Our first daughter was biological. I had the privilege of nursing her and really enjoyed that time. It wasn’t painful or frustrating for me. Overall, it was really something that I enjoyed.
So when we adopted Callie, I tried to nurse her. I felt it was what is best for her. And, honestly, she would have done it, but it was me. I couldn’t get my milk production up. So, formula-fed she became. I researched the very best formulas and used what I felt was top-of-the-line. By the time Micah came along, though breast milk would be my preference, he drank formula and has grown strong and smart. He’s not damaged. Life is good. However, I don’t think I’m the only adoptive mom who has struggled with what to feed your newborn. That’s why, when I saw this article, I was moved.
But it’s more than just the fact that she was sending breast milk to her child’s adoptive parents. It’s way more than that. She already made a decision based on what she felt was best for her child. She found a family and decided that this family could provide what she could not. She experienced loss for what she felt was a much greater good. She already did all that. And most people would say that what she did is enough. Kaleena endured a long pregnancy, took care of that little baby (now named Raylie), and placed her greatest gift in someone else’s arm.
She decided she could do more. Kaleena talked to the adoptive parents and said she’d like to provide her breastmilk to little Raylie. For months, she has been pumping, freezing, and shipping her milk for Raylie.
It’s an incredible gift in and of itself, but when you think about what that all entails, it’s even more self-sacrificing.
- Time: It takes a lot of time to pump!
- Comfort: Pumping is not the most comfortable activity.
- Physical Side Effects: After pumping that much, she now has to wean herself. As anyone who has breastfed knows that weaning can be very uncomfortable as well.
- Emotional Side Effects: It seems that Kaleena feels good about this decision, but not all birth mothers may feel the way Kaleena does. For some, it may be very difficult each time she pumps her milk. It may trigger memories that are difficult to relive. For some, that is healing. For others, they may not want to go there.
This isn’t right for every birth mother. I’m not trying to declare it is. For some, it could be incredibly heartbreaking. But for Kaleena, it was healing. It was a way for her to connect with Raylie when she was on longer physically there.
And what I loved best of all in the entire article is when Kaleena states, “They have told me that we are family now. They say that I will always be her mother, and that they are appreciative of the gift of life I have given them.”
What a beautiful portrait of open adoption.