Opinions, O My Bastards?

Adoptive mothers who breastfeed, or consider it, often seem quite surprised by the reactions of adult adoptees like me who see this as a violation.

I see it as adding insult to injury, myself. Imagine you’re an infant minding your own business in, say, Ethiopia when suddenly you are uprooted from everything you know and flown around the world. Everything looks and smells and sounds and moves differently from what you’re used to. The light, the air–everything is different. No matter your age, on some level you grok pretty quickly that it’s you who is expected to adjust to all this, that nothing you perceive will be changing for your benefit, that you had best adapt ASAP.

Then one of these huge white funny-smelling people shoves a tit in your face and croons “I’M your mommy NOW, Jacob” when your name is Dawit and you know perfectly well who your mother is and what she sounds and smells and looks like.

Seriously, it’s like something out of a horror movie. The only way to make it worse for the kid would be if the a’mom wore clown make-up for every feeding.

We’re going to raise a generation of children who cry when they see milk, I know we are.

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58 Comments

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58 responses to “Opinions, O My Bastards?

  1. If you clicked “other,” please comment. Thanks!

  2. Leafdancer

    Breastfeeding is a perfectly normal thing, and if it helps an adoptive mother and child bond, that’s fantastic! Depending on the age of the child, breastfeeding an adoptive child (particularly if the woman has never borne children) may not even be possible, but kudos to any woman who is committed to trying. Breastfeeding an adoptive child is no different from feeding that child donor breastmilk. Or do you object to that as well?

  3. Wet nurses have been used for centuries by large portions of the population throughout the world. I guess you think that’s a violation as well, huh. Drinking milk that comes from a dirty cow is *SO* much more preferable than a warm, human being who has brought your into their lives and treats you like their own flesh and blood.

  4. I have no problem with breastfeeding (public or otherwise) one’s own child, or milk banks, or wet nursing as it was traditionally practiced. And never, either in this entry or elsewhere, have I said otherwise.

    Wet nurses did not traditionally claim to be the infants’ mothers, and feed them in an attempt to make them believe that. Nor did they traditionally induce lactation AFAIK.

    Are either of you adopted?

  5. Leigh

    I have no experience with adoption so I won’t pretend that my opinion counts for much. But I did notice that your poll made no mention of any potential benefits beyond “bonding” experience. I can definitely get what you’re saying about that… But from a strictly medical and nutritional standpoint, breastmilk is the superior infant food by far. And pumping and bottle-feeding it is not always possible (many women can not pump successfully – but a baby can nurse from them successfully). Not to mention the difference in nursing from a breast vs. bottle – mouth and jaw development, etc.
    I never would have guessed the main purpose would be for the benefit of the mother or “bonding”, but instead to meet the nutritional and biological needs of the infant.

  6. Killian James

    “I don’t know how adoptees feel about their existence. (From this writer’s perspective, apparently pretty resentful and bitter? How sad.) I’m just a birthmother. But I sure hope that my birthson and his adoptive parents consider their relationship to be that of parent/child. Not second-class child, not slightly-less-than-real child. So why would an adopted child deserve less than normal nutrition? I realize that it’s often not possible to not FF adopted babies, but I personally have the utmost respect for adoptive moms who induce lactation to make sure their baby isn’t getting shortchanged due to the circumstances of their birth.”

    • You don’t seem to have been paying attention Killian!! BF by adopters is not normal nutrition it is inadequate, provides far less than a baby needs and has to be supplemented anyway by bottle.It is chemically induced, who knows what effects that has later?And oh dear you’ve made assumptions about an adoptee being bitter etc.I see you don’t really understand the complexity of adoption for adoptees.

  7. As an experienced breastfeeder and adoptee blogger I can tell you that whenever I have blogged about breastfeeding adoptees there has been a huge response.Many breastfeeding counsellors and those who know the mechanics tell us it is not only gross but does not give a child right nourishment, suitable milk input or any advantages when performed by someone not the mother.My question has always been…so who is it for?

  8. Again, I did not, do not and will not deny the benefits of breastfeeding in general. What I’m creeping out about is inducing lactation for purposes like “feeling like a mother” and “forming a ‘bond'” with a baby you didn’t give birth to; and this is why many adoptive mothers have stated they induce.

    I’m definitely coming at it from the adoptee viewpoint. That’s what this blog is about, and this post is the first time I know of I’ve attracted readers who aren’t adopted. I appreciate your taking the time to comment!

  9. Sorry, my comment above was directed to Leigh. eag’s came in while I was typing, thus proving her point! (-:

  10. boo-baby

    Snurchin~
    Based on the poll ‘results’ it would seem this post (at least) has attracted a fairly large number of adoption lurkers or otherwise ‘touched’ non-adoptees. As an adult adoptee and woman (not a mother) I am horrified at the thought that my a-mother might have nursed/tried to nurse me. I am so disgusted by the image that I will never ask, so that I may continue to assume that she did not. If she did, I truly DO NOT want to know it. Ugh!
    Like you, however, I am perfectly aware of the advantages of breastfeeding one’s OWN (biologically created) child. I am also scientifically aware that the vast majority of those advantages are ONLY beneficial to one’s biological offspring, not to any ol’ infant. To reinforce eagoodlife’s question, Who is it for? No, who is it *really* for?

  11. Lauri Lee

    Here’s an article on induced lactation.

    http://www.surrogacy.com/medres/article/lac.html

    I appears that very little milk is produced via suckling alone and hormonal induced lactation. Which I can only imagine produces a completely gypped nourishment feeling for the infant. I hardly think this is fulfilling satiating experience, and would thus seem solely for the adoptive mother’s benefit. Unless they hook the breast up to some kind of apparatus that gives an extra supplementary artificial milk source, as mentioned at the end of the article. Why not cut to the chase and give the infant a bottle (or it’s mother)?

    This article also gives a comparison of pregnancy induced milk and artificially induced milk. The artificially induced milk does not contain colostrum, which is the first milk containing antibodies. So zero colostrum antibody gain from induced lactation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colostrum

    At one point I had a wet nurse. This does not gross me out, it was a very practical measure. However, if I ever heard my adoptive mother had tried to suckle me, I would consider this something delusional and a bit desperate about her psychology. And even more warped if she connected herself up with tubes to deliver the actual nutrition. It’s incredibly pretentious.

  12. Another factor in the poll results might be that I didn’t limit the number of times you can vote. Hell, I voted twice myself.

    And I can’t believe eagoodlife and boo-baby asked whom this practice is for. Use your Orphans Only Universal Adoption Translator Ring, sillies!

  13. Oh love a bit of irony first thing in the morning! x

  14. Jessica

    I don’t really understand your thinking. Why are you so grossed out by this. Is it because you see breasts as only sexual, and an attempt of you’re adopted mother to breastfeed you as sexual abuse?

    Baby’s come out of the womb expecting to be be nursed. They expect to be held and nourished by human milk. If I were a baby from Ethiopia, and was flown all the way around the world to some strange environment. A mother’s breast is something I imagine would be very comforting indeed.

    • Lauri Lee

      I don’t see breastfeeding as sexual in the way you imply. I have no problem with breastfeeding, I have very positive feelings about my mother breastfeeding me, I also have very pragmatic feelings towards having had a wet nurse because I have not reason to believe she was trying to replace my mother, she was providing nurture because she could. I have a problem with thinking that my adoptive mother would attempt to breastfeed me to induce lactation.

      I was an infant that was flown around the world to adoptive parents, and my immediate response to being put in my adoptive mother’s arms was to cry until someone took me off her (which I think is fairly normal behaviour for adoptees, as I’ve seen plenty of footage of “wonderful” first meetings where the infant’s first response was to cry in the adoptive mothers arms). I have always known she was the replacement I was supposed to accept as the real deal, and she never was the real deal, even though I do care for her as the person who fulfilled a role. I cannot think of this as anything other than creepy to have a stranger trying to bond with me but shortchanging me a full meal by trying to suckle me with inadequate milk supply. It might make the adoptive mother feel better, but I suspect the infant just wants a decent feed and a familiar person to give it to them.

      • Jessica

        The vast majority these poor little babies who in the past would have been wet nursed had very little to do with their actual mothers who were off playing high society. So this wet nurse would have, for the most part, filled the role of mother.

        Also, in the third world, should a mother die during child birth, and the aunt or grandmother of the baby adopted it, it most often would be nursed by the adopted mother.

        Also, and further more, I know of someone irl who had a full supply of milk after never giving birth. That’s not usually the case to be sure, but even among biological mothers, the saying goes, “Any amount of breast milk, is a good amount.” The adopted mothers who induce lactation aren’t starving their children. They’re giving their child comfort and good nutrition and supplementing on the side.

        I’m totally fine with you personally being skeeved out by thinking about your own adopted mother breastfeeding you, but it upsets me when people make blanket statements about the mental health of adopted mothers who try to do it, or that every adoptee thinks the same thing.

        I get the basic overtone that you resent being adopted and your adopted mother, but maybe if your adopted mother had been the type of woman who was so dedicated to you that she would go through the incredibly difficult process of inducing lactation, you may feel differently about the whole thing. There’s no way to know now, but oxytocin is the love and bonding hormone for a reason.

      • Lauri Lee

        Jessica –

        My adoption, like many, was unnecessary, not to mention illegal as my parents never relinquished me, nor ever intended to relinquish me. And I was only procured to fulfill the wishes of perfectly fertile woman in a western country’s desire to adopt for pragmatic (world population) and altruistic reasons. However I did not grow up knowing I was stolen from my family, and I was feed all the convenient untruths that other adoptees are fed regarding being given up. So in the present context I very consciously resent my adoption, especially since I have met many of my family I missed out growing up with.

        But since I didn’t know this until fairly recently, it is largely irrelevant to my feelings towards my adoptive mother growing up.

        Ersatz was good enough for her, it just didn’t feel right to me (but the implication was that I should be more than satisfied if not grateful because theoretically my original parents either didn’t want me, or had the “loving strength” to give me up). Maintaining the illusion that adoptive parenting was just like the real thing was good enough for her, but I could see through the ridiculous pretenses like being handed down a family history and expected to engage with it as if it were mine. I felt appropriated, that my affections were taken by right of procurement.

        I think it is easy to objectify adopted children as something without a past and without specific individual feelings, but as something entirely in the realm of the adoptive parent’s attachment and projections of what the generic interchangeable child wants in relation to the generic parent. My earliest memories of my adoptive parents are feeling either alienated or spooked by their physical appearance. As an adult I can only explain that in terms of either having my sense of what normal looked like referenced as the racial type I had only experienced up to being adopted out of that, or that when I looked at my adoptive parents knowing they fulfilled the concept of parent, that they were not the people I expected to see.

        I don’t think if you doused the two of us in oxytocin, that I would be anymore credulous of the artificial nature of our relationship. As I’ve posted before, oxytocin is only useful for initiating maternal feelings, not for maintaining them.

        She did breastfeed her biological son, but she was also trying to concurrently bottle feed him too, and that just confused him, so she gave up on the breastfeeding.

        I recollect her initiating a discussion topic with me about how some women could induce lactation by suckling when I was a child. I don’t know if there was any implication in that, but in retrospect it was weird topic to bring up with a child. However I figured her breastfeeding choices regarding her son hopefully negated any chance she’d tried that on me. I have always hoped so.

        Even though I think my adoptive parents behaviour attitudes were perhaps not the best, I’m frequently more disturbed by the stories I hear of other people’s adoptive parents, and what my experience is with the attitudes of both PAPs and APs.

        BTW, I don’t think holding up the parenting practices of high society where children were given to wet nurses merely because this was the done thing for the mother, is enhancing any argument on a suitable and natural way to treat children. My wet nurse was not fulfilling this role, and as I’ve stated I have no problem with the role she fulfilled.

        My care as an infant, in a country that was then part of the developing world, was with extended family until this was disrupted. I have no problem with this, if any of my aunts had wet nursed me, they are my family, and yes this is incredibly natural if the mother for any reason is unable to to this. It’s not stranger adoption by entitled westerners who need to make adoption as much like the real thing as possible.

  15. phoenixmama

    ¯The mortality of hand-fed infants is sometimes more than three times that of the breast-fed, but even amongst the breast-fed it has been found that the mortality of infants suckled by strangers is double that of infants suckled by their own mother (Ellis: 1911, p. 17). And the wet-nurses of early centuries would not have had their milk induced by synthetic hormones – I agree with Von – if the only nourishment available to assist an infant to survive was the milk of a stranger then that would have to suffice, but this is not about the needs of the infant this is about forcing an unnatural attachment. It is the intention that is sick – and the infant would instinctively know that he or she was being used to satisfy the emotional needs of the infertile woman. Breast feeding will not develop bonding – the infant knows his or her mother as home – a fact that was known in Australia in the early part of the 20th century
    “In his submission to the 1904 Royal Commission on the Birth rate as Chief Officer of the State Children’s Relief Department A. W. Green stated: ‘the mothering of the child is the main business in the matter of mortality, far more than the feeding of the child’ “(Ashton: 2009, p.43). For references see Submission 223:
    http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/clac_ctte/comm_contrib_former_forced_adoption/submissions.htm

  16. SJ

    I’m a transracial adoptee. Thanks for posting the topic — I heard about it just recently for the first time, and I think this practice is totally sick. It’s like baby rape. I can’t help but think that such an adopting mother is psycho, narcissistic, and hence, unfit. A child is a human being, not an object to make someone feel like a mommy. Even if the A-mom and baby are the same race and the baby is only 1 day old, it’s still sick.

  17. Leigh

    “I am also scientifically aware that the vast majority of those advantages are ONLY beneficial to one’s biological offspring, not to any ol’ infant”

    That is simply not true. Do you have any source for this assumption?

    Human milk is the perfect food for human babies. It seems like common sense to me that a mother who induces lactation for an adopted infant realizes this, and would prefer to give her child the best start by providing milk from his own species.

    The “bonding” issue seems to be what people have a problem with, and I understand that. Scientifically speaking, the release of oxytocin during breastfeeding (the “love hormone”) is what facilitates bonding. It has been proven to reduce PPD in new mothers, etc. Not to mention the need for skin-to-skin contact in newborns and its effect on their developing brains.

    I doubt that an adoptive mother who goes through the trouble to induce lactation (it’s not a simple process by any means) is doing so just for her own benefit, which seems to be the implication here. It is simply how mammals feed babies.

    • lisamew

      I am partially adopted {by a non-biological father when I was a toddler}. I was breastfed by my biological mother. I am currently breastfeeding my daughter and would breastfeed an adopted infant- I would not do so for the bonding experience, specifically, though that would be a nice side benefit. I would do so for the MANY, MANY medical benefits for both child and mother- the passing of antibodies, the ease of digestion {vs formula}, the reduction of risk of Crohns and other diseases, jaw development, reduction of risk of breast cancer {for mum} and diabetes….

      I don’t plan to breastfeed an adopted infant simply because while I do plan to adopt, I plan to adopt an older child who would not be breastfeeding.

      My question to those who are opposed to adoptive breastfeeding would be this, however- what is your view on your adoptive parents calling themselves your true moms and dads in general? The comments here opposed to adoptive breastfeeding seem fixed on the non-biological parent posing as the central parental figure, which seems to me like it would definitely make a difference in your stance on this. I’ve known many adopted kids and adults, and most honestly considered their adoptive parents to be their true parents. Now I wish I’d been into breastfeeding advocacy questions in the past as well to ask them their stance on this! >.<

      • Lauri Lee

        lisamew –

        My true mother and father are the people whose DNA I’m entirely composed of, my adoptive mother and father are the people who provided a replacement nurturing role, they could have been interchanged with any number of PAPs at the time papers were fabricated to make me adoptable. They have come to represent notions of mother and father in unique and non-interchangeable ways, but they are still impostors. In terms of forced suckling by a stranger, on the creepiness spectrum, I only find it moderately creepy, and delusional of the a-mother. I find other aspects of my personal adoption far more violating than to get too hung up over this kind of creepiness.

        My husband was listening to radio show with a woman talking about her struggle to breastfeed but finding herself unable to produce enough milk and the baby crying and getting upset by the lack of food in the whole drama, and the woman felt very demoralised. She felt that it reflected something in her ability mother. I imagine many infertile adoptive mothers feel through infertility a great level of demoralisation as mothers. My level of creepiness comes from the feeling that these mothers are using induced breastfeeding as a way to make them feel more like a mother, to try to fulfill a function that biology gypped them of. Also, from the feeling that this is pushing a stranger relationship to an intimate place too fast, it smacks of trying to force a bonding as fast as possible, and to quickly erase the 9 months (or more, as in many cases myself included) of child bonding with their natural mother in utero. In much the same way as adoptees are shoved into the a-mothers arms without time to get used to their presence from a less intrusive distance as a stranger, and sometimes resulting, as in my case, with distressed crying.

      • lisamew

        What Jessica is saying is a lot of what I was trying to get at- so many of the comments opposed to it presented here focus around the act of the adoptive parent posing as the “real” parent- which I understand as a stance. I would love to see this put to a wider audience of adult adoptees to see if, say, those who never cared to seek out their biological parents and do view their adoptive parents as the “real” ones would feel the same.

        Another blanket statement that is being assumed here is that all adoptive mothers are infertile women, that adoption is only done as a last-ditch effort by some hysterical woman needing to be a mother. I am a fertile woman completely capable of having my own children {and do}- but I do still plan to adopt at some point in my life. I want to do that because my line of work in group homes and residential treatment centers opened my eyes to what happens to kids dumped in the system who don’t get adopted by parents who want and will love them.

        And finally- one last thing- as far as “forced suckling” goes, that also completely undermines how HARD it is to breastfeed an infant. It is SOOOOO hard. You simply could not ever force an infant to breastfeed if they did not want to, if it was not their natural instinct, whether it was their biological mother or not.

      • Lauri Lee

        lisamew

        I have not made a blanket statement about all adoptive mother’s being fertile, I have talked about those that are, which do make up a large proportion of adoptive mothers. My adoptive mother was not infertile, she chose to adopt for other reasons. She had a biological son a year older than I am.

        I chose to focus on the infertile adopters because from my experience listening to them, they seem to be the ones with the attitudes of over-entitlement to parent, who are filling a hole in their lives, and who want full appropriation of a child. That is not to say that other adoptive parents don’t have similar senses of entitlement and believing that their feelings TOWARD a child equate a mutual feeling.

        If you can’t differentiate FORCING suckling by a stranger, with struggling to breastfeed your own child who has known you in utero, I think there is some distorted thinking on your part as to how adopted infants view their adoptive parents for the first time. They literally have never smelt, touched, or seen these people people before. No one adequately explained that these strangers were going to be their parents and that they should instantly attach. But I am writing to the person who thought it was relevant to mention that they were father adopted, but with no disruption to the biological mother bond, when we are talking about mother adoption… I think you don’t understand the basics of disrupted mother-child bond. Children are not free agents looking to bond indiscriminately with any old stranger. The research shows that infants know and recognise their mother’s voice from birth having never heard it out of the womb before. The attachment is already there. Disruption and replacement can happen in better ways than being thrust at a stranger, then thrust into her breast.

        As a child I grew up disliking forced intimacy, being forced to hug a person I did not have a particular attachment to even though I was told I was related to, which included my adoptive parents when they were feeling emotionally needy and took that affection. It creeps me out, like the idea of being suckled by a stranger whose only attachment is all on their side, and that they paid money for you. That creepiness comes from the same place as.

        BTW, I’ll reiterate that induced breast milk contains no colostrum and none of the antibodies you mentioned as a benefit.

      • Lauri Lee

        That first sentence should have read “I have not made a blanket statement about all adoptive mother’s being INfertile, I have talked about those that are, which do make up a large proportion of adoptive mothers.”

    • plenty of evidence about, just put in a search – no assumptions necessary.Human milk is ideally formulated for the baby the mother has birthed.Milk induced by artificial chemicals can in no way be good for babies.Sure skin-to-skin contact is important but the mother has to be your mother, smell right and produce the right milk.Yes I believe adopters do go to the trouble because just as they like to be ‘paper pregnant’ and believe ‘adoption is the new pregnant’ so they like to pretend they can get as near to a genuine birth process as possible.Maybe a comfort for them but not for all those adoptees I have heard the views of in recent years.

      • Leigh

        “plenty of evidence about, just put in a search – no assumptions necessary.”

        I am not finding any evidence that the benefits of breastfeeding are voided if the milk is not coming from a biological mother. In fact, every piece of evidence I know of (and my training as a breastfeeding counselor) says otherwise – why do you think there are donor milk banks? The World Health Organization specifically states that the ideal infant feeding method is milk from an infant’s mother at the breast, secondary is milk from the mother in a bottle, third is donor milk from another human female, and fourth is artificial milk.

        I am not negating the opinion of those of you who were adopted and feel violated by this. But perhaps the problem you see (which is not as obvious to those of us who are not in your position) has more to do with the intentions of specific mothers, rather than the act of breastfeeding itself.

  18. [What I’m creeping out about is inducing lactation for purposes like “feeling like a mother” and “forming a ‘bond’” with a baby you didn’t give birth to; and this is why many adoptive mothers have stated they induce. ]

    I’m also an adoptee, but I have never understood why adoptive lactation is so offensive to other adoptees.

    If the mother knows she isn’t the baby’s biological mother – and the biological mother has NOT been able to keep her child, so the next best idea is breastfeeding as opposed to a bottle – and has admitted to such and knows she can’t replace the original mother, is it really such a bad thing she has chosen to breastfeed?

    How is that any different from biological mother -> adoptive mother -> artificial formula in a bottle? Isn’t it just another one of those good, better, best contexts?

    Yes they could be inducing for the reason of bonding with the baby and omg! feeling like a mother (because, well, they ARE that baby’s mother?), but breastmilk is more healthy than bottle formula, or so I’ve heard…

    • Lauri Lee

      Mei-Ling –

      “I’m also an adoptee, but I have never understood why adoptive lactation is so offensive to other adoptees.”

      If I tell you a story of a girl whose early years were spent in a commune where the lactating woman passed their children around and were suckled by whoever happened to want to at the time, are you going to treat that as just a practical practice of nutrition sharing? Surprise, surprise, it turns out, despite all this communal indoctrination she grew up with, the girl was grossed out when she found out what had happened. On a gut level I can understand why. The mother-child bond is supposed to be exclusive to the mother and her offspring (plural as well) and breastfeeding is tied up in this bonding. I imagine she felt, being a thing to be shared violated that bond. Despite that intimacy, and knowing these woman, they are still “stranger mothers”. Adoption is about creating “stranger mothers”, just because there is only one of them, doesn’t mean they she isn’t a “stranger mother”.

      “If the mother knows she isn’t the baby’s biological mother – and the biological mother has NOT been able to keep her child, so the next best idea is breastfeeding as opposed to a bottle – and has admitted to such and knows she can’t replace the original mother, is it really such a bad thing she has chosen to breastfeed?”

      Well, this would depend if she had really “admitted to such and knows she can’t replace the original mother”, as some adoptive mothers seem to be in denial about this. Which would be the crux of the matter. Many adoptive mother’s feel threatened by the original mother’s place in the child’s life, I have heard that some adoptive parents prefer international adoption to reduce the risk of the original mother intruding. I’m sure some adoptive mother’s give lip-service to being open to original mothers because it is the politically correct thing to do and they know the risk of reunion is very small, but they do feel threatened when the improbable becomes reality (as in the case of a friend of mine who has to deal with her adoptive mother’s paranoid threatened feelings as well her PC denial about them).

      There have also been many cases during the BSE (and even now) where the child could have enjoyed the breast milk of their natural mother, if the the adoption industry hadn’t intervened and prevented that from happening for fear that the mother would become too attached and either refuse to relinquish or become “scarred” from the disrupted bond (as if she wasn’t going to be scarred anyway). When this happens, it seems doubly creepy that an adoptive mother would induce lactation to “feed”/bond to the child. The nutritional best interests of the child would have been to enjoy the antibody benefits of the colostrum in the first milk of their natural mother, and to enjoy a non-disrupted bond for as long as possible.

  19. Lauri Lee

    Leigh –

    I’m not sure the opinion poll was whether the practice had validity. It is titled Opinions, O My Bastards? Which I read as asking adoptees how they feel or think about this. Yes, adoptees, the people with the least voice in adoption, even as adults. Our opinions and feeling are valid regarding our experience. And the only ones valid on this poll. It might have been useful if Snarkurchin had put up two polls, one for adoptees and the other for APs and other parties to put their opinions down and then we could compare the two and see where our perceptions diverge.

    If adoptees say it’s creepy, it really is creepy to those adoptees. We are the ones living it.

    An example of perception divergence, my adoptive mother can tell me how bonded she is to me, but if I don’t feel that bonded to her, then we are not that bonded together. So just as valid for an adoptee to say that it’s creepy to be suckled, when the AP says it is wonderful bonding experience. It’s a two way street, only APs like to stop the traffic on our side and tell us we are all travelling the same way.

    By the way, wikipedia has this to say about oxytocin: “Oxytocin is involved in the initiation of maternal behavior, not its maintenance; for example, it is higher in mothers after they interact with unfamiliar children rather than their own.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxytocin

    • Leigh

      “Our opinions and feeling are valid regarding our experience.”

      I would never say otherwise.

      “If adoptees say it’s creepy, it really is creepy to those adoptees. We are the ones living it. ”

      The act of breastfeeding is “creepy” to many people. Sadly, even a natural mother nursing her own baby is considered offensive by some.

      • Lauri Lee

        Leigh –

        You were right before when you wrote: “…has more to do with the intentions of specific mothers, rather than the act of breastfeeding itself.”

        None of this creepiness has anything whatsoever to do with breastfeeding as a wholesome practice. I have stated before that I have very positive feelings about my natural mother breastfeeding me, and very pragmatic feelings about having a temporary wet nurse. This is solely about ADOPTIVE mother’s INDUCING their bodies to lactate and breastfeeding their ADOPTIVE infants, and nothing to to do with breastfeeding as a normal practice.

        Which a number of people in the commentary have been confusing.

  20. Nicely put, Lauri Lee.

    For the record, I have no interest in banning this practice, nor do I chase women down the street demanding to know whether or not they gave birth to the kid they’re nursing.

    I simply find the concept very, very creepy. (I also find the notion that it’s the only way you can get “skin to skin contact” with a baby preposterous.)

  21. …If your comment wasn’t here last night, you should see it now. Sorry about the hold-up.

    It grosses me out because it does. It seems like forcing an intimacy on an infant, and there’s little the infant can do about it.

    And no, Jessica, that’s not sexual intimacy. I read that page on LLL (the one that tells you anyone who disagrees with you thinks breasts are only sexual) too. Also, you and I imagine different things, Imagine that!

  22. “It seems like forcing an intimacy on an infant, and there’s little the infant can do about it.”

    Well, they’re an infant – they need food, so it has to be provided for them, and breastfeeding is more nutritional than bottle formula.

  23. The content of the breast milk changes as the baby ages – wonder if those changes happen when the natural cycle i.e. pregnancy/childbirth is replaced by supplemental hormones.

    You would need to prove that over the course of 18 months to 2 years someone whose breast milk is created by hormones goes through the same cycle that a natural cycle does…to make any case of true benefit.

    Jessica – classic deflection technique/ad hominen with this statement – happily we are all too aware of the tactic for it to hold any teeth. Nice try though.

    “I get the basic overtone that you resent being adopted and your adopted mother, but maybe if your adopted mother had been the type of woman who was so dedicated to you that she would go through the incredibly difficult process of inducing lactation, you may feel differently about the whole thing. There’s no way to know now, but oxytocin is the love and bonding hormone for a reason.”

  24. Artificially induced lactation usually produces around 30% of a baby’s nutritional needs, what is wholesome about chemical laden milk which doesn’t smell good, taste right or do the job? It’s a bit like offering a poddy calf a tub of ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter’ and expecting it to enjoy the experience, gain nutrition from it and hear the biological mother’s heartbeat in the tub! Come on!
    There are reasons why adoptees find this has the Yuk! factor, some of those may be deeply innate, hard to explain as they are pre-speech, but very valid.I have yet to hear an adoptee say it was a wonderful experience or they wish it had happened to them.
    BY the way I am an experienced BF, supported other mothers in a BF support program and was BF myself by my own mother before adoption when mercifully AL hadn’t been invented.I maintain that a warmly held baby adoptee on the bottle will do as well if not better and that all the fuss and bother is not for the baby at all.It is to give the adopter a sense of ‘normality’.

  25. cb

    Did you know men can breastfeed as well? What is your opinion on that, breastfeeding ladies?
    Personally, I would have felt “rather disturbed” by anyone but my bmother breastfeeding me (and doubt she did, by the way) and that includes my amom, adad, bdad, a random stranger in the street or even a wet nurse. At least a wet nurse has a “ready supply” but all the others would need to artificially induce their breastmilk and it seems like such an effort.

    Actually, for some reason, I would find it slightly less *gross* if the amom had breastfeed her biologically born children before, don’t ask me why (different motives for breastfeeding perhaps?)

  26. If men were meant to breatfeed babies they would have been born women.

  27. ElaineP

    I grosses me out. I breastfed the children that I was pregnant with and came from my womb. If a child needs to be breastfed due to some disaster where there was nothing available but stranger’s breast milk, then you are saving a life. If a stranger put another woman’s biological child to their breast for ‘want’, it is disgusting. Could you imagine someone’s mother-in-law picking up their grandchild and just suckling it? As a mother, you’d be outraged. Could you imagine a stranger suckling your newborn? It feels abusive, intrusive and wrong. Talk about humans screwing around with nature… yuck! But then again, that’s what adoption is ALL about — playing ‘switch around the baby’…. Let’s ‘correct’ what God did wrong –he put that baby in the wrong uterus again… We have to keep switching them around to get it right. Let’s give the baby stranger parents, let’s see what happens… Let’s mess with their heads and not even tell them or pretend that nothing happened. Let’s see if the adoptee can fit in. What a mind game…

    • “If a child needs to be breastfed due to some disaster where there was nothing available but stranger’s breast milk, then you are saving a life. If a stranger put another woman’s biological child to their breast for ‘want’, it is disgusting. Could you imagine someone’s mother-in-law picking up their grandchild and just suckling it?”

      I just wanted to point out that your last statement has nothing to do with “some disaster” in your first statement, unless the “some disaster” ended up with a situation where someone’s mother-in-law ended up having to breastfeed and the biological mother could not.

  28. “If I tell you a story of a girl whose early years were spent in a commune where the lactating woman passed their children around and were suckled by whoever happened to want to at the time, are you going to treat that as just a practical practice of nutrition sharing?”

    Well, obviously having *multiple* women breastfeed one baby is going to have issues.

    But in the case of adoption we are talking about one woman who is unable to breastfeed, and the other does substitute breastfeeding.

    I really don’t see a correlation here. Obviously it’s best that the original mother breastfeed, but if that can’t happen, then the adoptive mother would be the next “best” scenario. There is no best scenario in this case – the original mother cannot breastfeed because she doesn’t have her child.

    You could say the ACT of breastfeeding by the adoptive mother is repulsive because it’s imitating what the original mother is supposed to be doing, in which case, nothing said in this topic would be good enough because it’s the adoptive mother and not the original. Even if the adoptive mother acknowledged she was not the “real” mother and admitted her own breastfeeding wasn’t as good enough it would still be a problem because she has chosen to breastfeed, period. And you don’t think that should be done by an adoptive mother, period.

    • Lauri Lee

      Mei-Ling

      You’ve misunderstood me entirely, and no your summation is not what I think, all I have been doing is merely explaining why I find the practice moderately creepy (stated earlier in the commentary, and no I’ve never used the word repulsive in relation to this subject so that is clearly a projection on your part) which is entirely in relation to the attitudes I’ve experienced from PAPs and APs (my own adoptive mother included), and you did say that you didn’t understand why other adoptees find this creepy, which is kind of putting yourself out there for someone to try to give an explanation. It has nothing to do with which milk is good, better, best. That isn’t the thing that is being refuted even though some people on this thread (not you) have been making inaccurate and overblown claims about the benefits of the milk formed by induced lactation assuming it is the same as post-partum milk. Clearly human milk is better than formula, and original mother’s milk from birth is best, and not a refuted topic.

      From your use of the word “period” terminating your last sentences, I’m sensing a little hostility, or the projection of it…

      I’m sorry if I’ve offended you. Were you by any chance an adoptee who was suckled by your adoptive mother? Or do you wish you had been? If so, could you please explain your own personal feelings (not pragmatic thoughts because you’ve given those) over that?

      • Wasn’t the issue about the adoptive mother’s act of breastfeeding an attempt to force an infant to bond with her? Regardless of health issues, regardless of her admitting she is not the original mother, regardless of her awareness that she can never compensate for the breastmilk designed specifically by the original mother.

        If that is the case, then there is no way any adoptive mother would be able to breastfeed without it being seen as creepy.

        The reason I wrote ‘period’:

        “Even if the adoptive mother acknowledged she was not the “real” mother and admitted her own breastfeeding wasn’t as good enough it would still be a problem because she has chosen to breastfeed.”

        What I am seeing here is “it’s wrong. even if she did it knowing that she could never be the biological mother, it’s still wrong, because breastfeeding in itself is the very act of bonding to an infant. an adoptive mother doing it is forcing the infant to bond to her. so an adoptive mother breastfeeding can never ever be considered right.”

        That’s where the ‘period’ emphasis comes in. It’s wrong because she’s chosen to breastfeed because breastfeeding is bonding with an infant and any type of adoptive breastfeeding is forcing a bonding where it doesn’t exist (or shouldn’t?).

        “Were you by any chance an adoptee who was suckled by your adoptive mother?”

        Yep, which is precisely why I don’t see any issue with it. Yeah, I suppose to you guys that might seem a little screwy. But I’ve never thought of it as wrong, particularly as I was already incredibly malnourished/nutritionally delayed in several aspects, nor did my mother never pretend she could compensate for my original mother.

      • After reading what you wrote and my subsequent response, I wonder if this is one of those debates where we shall have to agree to disagree.

      • TYPO FAIL

        nor did my mother *EVER* pretend she could compensate for my original mother.

      • Lauri Lee

        “After reading what you wrote and my subsequent response, I wonder if this is one of those debates where we shall have to agree to disagree.”

        I didn’t see it as a debate at all, but a number of people on the this thread have been judgmental of some of our emotional responses to this and that is fairly typical of the dismissive attitudes many adoptees face (which may not be your experience but is still valid for those of us who do face those attitudes). I would not have bothered responding to you at all if you had not written “but I have never understood why adoptive lactation is so offensive to other adoptees.” Which I initially read as an invitation to explain a different perspective, but I suspect you were being more judgmental now, and defensive of your own personal experience.

        “Yep, which is precisely why I don’t see any issue with it. Yeah, I suppose to you guys that might seem a little screwy. But I’ve never thought of it as wrong, particularly as I was already incredibly malnourished/nutritionally delayed in several aspects, nor did my mother never [sic] pretend she could compensate for my original mother.”

        Now I understand where you are coming from, even though you still omitted to offer up your feelings (just reasoning) which I was genuinely interested in. I’m glad your mother did not pretend she could compensate for your original mother, in that respect you are very lucky, because in many adoptees cases, our adoptive mothers did not accord our original mothers much genuine respect. I am very sorry to hear that you were in such poor health as an infant, and glad you received the nutritional benefits of human milk.

      • Lauri Lee

        “Wasn’t the issue about the adoptive mother’s act of breastfeeding an attempt to force an infant to bond with her? Regardless of health issues, regardless of her admitting she is not the original mother, regardless of her awareness that she can never compensate for the breastmilk designed specifically by the original mother.”

        No, this was not the issue for me. There was no “regardless… regardless…” because that is constructing a conditional argument to avoid looking at a situation when those conditions don’t exist. What if it’s just the common adoptive mother of old but still in vogue (not the exceptionally sensitive and enlightened one), the type you see pop up on blogs and fb groups who attack adoptees who are critical of adoption practice. The ones who call adoptees ungrateful or angry for having emotional pain and negative feelings that don’t line up with their particular form of positivity about adoption. The ones that label adoptees who search as dysfunctional, the ones that don’t see sealed records as a problem (or actively promote sealing or are uncertain of how they stand on the issue), that are either overtly or inadvertently judgmental of the sexuality of original mothers, or regard them as just some heartless woman who abandoned her child in a third world country and who see themselves as rescuers. The ones who talk in terms of being “forever families waiting for their beloved son to come home” before the adoption is completed, before the original mother has relinquished. The ones that get upset, angry and litigious when extended family members say they want to raise the child, and the adoption falls through (yes I’ve heard this one online!). The ones who tried so hard to have children of their own and went through body grueling fertility treatments and at the end of the day decided to adopt but wanted to make sure it was as much their own as they could make the child. If you have never met these types online, consider yourself very lucky. These people do exist, and not just in small numbers. One should ask, why are sealed records still so prevalent in so many places, if you presume that most adoptive parents are on the scale of how you place your adoptive parents? I’d say, because the majority of adoptive parents aren’t on this level. I’m not railing against the attitudes of your adoptive parents, but the ones who do seek to fully replace the original mothers by making sure she is as erased and replaced as far as possible.

        An infant may or may not be in suboptimal nutrition at the time of adoption and it’s certainly commendable to source human milk if the child is dire condition, whether by donor or wet nursing (either by acquaintance or if the a mother is capable) but not all adopted children fall into this category.

        I have no issue with bonding, that’s ideal, that’s what’s meant to happen. I have an issue with the poor way a child is often transitioned over to APs care. Which is to say, very little transitioning, and more of a cut and paste job. Completely understandably, bonding can be a longer process in adoption, and I think should proceed at a pace the child is happy with, or else it is either forced bonding, or slow/non-bonding on the part of the adoptive parent.

        I have no information to say whether breastfeeding delivers more profound bonding or if it just reinforces it. I tend to think it just reinforces it, but to maintain bonding it needs other reinforcement. I don’t know how bonded I felt toward my wet nurse as an infant, but as an adult I don’t feel an urge to go seek her out like I felt about my original family. If someone happened to introduce her to me I’d thank her, but I don’t think I’d feel any profound bond just because because all subsequent contact ceased. Maybe I would, but that’s unlikely to be put to the test. Since I see bonding as complex and dependent on ongoing reinforcement in other areas, from a bonding perspective I personally see little merit on trying to suckle a child on induced lactation since it’s flow is reduced to what was quoted by someone else as being about 30% of a post-partum flow (which I’d surmise probably feels like an unsatisfactory feed). I guess you could swing that if you bottle fed the child first so they were satisfied and then let them just satisfy their sucking instinct, but seriously, could bonding just happen with other kinds of contact with less pressure on everyone to either produce or to suck in a time frame that suits both parties? However if an adoptive mother is already flowing like Niagara Falls and the infant wants to suckle, then I don’t have a problem.

        I will reiterate, my level of creepiness comes from disturbingly common attitudes from PAPs and APs which I have listed above, should they want to engage in induced breast feeding to make parenthood as much like the “real deal”, not with the list of conditionals you put up.

      • Lauri Lee

        Oh, I so totally forgot to mention the crème de la crème of adoption attitudes that smack of motherhood appropriation. Ones that use labour analogies about the adoption process.

        Like adoption is a medically recognised pain condition sometimes requiring an epidural….

        This is where babies come from, they are “born from the heart!”

        “11/11/11- LABOR PAINS!!! YES, WE ARE IN LABOR!
        After starting the adoption process in May of 2004, we would have never believed that this adoption could have been this long and painful. Our requested 0-12 month old is now a beautiful 4 year old. We are so excited to bring her home and to be her forever family.
        We received our official email telling us to pack our bags, book our flights, because it is time to finally bring our daughter home! ”
        http://www.born-from-the-heart.com/p/china.html

        Snarkurchin – I’m afraid of the above quoted blog, but maybe you could have a field day with it…

  29. I am surprised ElaineP I had no idea g-d ever did anything wrong! I have been led to understand that a ‘gestational carrier’ was serving g-d’s purpose! How could I have been so wrong?

  30. Oh and by the way from what I understand no adoptive mother who induces lactation ever flows like Niagra Falls, the flow is the problem so the baby has to be bottle fed as well to ensure adequate nutrition.

    • Lauri Lee

      Yeah, the if she is flowing like Niagara Falls was more of a comment about if the a-mother still had flow from a pregnancy prior to adopting.

  31. You wrote, which I think summarizes what you’ve been telling me in comments:

    “should they want to engage in induced breast feeding to make parenthood as much like the “real deal”

    I think this is what I was trying to say:

    Is there any way an adoptive parent could breastfeed and NOT imply they’re doing it to make their parenthood as much like the “real deal”?

    • Lauri Lee

      Mei-Ling

      Well, if you are telling me your mother breastfed you and was not engaging in an erase and replace mentality about motherhood, which is what I’m hearing loud and clear, then yes, you’ve answered your own question. You don’t need me or anyone else to validate that, that’s something you know and you can tell anyone straight that’s what happened to you and that you feel positive about that. Because I didn’t know that all your hypotheticals were a living instance of a situation, it came across as a wishful scenario. It’s always nice to hear from adoptees who are saying something went right for them in adopto-land.

  32. @Lauri Lee, ugh! I hate blogs that play music (and celebrate international adoption)!

  33. Anne

    Just be honest, adoption as a whole repulses you, so anything an adoptive parent would do to try to bond with the child repulses and infuriates you, not just breast feeding.

  34. [monotone] Oh no, Anne’s onto me.

    You’re wrong, as it happens. As it also happens, I don’t owe you an inventory of what I do or don’t like about adoption, a defense of my adoptive family, or the time of day. Just be honest, adopted people speaking their minds as a whole repulses you….

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