Importance of Babywearing an Adopted Child

Babywearing can help develop the parent-child bond with any baby, and it is an important tool in the adoptive parent-child relationship. It is especially important in adoption to develop that child-centered attachment that reassures a child that their cries will be heard and their needs answered. The physical closeness that babywearing brings helps to develop those attachment bonds that become a parent-child relationship even when the parent did not give birth to the child.

Disruptions an adopted child may have experienced can result in the child having difficulty building a trusting relationship. If the adopted child has been through trauma, abuse, or other disorienting situations, attachment disorder can be severe. Babywearing is one of the ways that child can be held close, talked to, and reassured that their parent loves them and will care for them. A baby carrier makes that physical closeness easier.


Babywearing for Bonding

Not all babies and children are the same. Especially when your child has had experiences out of your control or even outside your knowledge before you came together, you don’t necessarily know what your child brings to the relationship. Who is this? Babywearing doesn’t just help your child. The closeness can help you learn more about this new person in your life. Your physical closeness can give both of you the opportunity to become familiar with one another, to develop physical and emotional familiarity. Beyond familiarity, you become attuned to one another as you begin to flow together through understanding patterns, moods, and cues.

Babies need to feel attached to you. Some may wonder if holding a baby close all of the time makes the baby more clingy. On the contrary, if babies can see and touch you when they want to, they are reassured that you will be there when they need you. They will be more confident as it comes time to explore on their own knowing they can leave and come back any time.


Stay Connected

Touching, talking, smiling, and patting are all continuous when a parent wears a baby. The consistency bring reassurance that is especially important for an adopted child. The child learns that this is the adult who is there, who will be there, and who is her parent. The bond develops over time to help an adult and baby become parent and child.


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Adoptive Breastfeeding Is Worth the Effort

Breastfeeding as bondingAdoptive mothers can and do breastfeed. Often they can lactate and nourish a baby, and almost always they will succeed in comforting a baby. As a matter of fact, this experience can be an important way a new, adoptive mother can bond with a child. Woman can become mother and baby can become her child through this experience.

Just talking about the fact that an adoptive mother can breastfeed makes it more likely that more will. Our exposure to possibilities outside our experience triggers our “Ah-ha!” response and encourage us to ask not whether we can but HOW we can.

It takes determination and preparation to succeed in breastfeeding an adopted baby, but the benefits to mother and child are well worth it.


How Can You Make It Work?

You need to prepare yourself in at least two important ways: get information and stimulate lactation.

As with so many other parenting issues, it really helps to talk to those with experience. Find out from your local La Leche League Leader whether someone locally can help you. If you can’t talk to anyone face to face, seek out online support. Those who have been where you are going are your best resource.

Stimulation milk production. You can do this by pumping for 4-6 weeks before the baby arrives. The trouble with this advice, of course, is that it isn’t always clear when an adopted baby will arrive. If an adoption falls through, it can be even more discouraging if you are producing milk. So, this is a difficult one to know when to start, but it is important to lactation success that you try.

You can also use lactation inducing herbs or drugs (galactogogues) such as fenugreek, milk thistle and goats rue. Or you can use medications, hormones, or other supplements.


Is Breastfeeding an Adopted Baby Always Successful?

This depends on your definition of success.

Most adoptive mothers who breastfeed are able to bond with and comfort their baby.

Not all adoptive mothers are able to lactate, though most are. Fewer are able to produce enough milk to supply all of a baby’s nutritional needs, but that is certainly done. Experts say, set your expectations at a reasonable level then work to get there. And, push further.

Any breastmilk is better than none. Don’t add anxiety to the mix. Set out to find the bonding experience, and you might build the nutritional experience as well.

You might also choose a supplemental feeding system.

I often said that nursing my children was the lazy way of feeding. Breastfeeding an adopted child is definitely not the lazy way. This is a relationship that is chosen, a relationship that takes work and dedication to be successful by any definition.

Is it worth the effort? Absolutely. The health benefits of breastmilk are undisputable for any baby. The relationship that any mother builds with her child is worth the effort.


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