Fostering-to-Adopt and Breastfeeding - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 50 Old 10-04-2007, 05:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

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#2 of 50 Old 10-04-2007, 05:28 PM
 
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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.
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#3 of 50 Old 10-04-2007, 05:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

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#4 of 50 Old 10-04-2007, 07:13 PM
 
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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.

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#5 of 50 Old 10-04-2007, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks!

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#6 of 50 Old 10-04-2007, 08:28 PM
 
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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.
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#7 of 50 Old 10-04-2007, 08:36 PM
 
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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.

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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#8 of 50 Old 10-04-2007, 09:36 PM
 
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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.
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#9 of 50 Old 10-05-2007, 12:30 AM
 
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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.
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#10 of 50 Old 10-09-2007, 11:05 PM
 
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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

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#11 of 50 Old 10-10-2007, 07:01 PM
 
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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.
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#12 of 50 Old 10-10-2007, 09:55 PM
 
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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? :

mdcblog5.gif   Liz mama to DS 10, DSS 9, DD 6, DS 3, DD 2 , Aquila- dec 19th 2009 died at my homebirth, and....welcome Willow born 9-16-10 (9 weeks early)  nut.gif
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#13 of 50 Old 10-10-2007, 10:10 PM
 
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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.
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#14 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 10:29 AM
 
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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.
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#15 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 10:30 AM
 
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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.
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#16 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 10:43 AM
 
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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.
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#17 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 12:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#18 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#19 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#20 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 12:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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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#21 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 02:05 PM
 
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Here's a link to the Texas Administrative Code. I don't have time to pinpoint the licensing regs for you, but they shoudn't be too difficult to find. Then you need to get a copy of whatever CPS policies exist for foster parents, because that plays into it too.

I guess I'd be extremely hesitant to start a nursing relationship with a child who might leave, just because you never know how suddenly that may happen when you're a foster parent. But I wouldn't hesitate at all to give a foster child ebm.
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#22 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 02:16 PM
 
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I really have no clue, but are you allowed to give another child a bodily fluid like breast milk? Do you have to get it tested and approved first?
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#23 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 02:26 PM
 
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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.
In the county where I have fostered under two different agencies (the state as well as one private agency), a CW has a broad, sweeping ability to remove a child from a particular foster home based on his/her feelings about whether the home is meeting the child's interests. I know this all too well, as my dfd was moved five times by the time she was six months, at least two of those times (in my view) unecessarily, before she came to me.

I am EXTREMELY cautious about pushing the envelope by asserting particular rights with CW. They just hold a tremendous amount of power.

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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#24 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 02:33 PM
 
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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.
In some ways I agree with you, and in some ways I am not so sure. It just reminds me a little too much of 15-30 years ago, when foster kids were moved to a new foster home everytime they started to get attached to foster parents. The fear was that if they got attached, it would make it so much worse for the child if s/he has to leave. Of course, over time we learned this was TREMENDOUSLY damaging for kids...causing intense attachment disorders with associated brain damage.

We're not talking about something so extreme, but I do tend to think along the lines of the poster who 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."

That said, I think the worst possible thing that can happen is for the child to be moved unecessarily. So I personally am very, very, very cautious about this type of thing. If somehow I got "caught" breaking the law or just doing something the CW felt wasn't in the best interests of the child (and as shown here, s/he could certainly reason it out where it was not), this kid could lose me. Is it worth it to take that risk? I personally couldn't go that far. It's a weighing of risks and benefits.

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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#25 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 02:41 PM
 
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'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.
Not true.

I have foster-adopted one child and am in the process of foster-adopting a second time. Reunification is *not* the only possiblity of the child leaving.

I believe it is very important to understand this going in, because it can be heartbreaking. I know firsthand.

Relative placements are given priority above foster placements, except in some very specific circumstances. So if a relative comes out of the woodwork a half year or a year down the line, and they pass a homestudy, it is entirely possible your child will go to a relative placement. This is actually more common that you might think.

I nearly lost my ds to relatives twice. This was totally unexpected. At placement, the only suitable relative had denied the placement. I was told there were no other known relatives who could care for ds. A month or two later, I walked into the DCFS office with ds for a visit with his bmother (who did not usually show up to visits), and the SW broke the news that his maternal grandmother who previously denied the placement had changed her mind and they would move ds in two weeks. I could not have been more shocked!

The maternal grandmother ended up changing her mind again the day placement was to be made (!!), but as a part of her reversal she struck an odd deal with the state in which ds was to have unsupervised weekend-long visits with her until a paternity test was done. She wanted to maintain a close relationship with ds just in case the named father was the father and his family wanted ds. She felt strongly that they would not be an appropriate placement for ds even if they could pass a homestudy, and she wanted to be able to argue in court that it was better for ds to go to her. So then we had those visits to deal with.

With the paternity test, we nearly lost ds again to a paternal birth relative, but (1) her ability to pass the homestudy was in question, and (2) she met our family and felt we were the best place for ds. But it took a couple months to get to that point, and in the meantime, ds could have been sent to live with this relative, or the maternal grandmother could have stepped back in.

I have gone to hell and back again, and I get nervous when anyone doesn't walk into this with their eyes wide open.

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#26 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 03:24 PM
 
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How wacko! I guess that just confirms that we can't do foster care while our own children are still young.
With this kind of thing, it varies so much by location and who you are dealing with...you really can't base anything off anyone else's experiences.

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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#27 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 03:37 PM
 
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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.
I guess I see it differently. Clearly, any baby who is going to be separated from his/her birth/firstmom and then separated from his/her fostermom is going to suffer huge loss. Yet, as we all understand, attachment is a very good thing for babies. It is much better for the baby to attach to the foster mom and then have to leave the foster mom than to never have attached at all. There is nothing harmful about breastmilk or breastfeeding, and I believe that breastfeeding is in the best interest of all children (assuming that the breastmilk is free of disease and drugs, and that the child is not allergic to breastmilk) when it's possible.

You seem to imply that a nursing relationship would create a stronger attachment to the foster mom. I'm not sure that that's true (I think it is entirely possible for an equally strong attachment to be formed in the absense of breastfeeding), but if it were true then it would be a reason to breastfeed foster babies, since the stronger the attachments they form are, the better. That's why we all practice attachment parenting, right?

If, for some reason, my babies were ever removed from my care and placed in foster care, I would absolutely hope that they would be breastfed.

When we were fostering a newborn baby, I was still nursing one of my two-year-olds, and I could have easily breastfed our foster baby (who had been breastfeeding with his bio mom prior to being taken from her). I chose not to, thinking that it would make the inevitable separation harder for ME. After our foster baby left, I was so sad and I realized that I actually wished I had breastfed him because at least then I would have known that I'd given him everything I could have while he was with us.

You certainly wouldn't have to worry about imprisonment if caught by a social worker. I think the absolute worst case scenario would be that your foster children would be removed from the home. And that is extremely unlikely. All I've ever heard about is foster moms getting a "warning."

Lex

Mindfully mothering SIX kids (ages 4, 5, 7, 8, 11 & 11) in a small house with a lot of love.
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#28 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 04:06 PM
 
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I do see some of your points but I think we will just have to agree to disagree.

When my daughter came to me it was a huge loss/adjustment/seperation on so many levels. SHe was in a new country, with new smells, new faces, new noises... completely out of her comfort zone. Food was the only thing she had control over. And it was a struggle that took many months of patience and forming a bond. She wanted to eat but on her terms, holding her own bottle and would not make direct eye contact. Gradually over time her guard wore off and she would allow me to snuggle her more, help her hold the bottle, and make eye contact. But it was a process that we both went through.

I honestly feel if she had been breastfed by her fostermom she wouldn't have eaten at all and the first few days would have much harder on her. She could have even possibly looked to me as the reason she wasn't getting nursed. In helping her to adjust more smoothly we bought the max number of cans of formula she was used to, washed the same two bottles she came with over and over, and kept rotating the one nipple she would drink out of. We kept this up for over a month after she was home. It was the one thing that was familiar, constant, and predicitable for her and I'm so thankful her fostermom didn't make it any harder.
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#29 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 04:21 PM
 
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I am EXTREMELY cautious about pushing the envelope by asserting particular rights with CW. They just hold a tremendous amount of power.
I think this is true in many jurisdictions. You have to be careful. That said, I don't know why anyone would have to know that you were feeding a child ebm. How would they know, if you didn't tell anyone? I still picked up the WIC formula, and used the ebm as a supplement, because I didn't have enough to avoid formula altogether.
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#30 of 50 Old 10-11-2007, 04:22 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lexbeach View Post
You certainly wouldn't have to worry about imprisonment if caught by a social worker. I think the absolute worst case scenario would be that your foster children would be removed from the home.
That is an awful, horrible, terrible, devestating worst case scenario for the children. My kids who have been in multiple homes have all suffered immensly for it.

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And that is extremely unlikely. All I've ever heard about is foster moms getting a "warning."
Not for this (as far as I know), but for other hot button issues, foster parents have been known to lose licenses. Most of the time, it is a warning, but even a warning goes on the permanent record of the foster parent. In some smaller offices, word does get 'round among SWs when a foster parent is "a particular way" and I know here, anyway, some foster parents just don't get placements unless the office is incredibly desperate.

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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