Dear Mountain Mama,
It's definitely a very personal decision. There are lots of different ways of preparing for adoptive breastfeeding, both physically and emotionally. I can tell you the choices I made -- this particular combination worked for me.
I waited for nine months for a baby after all my paperwork was set. I had a couple of failed matches during those nine months.
My adopted son is now nine years old.
While we were waiting, we of course didn't know if we would be successful before the time limit we had set for ourselves. So I felt it was important for me to protect myself emotionally from the devastating disappointment I would feel if I were pumping but no baby ever came.
I took estrogen and progesterone according to the protocol, but did not pump or take domperidone while I was waiting.
When the agency called with what sounded like a high likelihood baby, that was due within a couple of weeks, I took the plunge. I stopped taking the hormones, started taking the domperidone, and started pumping. Two weeks later, when the baby arrived, I was getting a total of one teaspoon of milk per day with the pump.
When the baby arrived (newborn), I stopped pumping and nursed him with a Lactaid supplementer.
When the baby was four months old, before we started any solids, we weighed the supplementers before and after nursing for a week, and compared the amount of supplement he had ingested with the estimated amount of milk a baby of his age and weight normally takes. From that calculation, we were able to conclude that I was supplying half of his nutrition. I was very pleased.
From the start, my goal was to have a close relationship with my baby. I knew that some mothers set goals for themselves to try to nurse without a supplementer. I did not set that goal for myself. For us, the whole adoptive breastfeeding thing was a huge success.
One thing that helped me was that I started the domperidone with a very low dose and increased very slowly with the help of a compounding pharmacy. This way I hardly felt any side effects from the domperidone.
We called the domperidone my Dom Perignon. I know that it helped my milk production, because a couple of times I ran out, and while I was waiting for the package to arrive in the mail, my production noticeably went down, and then recovered when I started taking it again.
I won't say that nursing with the supplementer was effortless -- but it was certainly worth the effort, and it got easier with practice.
As you are preparing to adopt, I recommend that you read a lot about breastfeeding in general, and about transracial adoption, if that's something you are interested in. If you are thinking about adopting an African American baby, then read about African American history, read African American literature. Immerse yourself, educate yourself, so you can be a bridge for your child to his or her people. Because sooner or later, that is how he will see people who look like him -- as his people. You may never feel that way -- but you can certainly help him with connections and understanding.