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Breastfeeding Fosterlings?

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 
So I am reading a lot about fostering and seriously considering taking in a baby. My question is do I try to relactate and breastfeed the baby? Is that even legal? I looked up the info for the county I live in and the amount of money paid out for fostering wouldn't even cover diapers and formula! Of course my baby uses cloth diapers and I could probably reuse them on the foster baby to save money. Also cloth is way better for the environment! The thought of getting up in the middle of the night to fix up formula instead of rolling over and nursing doesn't sound that great. Oh is co sleeping okay with foster babies? I hadn't even thought of that till now. That probably isn't legal for safety reasons huh? Wow there is so much I still need to figure out. Is it acceptable to ask friends, church, and community for hand me downs for the baby? Maybe I would qualify for WIC because the baby is a foster baby? With my own I didn't qualify because I made too much money.
post #2 of 65
It depends on your state's laws. My state does not allow foster breastfeeding or co-sleeping. A baby can sleep in a crib in the parent's room until age 1 then has to move to her own room or a room with another child. A child here automatically qualifies for WIC so that pretty much covers your formula needs.
post #3 of 65
Its not allowed here. It would creat a very unfair situation with both the baby and the parents if a foster mother breast fed a baby then the parents get things back together and the child goes back home. You wont know when you get an child esp an infant how long it will be or if the grandparents/relatives will be taking the baby. Rarely here do you get a infant that you know from day one will be TPR. Until TPR their parents still have rights.

Yes foster children are qualified for WIC.
post #4 of 65
This has been our experience with our state agency and Im sure each state and possibly counties could have differing policies.

Our state does not allow breastfeeding by a foster parent or co-sleeping. Fostering is just that, you are a foster parent. Even if you are on the way to adoption, in legal sense the child is still a ward of the state , kwim?

Breastmilk is considered a "bodily fluid" and although the risk of transmission is somewhat low the state is still could be liable. So I can see the problem it could pose to a agency for a foster child.

In our case children under 2 are allowed to room in with foster parnets as long as they have a seperate bed/crib/sleeping area appropriate for age.

In most states their is funding such as WIC or even possibly food stamps that are given to foster children so that is something you would need to talk to the SW about. In our state a foster child would automatically qualify for WIC, Food stamp subsidy, and medicaid plus what ever the agency stipend/benefits that the FP receive.
post #5 of 65
Yup, breastfeeding by a foster parent is not allowed here and could be quite unfair to the baby should they go back to a non-bfing parent. WIC covers formula. Mixing it is super easy! If you fill bottles w/ water ahead of time and let them sit on the counter (or nightstand), all you need to do is scoop in the powder, shake, and feed! Here, we get a separate reimbursement for disposable diapers. Our foster babies were cloth-diapered, but we did need sposies for visits. Co-sleeping is not allowed & again may be unfair to the baby in the long run. However, imo, there is a huge difference between sleeping/snuggling w/ a baby at times during the night, or for part of the night, as they may need, and breastfeeding a foster baby. You should absolutely ask your church and friends for hand-me-downs! People love helping kids in need, esp when they have extra stuff they are longing to get rid of! We also got lots of stuff from FreeCycle when we said we were foster parents.

There are many other things to promote attachment like babywearing and snuggling, both of which are allowed!
post #6 of 65

I wouldn't..Even if it was legal it isn't your baby and in the end it would be the baby to suffer...

I am not saying that because of the fear of bodily fluids either..I don't consider breastmilk a bodily fluid myself...But I can see why the term is there espesially if the mom is a drug addict or something but.....anyhoo...

I don't foster myself..Went through the classes but never took a placement except my own granddaughter...When social services got involved in her care I was able to get my lawyer right on top of things and I was able to keep her in my home..But if I wouldn't have they would have taken her to foster care..She was 2 1/2 months old...And if a foster parent would have breastfed her I would have been livid....Again not because I think it is gross or unnatural but because the foster parent isn't that child's parent and has no right to make such a decision.If a foster parent had made such a personal decision out of their desire to give my granddaughter what THEY think is the best nutrition regardless of anyone else's opinion or feelings where would that have left my poor granddaughter? Trying to get used to a botte and find a formula she would take? Because that is how I fed her.She wouldn't have understood why she was going through such a big change AGAIN in her little life and probably would have wondered what the heck is happening in her little life?

I believe in breastfeeding 100% and I believe in Adoptive Breastfeeding 100%...I breastfed my own adopted son...I put him to the breast for the first time when he was 15 months old..I haven't adopted my granddaughter yet...So it never occured to me to breastfeed her..Had I adopted her as an infant yes I probably would have breastfed her..But until adoption happens she is not my child..She is my granddchild..And I have no right to do this..Same with being a foster parent..I know that the child attaches and you attach but in the end it is still someone else's child until adoption happens...


When I took the foster parent classes I remember the workers/teachers being very blunt the very first class...I am sure it upset alot of people...But they said...

WE want to make this clear to you..While you will be taking care of these children in your home like your own children..They are NOT your children..They are someone else's children and we are only careing for them until they can go home.

I remember a couple walking out of the class after this statement because they couldn't deal with it...But it is the truth..That is why I am not fostering at this time myself...I would have a hard time with letting the children go..So I will wait until I figure I am ready...


So I encourage you to read all your state laws about fostering and following them even if it feels unnatural to you...(breastfeeding,cosleeping ect...)...Because the reality is these kids mostly go home...But one thing you can give them that the state does allow that they will remember for a lifetime is your love and your time...Now that is a gift for a lifetime...





Quote:
Originally Posted by trekkingirl View Post
So I am reading a lot about fostering and seriously considering taking in a baby. My question is do I try to relactate and breastfeed the baby? Is that even legal? I looked up the info for the county I live in and the amount of money paid out for fostering wouldn't even cover diapers and formula! Of course my baby uses cloth diapers and I could probably reuse them on the foster baby to save money. Also cloth is way better for the environment! The thought of getting up in the middle of the night to fix up formula instead of rolling over and nursing doesn't sound that great. Oh is co sleeping okay with foster babies? I hadn't even thought of that till now. That probably isn't legal for safety reasons huh? Wow there is so much I still need to figure out. Is it acceptable to ask friends, church, and community for hand me downs for the baby? Maybe I would qualify for WIC because the baby is a foster baby? With my own I didn't qualify because I made too much money.
post #7 of 65
I think CA may be the only state that allows bfing. I'm not even positive about that, but I think so. And it may differ by the county or agency at that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by luv-my-boys View Post
Our state does not allow breastfeeding by a foster parent or co-sleeping. Fostering is just that, you are a foster parent. Even if you are on the way to adoption, in legal sense the child is still a ward of the state , kwim?
In my state, we have a straight adoptive division where the children placed from there have a goal of adoption. During the 6-month mandatory live-in period, they are still legally wards of the state. There is a case in court now about the parents rights to religiously exempt the adoptive placement from vaxing (and in this particular case, the adoptive parents and birth parents are related--and both birth parents want the same exemption and have documented that). So when my 12 day old daughter came to me from the hospital, bfing wasn't allowed. Since it's the state and we've learned that ANYthing can happen--no matter how iron-clad the case--we knew not to even try.

The reality is that breastfeeding that child and then having them 1) leave you as their primary caregiver; 2) leave the other secure things that they know by sight, smell and sounds... crib, room, routine; and 3) then adding bfing on top of the other loss... When you see it from that perspective, how could you want to have them endure that? It's hard enough.

Kids don't die on formula. Is it ideal that a child is bfed? Yes. I nursed my own for almost 5 years. I'm very pro-bfing. I am also pro-reducing-trauma in a life that is filled with enough of it already as long as it's not going to cause more harm to the child.
post #8 of 65
Unless you KNOW the baby is placed with you for adoption and is TPR'd I don't believe it is morally right or legal to breast feed a foster child. Most bio parents love their children and often they lose their children to the system because of addiction, poverty or lack of parenting skills. All of these circumstances are tragic for BOTH the children and the bio parents and IF the bio parents receive the support, resources and guidence they need many who are determined to reunite with their children CAN overcome the odds. Not all bioparents are heartless, abusive monsters-many are just troubled and in pain themselves. If you can imagine yourself in the place of a mother who desperately loves her child and is working hard to turn her life around for them, imagine her pain and anger at the thought that the foster mother who is supposed to support her bond with her own child is actually undermining it by doing something so intimate as breastfeeding. If someone-say a babysitter or nanny whose job it was to care for my child when I cant were to put her breast and body fluid into my childs mouth I would FREAK! Words could not express the rage I would feel! As the foster mother you are not the mother no matter how much you love the child. Not until TPR has occurred should you do anything but support the bio parents relationship no matter how difficult or how frustrating the bio parents behavior may be. Just my 2 cents.
post #9 of 65
It is not legal to BF a foster child, nor would it be appropriate or ethical, IMO.

It is not legal in my state to cosleep with a foster kid, either.

In my state, FKs qualify for WIC automatically, as it is based on the kid's income, not yours. Formula and baby food was free for us.

Although I nursed my bio kids and loved it, mixing the formula wasn't horrible. And it was nice to be able to let my other kids and DH feed the baby, too. Make lemonade.

I encourage you to do a lot more reading and thinking and learning. I know babies are pretty hard to come by in most places, so this may be a moot point.
post #10 of 65
Our CW (and agency) is very liberal with some things, like you can co-sleep with you foster babies here, but breastfeeding is not allowed.
I agree with some others here, it wouldn't be right anyway.
post #11 of 65
Thread Starter 

such great support here

wow I am so glad to have so much awesome support from great moms and foster moms here at MDC. Just here at the very beginning stages of running through my head what fostering might intail. when I posted this thread I was mostly thinking about stretching a buck to make it possible to take in another baby. also what would make my life easy and what would be environmently sound. I think I have the heart of one of the Mongolian ( I think) breastfeeders from an article I read in mothering. I obviously have a lot more praying and growing to do. I never thought about how the baby would feel about things, and the baby's parents opinions. Now that I know that foster kids get things like WIC and other aid I can see how everything would be covered! Thanks for all the heartfelt replies!
post #12 of 65
It is true that in most states, breastfeeding foster babies is considered illegal. Babies have been removed from homes when social workers have found out that foster mothers were breastfeeding. Other families have been given stern warnings. And some families breastfeed their foster babies without consequence.

I disagree, though, with the general sentiment on this thread that breastfeeding a foster baby would be so disastrous, aside from the potential legal consequences (i.e. if the baby were to be removed from the home for this reason alone). I think perhaps that some of the fear comes from the way breastfeeding is viewed in our country, as being something that should be kept private, done discreetly, or something that might gross people out due to the inappropriate intimacy. Why has our society become one that would see feeding someone else's human baby human milk as potentially "unethical," while feeding someone else's human baby cow/soy milk is just fine? Back in the day, when wet-nurses were common, no one would have blinked an eye at the idea of a lactating woman breastfeeding a baby whose mother was unavailable at the time.

The families I know of who have breastfed their foster babies have not exclusively breastfed them. They have made sure that the babies were comfortable taking bottles and drinking formula, so that if the babies were to suddenly move to a new home, they wouldn't be without a familiar source of nutrition.

And if, as some seem to have implied, breastfeeding would intensify the bond between foster mother and baby, I say all the better! What foster babies need is to bond with their foster parents. To form strong attachments to their caregivers that will enable them to continue to form strong attachments to other people in the future. I do not agree that the loss of a baby's foster mother would necessarily be more devastating if the baby had been breastfeeding. It is a loss that will be devastating no matter what. And the better attached a baby is (whether he/she has been breastfed or bottle-fed), the more willing and ready the baby will be to attach to his/her new caregivers.

It is true that as foster parents, you do not have the same rights to make choices for your foster children that you do with your biological and/or adopted children. You can't decide to take a vacation without getting permission first. You can't hire a baby-sitter without having the sitter go through a background check. You can't always make the medical decisions that you would choose to make. But, for the most part, you CAN choose to feed your foster children the food you would like them to eat. I fail to see the difference between offering a whole foods diet to a child who is used to eating processed food, and offering breastmilk to a baby who would otherwise be drinking formula (this metaphor IS NOT meant to compare processed food with formula, but rather to point out that foster parents change the diets of their foster children all the time). Yes, these are the kinds of choices that parents make for their own children, but parents of children who are in foster care are not there to make the choices about what foods their kids are getting in their foster homes, and thus it becomes the duty of the foster parents.

For the record, I did not breastfeed our newborn foster baby during the brief time he was with us. I was too scared (for a variety of reasons). And because our foster baby had been breastfeeding with his mother before he came to us, I was the first one to offer him formula. When he moved on to his adoptive home a couple weeks later, I deeply regretted my decision not to nurse him at least a little. I wished that I would have been strong enough to give him all of myself, to offer him everything I had to give.

It is a complicated issue, to be sure. The legal component certainly cannot be ignored. But, legalities aside, I really fail to see how breastfeeding any baby could be harmful (of course assuming that the breastfeeding woman and baby are healthy).

Lex
post #13 of 65
Thread Starter 

nicely said

thank you lexbeach for adding a nice opposing opinion to the norm. it's great to hear all kinds of thoughts!
post #14 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by lexbeach View Post
It is true that in most states, breastfeeding foster babies is considered illegal. Babies have been removed from homes when social workers have found out that foster mothers were breastfeeding. Other families have been given stern warnings. And some families breastfeed their foster babies without consequence.

I disagree, though, with the general sentiment on this thread that breastfeeding a foster baby would be so disastrous, aside from the potential legal consequences (i.e. if the baby were to be removed from the home for this reason alone). I think perhaps that some of the fear comes from the way breastfeeding is viewed in our country, as being something that should be kept private, done discreetly, or something that might gross people out due to the inappropriate intimacy. Why has our society become one that would see feeding someone else's human baby human milk as potentially "unethical," while feeding someone else's human baby cow/soy milk is just fine? Back in the day, when wet-nurses were common, no one would have blinked an eye at the idea of a lactating woman breastfeeding a baby whose mother was unavailable at the time.

The families I know of who have breastfed their foster babies have not exclusively breastfed them. They have made sure that the babies were comfortable taking bottles and drinking formula, so that if the babies were to suddenly move to a new home, they wouldn't be without a familiar source of nutrition.

And if, as some seem to have implied, breastfeeding would intensify the bond between foster mother and baby, I say all the better! What foster babies need is to bond with their foster parents. To form strong attachments to their caregivers that will enable them to continue to form strong attachments to other people in the future. I do not agree that the loss of a baby's foster mother would necessarily be more devastating if the baby had been breastfeeding. It is a loss that will be devastating no matter what. And the better attached a baby is (whether he/she has been breastfed or bottle-fed), the more willing and ready the baby will be to attach to his/her new caregivers.

It is true that as foster parents, you do not have the same rights to make choices for your foster children that you do with your biological and/or adopted children. You can't decide to take a vacation without getting permission first. You can't hire a baby-sitter without having the sitter go through a background check. You can't always make the medical decisions that you would choose to make. But, for the most part, you CAN choose to feed your foster children the food you would like them to eat. I fail to see the difference between offering a whole foods diet to a child who is used to eating processed food, and offering breastmilk to a baby who would otherwise be drinking formula (this metaphor IS NOT meant to compare processed food with formula, but rather to point out that foster parents change the diets of their foster children all the time). Yes, these are the kinds of choices that parents make for their own children, but parents of children who are in foster care are not there to make the choices about what foods their kids are getting in their foster homes, and thus it becomes the duty of the foster parents.

For the record, I did not breastfeed our newborn foster baby during the brief time he was with us. I was too scared (for a variety of reasons). And because our foster baby had been breastfeeding with his mother before he came to us, I was the first one to offer him formula. When he moved on to his adoptive home a couple weeks later, I deeply regretted my decision not to nurse him at least a little. I wished that I would have been strong enough to give him all of myself, to offer him everything I had to give.

It is a complicated issue, to be sure. The legal component certainly cannot be ignored. But, legalities aside, I really fail to see how breastfeeding any baby could be harmful (of course assuming that the breastfeeding woman and baby are healthy).

Lex
Thank You Lex for that beautiful post
It is so very important for children to grow deeply attached to their caregivers that they may experience it over and over again throughout their lives, and especially I think for those children potentially going through many transitions in their lives. And however we can facilitate that in ways that feel good to us as caregivers is what we ought to be doing imho, which of course will be different for each of us.
post #15 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissinNYC View Post
It is not legal to BF a foster child, nor would it be appropriate or ethical, IMO.It is not legal in my state to cosleep with a foster kid, either.

In my state, FKs qualify for WIC automatically, as it is based on the kid's income, not yours. Formula and baby food was free for us.

Although I nursed my bio kids and loved it, mixing the formula wasn't horrible. And it was nice to be able to let my other kids and DH feed the baby, too. Make lemonade.

I encourage you to do a lot more reading and thinking and learning. I know babies are pretty hard to come by in most places, so this may be a moot point.
I think there are situations where it would be very ethical and beneficial...think of a temp placement where the birth mother was breastfeeding and would like to continue when she gets her baby back.
post #16 of 65
Thread Starter 
sounds to me like this might be a subject worth taking a poll about?
post #17 of 65

hmm

What about pumping and bottle feeding?

Would that help with the not-crossing-the-ethical line argument? That way the baby wouldn't be tramatized (hopefully) when back with the birth family if they only bottle feed?

And that way the baby gets a better, healthier option than formula?

Just a thought...
post #18 of 65
It's not ok to feed an untested bodily fluid to a foster child. If it was found out, then you'd likely loose your license (and the child would have to be moved.) It's not worth it. Formula is not the enemy. It's not. Foster kids have lots of strikes against them, formula really isn't high on the list.

I'm a big supporter of breastfeeding (though i've never done it,) but foster care isn't the place for it (in most situations.)
post #19 of 65
If my baby ever goes into foster care, I will beg the foster mom to nurse her until I get her back. I'd rather she nurse from someone else, then forget how to nurse while she's gone. There are many many reasons for temporary foster care where breastfeeding (with the mother's permission) would be a wonderful thing. If a single mom without local family is hospitalized temporarily....her children go into foster care....there are other temporary situations like this as well. And I think, with the mother's permission, it would be a wonderful thing. If I ever become a foster parent I'll look into getting the blood tests done to be approved to nurse if it's requested (I live in CA where this is possible).
post #20 of 65
Those types of temporary foster placements are rare. And I "think" CA is the only state that allows foster mothers to breastfeed. And it might not even be allowed state-wide.
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