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Fostering-to-Adopt and Breastfeeding

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 
In our state, there's a program where people who want to adopt a baby have a chance of doing so by taking in an infant who's been taken from the mother at birth, usually due to drug use.

From my understanding, the mothers are given about 6-12 months to get their lives in order, and if they don't the state moves quickly forward with the adoptive process.

Is there any foster mother who's decided to breastfeed the infant for all (or at least some) of the feedings? Does the foster-care program in your state have a policy on this?

I've sometimes thought that when my own children are older, I might like to foster-to-adopt, and I was wondering about the possibility of my actually having a nursing relationship with my adopted child just as I do with my bio children.
post #2 of 50
Honestly I don't know but I would assume nursing would not be allowed until the adoption is complete because there always is the chance of reconcilliation and until the adoption is finalized they are a ward of the state.
post #3 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Starr View Post
Honestly I don't know but I would assume nursing would not be allowed until the adoption is complete because there always is the chance of reconcilliation and until the adoption is finalized they are a ward of the state.
So if it takes 6 months to a year to finalize the adoption, I guess I could try to initiate breastfeeding then?
post #4 of 50
When we were placed with our DD I had asked the social worker about nursing her and she said to go for it. I induced, but it didn't really work. I did nurse her with a Lact-Aid and formula and she did get some breastmilk. The pump hardly worked for me at all, but I do think the baby got some. She was a preemie, so it was extra important for me to do this for her. Our situation was a little different (and our county seems to handle cases much differently than the rest of the planet). DD was removed at birth and placed into foster care for 2 months before we were called. There was no reunification offered to birthmom, birthdad was not in the picture, and no relatives were given the option. There is a lot of CPS history within this family and our DD was baby #7 born to this birthmom (who CPS refers to as "repeat offenders") Because of all of these circumstances it was a very black and white case and really no chance of her placement falling through, which is why I got the OK to induce lactation and nurse her.

Check with your SW's and see what they say. You might wind up with a very closed minded SW, so be prepared for that. If you know the baby is not put into a reunification plan, I don't see any reason NOT to at least try it.
post #5 of 50
Thread Starter 
Thanks!
post #6 of 50
It's going to vary widely. some cwers will be too weirded out by it. some states will have a policy. some agencies will have a policy even if the state doesn't.

my experience has been that it is frowned upon. for one, you are risking have to wean abruptly if the child does return home or to a relative, and this could be traumatic for both of you. two- if the infant wasn't removed at birth, it is impossible to know what the child was exposed to at home. unfortunately in some situations breasts are highly sexualized and could be involved in an abuse situation. and then it has the potential to be a trigger for the child. additionally it could also be considered a public health issue as foster parents aren't routinely screened for the kinds of diseases that could be transmitted through breast milk.

i have seen foster parents told they could pump and bottle feed. this obviously doesn't speak to the health concerns. but again, all states, agencies and cwers are going to respond differently.
post #7 of 50
In most places, breastfeeding in foster-adopt would not be a legal possibility. Until termination or relinquishment of parental rights occurs, birth parents usually maintain a number of legal rights over their children's care. If you want to cut a foster child's hair, for example, the child's parents would need to give permission. If you want to travel with your foster child out of state for a vacation, the child's parents would need to give permission (or you'd need a court order overruling the parents decision due to the best interests of the child). If you have an older child who wants to get his or her ears pierced, that too would require parental consent. It stands to reason then, that a feeding decision like this may require parental consent.

Few parents of children in foster care want to feel they are being most wholly "replaced," and it would be a very hard consent to obtain no matter how uninvolved or lousy a parent is in their child's life. I have been amazed countless times how completely apathetic some parents have been toward children in my care...until I ask for *anything.* I have recently spent five or six months trying to *trim* my dfd's hair (which is in very bad condition), and it has been pretty much an impossibility. For her birthmother, as far as I can tell, it is a power trip. You can safely bet-- save for total abandonment-- most parents would be very hostile about someone asking to breastfeed their child.

As I understand it, laws on this vary from state to state. I was told by another member here (this has been discussed on these boards on a number of occassions) in WA state that there is a provision for breastfeeding a foster child with consent of parent. I did not inquire into this very deeply, as I sensed a VERY STRONG mentality against it at DCFS (remember, these folks *have* to keep parental reunification in mind even when it appears a case is heading to adoption), and I felt by questioning it further, I would have jeopordized our foster care license.
post #8 of 50
I would NOT breastfeed unless I was absolutly sure the child would be adopted by you. If they end up going back to the bio parents then they may be so used to being breastfed they may not take the bottle and may not take formula. It would be in a way a diservice to the child to breastfeed them.

Alos it may be ilegal and you may get your license to foster taken away or even arrested. Please check with your stat about this.

I know here in Quebec we can not evn be naked with our foster children.

I know you want to be close to your child,but you could try bottle nursing or something similar.
post #9 of 50
We've had 4 babies now, and all of them have had a reunification plan. The first baby we took I thought I might get to bf--they told us at placement it would be a long-term, likely adoption, placement. Well, that was on SAturday. I decided to go with formula until I could talk to a sw, and by monday there was a relative who wanted to adopt (and she did).

However, we are not strictly Fost/Adopt. We're concurrent planning, meaning we're open to anything.
post #10 of 50
I have a friend who breastfed her foster babies (she was hoping to adopt, but three babies came and went before she was able to adopt foster baby #4). It is not legal here, but she did it anyway. She also bottlefed the babies, and used formula in a SNS when she was breastfeeding (she had never been pregnant and was not able to produce a full supply), along with donated breastmilk. For her the breastfeeding relationship was more important than the fear of having to end it if the baby had to leave. She never regretted breastfeeding any of the babies who she didn't get to adopt. She breastfed her adopted baby for 3 years. She always used a bottle when the social workers came to visit, and would often suggest that the social worker feed the bottle.

There is a section on the adoptive breastfeeding resource website: www.fourfriends.com/abrw/ for foster-adopt parents who are breastfeeding. I found it very helpful when we were fostering babies a couple of years ago.

Lex
post #11 of 50
In Arizona, you may nurse a foster child, even if a reunification plan is in place. You have to check the licensing and foster home regulations and policies for your state. If they don't prohibit it, you can do it, no matter what your CW says. I fed my foster daughter ebm thanks to my friend who volunteered to donate for her, and I am so so happy I did.
post #12 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aliviclo View Post
In Arizona, you may nurse a foster child, even if a reunification plan is in place. You have to check the licensing and foster home regulations and policies for your state. If they don't prohibit it, you can do it, no matter what your CW says. I fed my foster daughter ebm thanks to my friend who volunteered to donate for her, and I am so so happy I did.

how do you check your regulations? i am in texas- my CW said no. and get this she even told me i couldnt nurse my baby (1 yr old) in front of a foster child. she said maybe i could use a blanket? :
post #13 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by lexbeach View Post
For her the breastfeeding relationship was more important than the fear of having to end it if the baby had to leave. She never regretted breastfeeding any of the babies who she didn't get to adopt. She breastfed her adopted baby for 3 years. She always used a bottle when the social workers came to visit, and would often suggest that the social worker feed the bottle.
I really hope this doesn't sound mean, but I don't get this. It really sounds like she put her need to breastfeed ahead of the child's needs. I guess as a foster parent (now an adoptive parent) who road the roller coaster of possibly losing a child, I feel that it is our job to minimize the hardship on the child. Creating a nursing relationship to have it end abruptly seems the opposite of that.
post #14 of 50
I agree with pumpkin. I mean she the fster mom valued the nursing relationship more than the possibility of losing the child... it really isn't her place to decide. SHe is supose to be thinking of the best interest of the child not herself. I also can not imagine someone having their children placed in fostercare and once they are reunited having the child attached to nursing, without the mothers approval. I would be furious, beyond furious.
post #15 of 50
Thank you, pumpkingirl. From my experience on the other side of this (adopting a child who was in foster care) I will just say I am so glad she wasn't breastfed by her foster mother. She had enough loss to deal with, and at least she was able to keep her bottle. It was like a lifeline for her.
post #16 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diane B View Post
Thank you, pumpkingirl. From my experience on the other side of this (adopting a child who was in foster care) I will just say I am so glad she wasn't breastfed by her foster mother. She had enough loss to deal with, and at least she was able to keep her bottle. It was like a lifeline for her.
You know, it is funny that I wasn't even thinking of that. I was actually thinking of my own selfish desire to nurse my biological son. At first, it was about his own well being, but two months in it was about my own view of myself as a failure for not being mother enough to breastfeed.

But my adopted daughter was also in foster care for over a year. Her bottle is still the world to her. At three and a half, we still put her down with a bottle of water that she cuddles while going to sleep. Leaving her foster home sent her into a deep grieving state, it would have been so much worse if she had been breastfed.

But I do feel that I should add that I am not opposed to breastfeeding a foster child in the right circumstances. But I do think those circumstances are pretty limited.
post #17 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by imnotsupernanny View Post
I would NOT breastfeed unless I was absolutly sure the child would be adopted by you. If they end up going back to the bio parents then they may be so used to being breastfed they may not take the bottle and may not take formula. It would be in a way a diservice to the child to breastfeed them.
Of course, if the bio mom keeps her supply going by pumping, that might not be such a problem. But I see what you mean!
post #18 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by liz-hippymom View Post
how do you check your regulations? i am in texas- my CW said no. and get this she even told me i couldnt nurse my baby (1 yr old) in front of a foster child. she said maybe i could use a blanket? :
How wacko! I guess that just confirms that we can't do foster care while our own children are still young.
post #19 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pumpkingirl71 View Post
I really hope this doesn't sound mean, but I don't get this. It really sounds like she put her need to breastfeed ahead of the child's needs. I guess as a foster parent (now an adoptive parent) who road the roller coaster of possibly losing a child, I feel that it is our job to minimize the hardship on the child. Creating a nursing relationship to have it end abruptly seems the opposite of that.
And yet this foster mom also gave her foster-children bottles, so the ones who ended up going back to their bio parents weren't stuck not knowing how to get milk from a bottle.

From my understanding, if you're fostering to adopt, you get first priority if a child in your care ends up being placed for adoption. So the situation mentioned by a pp, where she adopted children from a previous foster home, wouldn't be happening anyway, at least not in my case.

'Cause I'd be fostering-to-adopt -- so any baby nursed by me, wouldn't be moving on to another foster home: the only possibility might be reunification with the birth mother. And I sure wouldn't breastfeed if that seemed like more than a very remote possibility.

Of course, I see the point about needing the bio mom's permission, which most would be unlikely to give. I agree that in many cases it would be a bad idea to breastfeed -- but in situations where the mother clearly isn't showing signs of working hard to get her baby back, it seems a shame to deprive the baby of human milk, which has such tremendous health benefits, especially for babies whose health might have been damaged by drug-using mothers.

I also liked what a friend told me once on this subject: she said a foster-baby shouldn't be deprived of all opportunity to bond with someone during infancy, just because the bio-mom "might" get her act together and decide she's willing to do what it takes to get her baby back. Yes, there are other ways to bond besides giving the breast, but what about the rights of the baby to be mothered in this way?

I agree that where there's a strong indication the bio-mom's heart is in the right place, and her baby means the world to her, the foster parent should never do anything to get in the way of that baby's bond with her bio mom. And according to my foster-parent friends, social workers are pretty good about passing along this kind of information to the foster parents (about the bio parents), especially the ones who want to adopt, to give them some idea of what to expect.
post #20 of 50
Thread Starter 
Of course, I'm sure I wouldn't do it if it could result in a prison-term. That wouldn't be good for me, my family, or any foster-babies who got attached to me.
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