Birth Without … Me! {A Story of Adoption and Supplemental Nursing}

I had NO water breaking, NO contractions, NO C-section, NO vaginal delivery, absolutely NO pain whatsoever; and yet there had been a birth. My daughter was born and needed a tube-feeding right away.

Only it’s not what you think. It wasn’t for medical reasons. She was perfectly healthy. My baby and I were meeting each other for the first time. It was late at night. I was on an adrenaline rush and was not going to sleep. It’s a good thing too … I’d be awake for hours!

This was an adoption. She was the adoptee. I was the adoptive mom.

Although I’d not been pregnant, I had chosen to experience everything a mother does, from eating for two (smile) to adoptive nursing. It was NOW time to feed her.

Acting Like a Mom

My first decision as a mom was to nurse her at my breast with the aid of a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS), a small tube-feeding system. A close, personal friend was my inspiration as she had done this with her adopted son.

I’d had plenty of time to prepare myself thanks to my Lactation Consultant, Karen Evon.

Karen contacted the hospital’s maternity and nursery teams ahead of time and prepared them for my adoptive-nursing. After birth, I was given a private office with a chair and promptly set up shop with my Igloo ice chest of breast milk. The nurses were curious and supportive, each one coming in to look over my shoulder or ask questions and offer words of praise or encouragement. Sixteen hours later after logging about 5 feedings, with the necessary legal papers signed, our daughter was discharged and we were on a plane headed home.

It Takes A Village

Four friends were pregnant and delivered during the time we waited for our baby to arrive. Generously, they’d offered to supply and freeze breast milk for our long-awaited baby. I affectionately called them my ‘Milk Moms’. Their donations filled my refrigerator’s freezer section with little storage bags of breast-milk.

We all bonded. One of those mothers delivered a day ‘ahead of me’ and I put her breast-milk to use first since our girls were closest in age. There was even colostrum to share. I rented an electric breast pump, a double pumper. She was relieved to have it when her milk came in and from that day on, produced enough for twins!

My husband played a huge part, granted, quite a bit different from the norm.

In addition to all the regular newborn tasks, twice a day he’d make a ‘milk run’ for that liquid gold. Later he would thaw out the little 2-3 ounce bags of that motherlode. I would put the SNS on like a necklace. The little bottle would hang upside-down like an oversized pendant, the small feeding tubes securely taped down. Voila! We were in business. When she wasn’t feeding, I would comfort-nurse her anytime she needed me, on-demand.

Mother and baby, we were connected

I was able to experience so much during those first, wonderful months. At nine weeks, I was stunned and completely thrilled to observe a droplet of milk coming from ME! I ran yelling through the house in disbelief! I immediately phoned Karen and she was at my house in no time. We were ecstatic! Before the birth she’d told me that producing was possible, but encouraged me to focus on the bonding and closeness instead, and gratefully I had.

Well, there in my living room, we were witnessing icing on the proverbial cake! The calendar declared it was Mother’s Day weekend. There couldn’t have been a more life-affirming moment for me. In less than 24 hours, my parents, grandparents, siblings with their spouses and children would be arriving to help me celebrate with a Baby Dedication at church.

Karen made arrangements to attend my daughter’s next paediatrician appointment. It was during that visit, after placing her on the scale before and after BREASTFEEDING, that the weight calculations showed I was producing about 30% of her intake! So amazingly sweet! The doctor wrote the astonishing notes in the chart.

Karen published an article about my experience soon after. I continued to breastfeed my baby until she was 16 months old.

That was in 1987.

The Present, With Presents!

Today, my daughter is a mother to two beautiful children, my grandchildren; a girl and a boy, homebirths, the last one, a feature of your Birth Without Fear blog entitled, “Beautiful (Surprise) Breech Home Birth” on October 9th, 2012. I am so proud of her and am enjoying this new phase of life as a grandmother.


  • Connie

    What a beautiful and amazing story. My daughter also adopted and nursed her daughter for about 18 months. Good for you for getting your story out there—Congrats on a beautiful family!

  • emma

    Tears to my eyes! What a beautiful experience for you, your daughter, your family. 🙂
    I love seeing your dedication and the dedication of your friends to nurse.
    Thank you for sharing!

  • Shakeeta W

    How awesome/amazing is this story!! You’re a wonderful mom for going to those lengths for your daughter in a not-so-pro-BFing era (I’m the same age as she & I was not BF). I know all that love just spills over into your grandmother role too 🙂

  • Ariel

    I was so excited to see the title “Birth Without … Me! {A Story of Adoption and Supplemental Nursing}” on FB. I am always quick to click on the BWF stories and read about the amazing births, but just now I think they could have clocked me at lighting speed. My husband and I have been married and TTC for 6 years. We have always known we will adopt (my husband is adopted and so is my dad and aunt), but also, I have always wanted to experience birthing and BF. After I read your story, I feel like I can still have that when we are blessed to be able to adopt our children. I have only ever heard of SNS one other time, and to be honest, I thought I read it wrong. This was fantastic and I can not wait to share this with the DH! I do have to say, my favorite picture is number 5! The three of you sitting there while you BF is one of the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen. This picture is so inspirational and beautiful, and I can not thank you enough for sharing your story and pictures with BWF. Congratulations to you on becoming a grandmother, and of course, congratulations to your daughter on her newest bundle. I can go on and on, but I know I need to cut it short. 🙂 Thank you again.

  • Becky

    I’ve been nursing my son, who was adopted at birth, for 28mon and counting, using the SNS each and every time. I love reading your experience. Would love to hear it from your daughter’s perspective (i.e. her feelings as she became aware of how unusual it was for you to nurse her).

  • Teglene

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful story! It is great to “meet” one of the women who paved the way for my daughter and me! I am currently breastfeeding my adopted daughter. I’m going to add a link to your story on my Breastfeed Your Adopted Baby article.

  • amanda

    Such a tender story! I am crying over here! Thanks for sharing! I will be sending a link to my friend who is currently waiting to adopt.

  • Emma Rose

    Wow. I had no idea it was possible to produce milk without having given birth! I had also never heard of SNS—but how brilliant! I have thought before that it is unfortunate that adoptive moms have to miss out on many of the benefits of breastfeeding, but little did I know they don’t have to!
    I am currently considering a career as a lactation consultant, so this is definitely something I will be looking into more! I’m in awe!
    Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful, moving, and informative story!

  • Mom

    It brought back wonderful memories of sharing in the awesome experience that first week you brought this treasured gift home. Your choice to invest your life in the nurturing of this miraculous creation of God is the best. You are an exemplary mom and God’s gift to these two grand-babies.

  • Kristin W.

    So beautiful! Your journey sounds amazing! I am almost in tears. I loved reading this. Thank you for putting this up. It is so encouraging and wonderful to read. <3 Much love to you! and your daughter grand babies!

  • Elizabeth

    Incredible. I would say that about a mom doing this today-but in 1987, unbelievable. Congrats to you and your daughter and thank you for sharing.

  • Corissa

    So encouraging. I have had a hospital birth, home water birth and hope to adopt. I’ve always wanted to nurse my future adopted babes. Your story- Amazing! Beautiful! Now I am determined to nurse ALL my children.
    God bless you and thank you for sharing your story.

  • Irma

    Wow! You are a pioneer that allowed myself and so many other adoptive moms to get the information that we could nurish and bond with our babies at the breast <3 Thank you! I adopted my daughter and third child and nursed her for 4 1/2 years 🙂

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