiring a lactation consultant can be a valuable investment in your breastfeeding journey as an adoptive mother. With the right support and guidance, you can overcome obstacles and enjoy the many rewards of breastfeeding your adopted baby.
Let your adoptive baby know you want to breastfeed him or her.
As soon as your adoptive baby is ready to be weaned from the “booster” feed of breast milk, let them know that you want them to be weaned from this source of nutrition. Let your adoptive baby know that you are ready for them to be a “normal” baby again. Hopefully, this will cause your adoptive baby to begin expressing their need for breast milk again, even if it is subconsciously. Even if this does not happen, you should be ready for any signs that your adoptive baby is ready for you to begin breastfeeding them again.
While it may be difficult to wait for your adoptive child to be ready to bond with you again, make sure that you keep yourself busy and that you do not let your adoptive child become dependent on you while they are still feeling traumatized by their adoption experience. Good things will happen to your adoptive child one day, and they will thank you for being so patient while they recover.