Why I Let My Adopted Preschoolers Nurse

May 6, 2013


A few days after we arrived home from Ethiopia as a family of four, I was sitting on the couch with one of my daughters when she stuck her hand down my shirt. I thought she was being playful at first, but it soon became clear she was reaching for my breast, wanting to nurse. I didn’t know what to do. My initial reaction was to gently pull her hand away and redirect her; after all, there was no milk there, and my four-year-old daughter is obviously not a baby. But I stopped myself, and here’s why…

Before my husband and I landed in Ethiopia, I made a list of questions I hoped to ask the girls’ birth family (if we had the privilege of meeting any). One thing I wanted to know was whether the girls were breastfed. Amazingly, on our second trip, we found ourselves sitting across from a birth relative in the home our girls had lived in before being brought to the orphanage. We learned they were mostly not breastfed: Their birth mother couldn’t produce enough milk, so they were primarily fed on hospital-grade formula.

When my daughter was reaching for my breast that first time, it occurred to me that she may have missed this early bonding experience with her birth mom. Whether that’s true or not, both my daughters would have seen babies on the breast all around them in Ethiopia. In their birth culture, breasts are for children, and they represent the nurturing connection between mother and child. Babies are carried on their mothers’ backs until they’re older toddlers, and children are openly breastfed — often up through five and six years old, and even older in rural areas. (And, in fact, there’s even communal breastfeeding in rural communities, where female relatives nurse other children.) Nursing at your mother’s breast is a big part of what it means to be her child.

Although I knew we’d be getting siblings, I didn’t know how old our children would be until we received a referral. I was aware that some adoptive mothers had successfully induced lactation to feed their adopted children, but since I’m not one to ingest unnecessary chemicals or meds, I didn’t want to do that. (If I’d already been nursing a biological child, I certainly would have breastfed an adopted child.) I had planned to seek out some breast milk for nutritional reasons, if we found ourselves with a baby or two, but since we ended up with four-year-old twins, the issue seemed moot.

Yet there I was, with preschoolers who wanted to nurse — both of them at first, but mainly the daughter who regressed the most. She needed to be treated like a baby. And so, on that first day, I took a deep breath and let her nurse. Then I prayed that none of my neighbors would choose that moment to walk past our living-room windows.

Since then, I’ve bared my breast on many occasions, though it usually only lasts a minute or two and has become less frequent now. One of my daughters still wants to nurse at times, though, especially when she’s upset.

Recently, during my mother-in-law’s week-long visit, my daughter had a small regression episode. She eventually climbed into my lap and indicated that she wanted to nurse. My mother-in-law was finishing her lunch across the table and I momentarily panicked. What would she think? After I explained to her what was happening, she said, “You’re the mom — do what you think is best.” (She’s great like that.) So out came the boob, and less than twenty seconds later, my daughter had snapped out of her funk and was on her merry way. This happens every time, and it tells me that all she needs is that experience of connection to make everything right in her world.

In adoption, a child’s primary attachment is severed, and a new process of attachment must begin with new parents. (Often they’ve attached to other caregivers in between, too.) Whether a child is a toddler or preschooler when she comes home, you have to approach her in many of the same ways you would an infant. Attachment is an emotional and psychological bond, but it happens through the body: physical closeness, eye contact, holding, carrying, cuddling, co-sleeping, tone of voice, feeding, meeting needs on demand, and many other gestures of intimacy and care-taking. It can be exhausting — and weird to do some of this with older children — but I’ve now seen the fruits.

I have to admit, I would find this terribly awkward to do in public — and I probably wouldn’t, given that I’m not actually breastfeeding, and my daughters are now almost five. But I’ve tried to put my daughters’ needs and our attachment first, and to let go of any cultural biases or discomforts I have. I know that the more my daughters feel secure and attached, the less they’ll want to connect this way — but for now, I let their needs lead my actions.

I hesitated to write about this at first. I haven’t discussed it with many friends or family members, and here I am telling the world. (Blogging is weird like that.) But I share this story in the hope that it might help another adoptive mom who faces the same situation, and to add another voice to the breastfeeding community’s efforts to normalize the various ways mothers nurture and bond with their children. I think it would have been fine to redirect my daughter elsewhere (and, in fact, I gave them both bottles for a while when they came home, which is highly recommended), but I went with my gut on this, which is all a mom can do. I wouldn’t expect another mom to make the same choice, but I’d want her to know it’s okay if she does.

So: What do you think of this? If you’re an adoptive mom, did the issue come up? How did you handle it? If you have children by birth, did you struggle with whether to breastfeed, and for how long?

UPDATE 11/22/13:  It’s now been six months since I wrote this post about comfort-nursing my daughters, and it continues to be the most widely-read entry on my blog, which surprises me — in part because breastfeeding has been such a tiny part of my life with my daughters. Their request/desire for nursing was sporadic and short-lived: Shortly after I wrote this post, it was rarely happening, and now, just over a year after they’ve been home (and are extremely well bonded), they don’t ask for it anymore. I know with certainty that in our case, this was all about the attachment process and I’m very glad I set my own discomforts aside and followed their lead. I also know this is still a very hard thing for others to imagine or understand — and that’s okay. I’m grateful, however, to have incredibly supportive family and friends, and the overwhelming majority of comments here have been supportive and kind. Thanks for reading, and please come visit us at SlowMama anytime!

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Image: B

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1 Beth Yamamuro May 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Having breastfed two biological kids until they were ready to stop (three years and a few months in both cases) I totally support you in this, and also sigh in advance at the flack you’re likely to catch. You mention it indirectly (“let go of any cultural biases or discomforts I have”) but the focus in our culture on breasts as sexual objects causes many (most?) people to be unable to see this in any kind of objective way.

It’s heartening to me that you stuck to what you felt was right for your daughters in spite of cultural biases and that you are sharing the decision publicly. I hope it will put at least a small crack in the hard shell of a few closed minds.


2 Zoe Saint-Paul May 6, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Thanks, Beth! Yes, I knew I was opening myself up to some possible flack here, but decided to write about it anyway for the reasons I mention.


3 peri May 6, 2013 at 9:19 pm

you are an amazing woman and I admire your choice to carry on…i breastfed 4 biological children til they self weened…and it is an amazing experience…I don’t care and never have cared what people think about
breastfeeding, where when how long….every momma is different and you do what is right for you and your little girls….


4 Anne Holland May 7, 2013 at 12:02 am

Good job, Zoe! As a mom of 9 (nursed each one) I applaud you, for understanding the needs of two little girls, and having the guts and the sense to meet their needs. Well done!


5 Loretta May 7, 2013 at 12:52 am

I have four biological children I breastfeed my last two until they self weened. My son was 5, and my daughter was 51/2. I think she only stopped because she went to school. I didn’t care where I was or who was around. Congradulations to you for nursing your adopted twins at the age of 4 when you brought them home. I would have done the exact same thing.


6 Whozat February 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Hijacking a bit to say that I’m currently breastfeeding my 5 1/4 yo daughter, and it’s good to hear about other kids that old who are still nursing!

7 Linda July 20, 2014 at 10:57 pm

I also have four biological children, and breastfed them all. The first three were weaned at ages 3.5, 2, and 2. At the time I knew well that this was considered “extended” breastfeeding, unusual and a little odd, and that some people consider it dysfunctional or abusive. After letting my fourth child self-wean at 5 1/2, I understand now that my other three simply were not ready and would have benefitted greatly (as would our relationship) if they’d welf-weaned. I understand the shock and discomfort some people feel when seeing non-infants breastfeed, as I too was a little taken aback when I first saw a two-year-old breastfeeding, after having zero other exposure to breastfeeding my whole life. Regardless, the criticism is wrong and ignorant. These people simply don’t know what they’re talking about, having no direct experience with it themselves, feeling only what they’ve been culturally conditioned to feel, which has nothing to do with how the natural world as well as the human spirit best operates.

8 Melissa May 7, 2013 at 10:02 am

Thank you for sharing . I have 2 bio children and 2 adopted children . I am nursing my new baby right now and my girls who are 11 and 12 have a sadness that nursing is something they missed out on.

Your mothering instincts are so powerful and beautiful . What a gift of unconditional love and support.


9 Linda Povey August 6, 2013 at 8:02 am

Hi there, we will be on our way to get our two year old daughter in China October. I loved your post! Like you, I don’t want to take the chemicals to induce lactation but I am going to bottle feed her and encourage her to nurse at my breast. Since she’s been in an institution, she’s only 13 months old developmentally and hasn’t had a mother to attach to. I think that anything I can do to make up for these deficits is worthwhile, including cosleeping and nursing. Thanks for your honesty! Some of the ladies here have talked about a supplemental nursing system and I’m going to look into that too! Rock on Zoe!


10 Malkah Geller October 10, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Yes, rock on Zoe, and you too, Linda! You are courageous and intelligent women who know what a child needs in order to grow up healthy in body, mind and spirit. I am now almost 66 and had my children in 1981 and 1983. My son, the second child, weaned himself after 18 months, by my daughter kept nursing until she was almost 4 yrs old. I am so glad I didn’t stop her. We have a very close relationship. Although I don’t have any experience with adopted children and nursing, I applaud what you are doing and fully support you!


11 Diane October 14, 2013 at 10:50 pm

There may be more natural things to do to help induce lactation, like using things like mother’s milk tea (herbal, not made of milk) fenugreek, and use of a breast pump to stimulate the breast to begin producing.

Another available option to obtain breast milk is going through
organizations like Eats on Feets and Human Milk for Human Babies. Those 2 organizations were how my nephew received milk for his entire first year after his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was pg with him.


12 Karen December 19, 2016 at 5:51 pm

The yeast in beer raises prolactin levels. I am still breastfeeding my 2 and a half year old, whenever I drink beer, my milk production is higher. Of course I drink non-alcoholic beer (Chausthaler amber is the best tasting non-alcoholic beer, in my opinion), the alcohol is not what increases prolactin, it is the yeast, and in fact, alcohol can negatively impact milk production. So between that and “Mother’s Milk” herbal tea and regular pumping, maybe it’s possible to start producing milk. I had to do all of the above to get the milk production started. It was a lot of work but well worth it.

13 Renee November 23, 2013 at 12:36 am

Breastfeeding a child while lactating is one thing, but when you’re not??? Um, NO! There is nothing beautiful or normal about that. They were never beat fed to begin with! Hold them close, nurture them, adding, rock, read, but to allow a child to suckle your breast for comfort? WTH???


14 Teresa November 23, 2013 at 1:05 am

To Rene, It’s people like you …[closed minded] that is the problem with our world today. I adopted my daughter when she was 2 days old, and I regret not taking the proper steps to start lactating to share this bond with her. I do not see anything wrong with what Zoe did, or anyone else that chooses to do when comforting their child lactating or not. You must be a very disconnected person for making a statement like you did, it’s obvious your mother never breast fed you. This isn’t a sexual thing you pervert it’s a beautiful and very natural way to connect with your child wether they are biologic or adopted.


15 Jill November 23, 2013 at 8:16 am

It is very sexual if there is no milk coming out! WTF is wrong with this woman? Get your husband to suck on your tits if you enjoy it that much, not a child you sick pervert!!!!

16 Susan November 23, 2013 at 11:44 am

To Teresa, we adopted our children from Romania (he was 13 months old when we traveled to get him) and Guatemala (she was 14 months old when we traveled to get her.) Our kids are now 14 and 10 years old. I remember thinking about lactating systems and how to nurse my first one because of the bonding experience, but didn’t continue to pursue it because I was concerned about how family and friends would react. Now that they’re older, I regret this. I definitely believe breastfeeding would have helped both of my children feel more secure and would have naturally bonded us. My son especially still struggles with attachment disorder and will probably always have attachment issues in all his personal relationships. There’s just no other mother/child experience like breastfeeding. We’ve done other things to help our children bond (co-sleeping, deliberate eye contact, showering together -skin on skin contact) but breastfeeding is unique. As an adoptive mother of babies, I encourage birth moms and adoptive moms to nurse if at all possible.

17 David January 4, 2014 at 8:25 am

There’s nothing perverse about this, there’s a bonding that takes place regardless of if milk is being produced or not. Zoe I commend you for giving your daughters what they needed.

18 Summer December 29, 2015 at 3:12 pm

To Jill and Renee, nursing is not just about milk. The milk in itself has benefits, but even with biological children, milk sometimes dries up before baby/toddler is willing to give up that comfort. The baby doesn’t have to be particularly old, either. My milk was pretty much gone at 18 months due to pregnancy when the WHO recommended weaning age is between 2 and 7. Nursing a child in that age range or below is simply non-sexual. Mothers are not wired to even register it sexually. I can’t speak for every mother that has ever lactated, but it’s been true for me. Late weaners who have grown up to discuss the experience report feeling warm, safe, comforted. These are feelings deeply needed by young children that have been through an adoption.

19 Cheryl November 23, 2013 at 1:15 pm

It’s very sad that there are women who do not understand that the breasts are not only for feeding but for nurturing. For feeding the soul, the mind, social and psychological therapy. Sexual stimulation is not what the breasts purpose is. Many women don’t even enjoy that part of a relationship. When you nurse (even without milk) it is not sexual in the way that you are portraying it. Obviously you have no clue about the importance of how mothers are meant to take care of their children. Even if you formula feed by bottle, you should still allow your child time at breast to receive the benefits that they can not receive from a bottle.
Those that think otherwise are the ones with the perverted minds and perverted sense of how mammals are normally supposed to connect and nurture.
We mothers are human satisfiers, we pacify, nurture, nourish at the breast and children need this whether biologically ours or not. 2.5 years through 7-8 years old. Just because you have not been educated correctly and are only using personal opinion does not mean your way is right. Start reading some studies and historical and anthropological research and you will become truly informed. Our children are more healthy psychologically when allowed to nurse a longer amount of time.


20 Georganne Hampton January 22, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Breastfeeding is about so much more then simply nutrition. It’s people like you who just don’t have a clue about the many other benefits of breastfeeding and why our country is so far down the line in health.


21 Ryan Molly February 9, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I feel sorry for “women” like you and Jill and for your children, if you even have any. It doesn’t sound like you do. I’ll pray for you that you gain compassion.

Breasts were made by God to nurture children. The average age of weaning globally is between three and seven years. Other mammals can go up into the teen years. Sure, breasts can be used sexually between a husband and a wife and that’s fine and dandy, but that’s not their intended purpose. Kudos to this mom/writer!


22 Hannerlore White August 5, 2014 at 11:29 am

I will pray for you, as well Ryan Molly.

23 Jaime Santacruz November 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Thank You for having the courage to share your story and experience. We as mothers, often forget we are in the same team. Judgement and negative thoughts are examples of the fear we face each day to make the right choice. I praise You for putting your child’s needs first!!


24 Deborah Bradford May 7, 2013 at 9:27 am

Thank you! I have a very secure adopted niece (now nearly 22) who was breastfed by my sister. Also, I’ll share this blog with a vibrant 50yr old friend preparing to adopt a 2mo old baby who’s still in a local hospital being treated with methadone and has only been in contact with the nursing staff and the birth grandfather. My friend is open to my coaching, and this is what I’ve been preparing her for-to nurture this baby as though she were her bio mom, including nursing-however that may happen.


25 Alicia May 7, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Hats off to you Mumma. I think it’s fabulous that you’re thinking and caring enough parent to genuinely put the interests of your children in the fore front of your mind, regardless of your own cultural norms. Personally I think nothing could come more naturally, but I do understand that not everybody thinks that way. BF’ing is NOT just for nutrition. Well done mumma.


26 Kelly May 7, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Given the fact that this little one was born addicted Deborah I felt it necessary to leave you a comment. If your friend would be interested I believe there are systems that will allow your friend to “nurse” however there are tiny tubes that lay with her nipple that actually feed the infant. She could use formula or purchase breastmilk which would be most beneficial for this baby especially.


27 Kelly May 7, 2013 at 1:57 pm
28 Allison May 7, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Even better than formula is DONOR breastmilk. It is NOT necessary to purchase the breastmilk and in fact, if a mom is selling her breastmilk, it is like she has something to gain, and I would worry about the integrity of the milk. We receive donor milk for our special needs baby, and also breastfeed fulltime. It is free, and I only replace milk bags for the moms and occasionally purchase tokens of our appreciate to gift to her. Please consider Human Milk for Human Babies for your state on Facebook or likewise, Eats on Feets. You can also go to Milkshare.com. We also use an SNS, and the Lact-Aid is a wonderful option for a system as well! Tell your friend her actions are commendable and baby is SO lucky!

29 Darillyn Lamb Starr May 8, 2013 at 12:13 am

And here is a link for the Lact-Aid, which is the other nursing supplementer and the one I used the most in nursing my kids. I produced a significant amount of milk, just from lots of time at the breast. One of my newborns was oxygen deprived, during and after birth and high risk for brain damage. Its especially helpful for any baby who has a lot going against him. My son is now 24, with his own little family.



30 Leah November 21, 2013 at 11:24 pm

You are an incredible mom. This is a wonderful example of true love and loving as a mother can. I nursed my son until he was 4(he had seizures) Most people didn’t know because like you I was afraid of what they would say~ but you MIL is right your the momma you do what is best. Way to Go. Blessings to you and your family :)

31 Lee Christian November 22, 2013 at 7:34 pm

I don’t have kids, but my sister is sort of like a lactation consultant (I’m not quite sure of her title) and she breastfed all 4 of her kids. So I’m familiar with the comfort it gives, because when I was watching them for her, I had no way to comfort them in certain situations. There’s just something amazing about that connection between mother and child. I applaud you for not just thinking of yourself or getting weirded out, etc. Thanks for sharing your story. Your children are very lucky.


32 Haley @ Carrots for Michaelmas May 6, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I think this is just awesome. Good for you. I think it’s a beautiful gift of attachment to give your sweet daughters and a lovely image of them choosing you as their mother.


33 Zoe Saint-Paul May 6, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Thanks for the support, Haley!


34 Kelly May 6, 2013 at 1:55 pm

I think it’s wonderful that you’ve helped comfort your children in this very special way. I’d like to think I’d do the same if K ever showed interest, but she hasn’t. (She also has almost certainly never seen any breastfeeding.) I remember reading another blog about this same topic – a newly adopted toddler wanting to nurse from her new adoptive mom – a couple of years ago, and thinking about how it would be at first an uncomfortable, unexpected experience for the mother, but in the end, such a positive experience for both. And of course, so good for attachment.

I’m so glad that there was formula available for them when their birth mother couldn’t nurse them. That is not the case for so many babies in Ethiopia, which is just terrible to think about.

Also, I love your MIL’s response! She sounds like a keeper. :)


35 Zoe May 6, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Yes, she is :-) And I’m so grateful that formula was available for the girls or they may have found themselves in an orphanage much earlier than they did.


36 findingmagnolia May 6, 2013 at 2:06 pm

“I let their needs lead my actions.” Good job, mama.

I nursed my older daughter who came home at 3 1/2. Some other adoptive mamas had written about this, and I was so grateful, because I knew to expect it. She really wanted to get milk when she nursed, and if I had it to do over again, I would have invested in a supplemental nursing system. As it was, we managed to prop the bottle next to my breast so she could suckle on both at once. It was so nurturing for her, and a way that she claimed me as her mother.


37 Zoe May 6, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Thanks for sharing your story — I wish I’d read more about this so I wasn’t so surprised by it when it happened to me! I knew people had breastfed children when they were already lactating. I just didn’t expect a non-breast fed adopted four year old to want to! But has been great for attachment.


38 Zealia Cavalier March 10, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Do you have links to places where moms talked about teaching their older adopted child to nurse? Kinda looking for a how- to guide. I see your blog is invite, do you have tips on there?


39 Jean May 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I think you made an awesome choice in nursing your daughters and sharing this. I’ve breastfed all my kids and have also seen how beneficial it is for adopted children.


40 Zoe May 6, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Thanks, Jean!


41 Amanda Mills May 6, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I am so happy you decided to blog about this subject. I nursed two biological children for 4 years and 2.5yrs. I am also a lactation consultant. When our adopted daughter came home at 2ish she wanted to nurse. It took her three months and LOTS of ergo time to trust me enough to ask. For months she nursed on and off throughout the day and always in the morning for about 45min and at bedtime for about 30min. She is getting ready to turn 4 and still nurses in the morning and at bedtime. Although there are many ways to bond with an adopted baby/child this one felt essential for us. Believe it or not I had no intention on trying breastfeeding thinking she wouldn’t remember how to suckle. We met her mother in Ethiopia and knew she had been bf for 8months but still my (kinda narrow) education said she wouldn’t remember. The experience of breastfeeding has been one of the most profound experiences in my life. Breasthealing is what I call it.
Be well! And, as always, thanks for sharing.


42 Cornelia Slotiuk May 6, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Amanda: Breasthealing…. I love that!! I may have to steal that word because in so many ways, whether you nurse a biological or adopted child, that word describes the way breastfeeding can heal both mother and child…


43 Mary Ostyn (Owlhaven) May 7, 2013 at 10:24 am

Amanda, My experience nursing my daughter who was 20 months on homecoming was similar to yours. My daughter took a month to feel comfortable enough to nurse, and then ended up nursing til she was over the age of 4. It was precious time.
She is a confident outgoing 10 year old now!
Mary, momma to 10, including 4 from Ethiopia and 2 from Korea (7 of whom I nursed)


44 jaderyan22 June 19, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Oh Mary, so nice to see you pop up in this discussion! I follow your blog and have for YEARS. I have a 4 year old and a 16 month old, both bio, both still nursing. I needed this collective pep talk with the 4 year old who is very not ready to self wean. Thank you all for the encouragement to keep it up and put her needs first!


45 Stephanie May 6, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Love this post! I am nursing my 3.5 year old daughter and the last of my milk dried up several months ago, but she still wants to nurse, usually only at night and in the morning when she first wakes up. I love how you say that breasts are for children. To me, the moment my milk dried up, I worried and had fears of it being sexually inappropriate. But that makes so much sense, in her innocent eyes they are still just a representation of love and nurturing.


46 Tiffany May 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm

This is a very sweet story, and I’m so glad you shared it.


47 Mandy May 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Tears of joy. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing your story. I am nursing my 2 1/2 yo son until he’s done, and whenever I hear parents who listen to and honor their children, it makes me so so happy, and as a doula, I will be sharing this post far and wide!


48 katy May 6, 2013 at 6:31 pm

you are awesome! good for you for listening to your heart and your daughters.
and your mother-in-law!

I am proud of you for sharing!

my four year old weaned himself while I was pregnant (he was three then) but started up again on occasion after his brother was born. That I understand. Then he stopped. But recently started again. At first I wasn’t sure because his brother nurses frequently and “needs it more”. but thats not what I really felt. I was just was confused why he needed it again. Then it dawned on me, he is seeking security in me as our lives shift again with many changes to our family dynamics (divorce) and mommy’s stress levels. I am his security blanket, I always have been…and it’s okay!


49 Jenn May 6, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Thank you so much for sharing. We hope to eventually adopt, and I’ll definitely keep this in mind. Right now, my older toddler (who weaned himself stubbornly at 11 months) has expressed an interesting in “noose” when his little sister does it. If he still knew how, I would be more encouraged to let him!


50 Cornelia May 7, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Just for info: At 11 months it’s a nursing strike, not weaning. Normally this can be solved. LLL or a lactation consultant can help.


51 Beth May 6, 2013 at 6:36 pm

As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew I would breastfeed. It was mainly about economical reasons at first, but the more I read, the more excited I became. No one in my family nursed for more than a few weeks, so at 6 months, I have been quite the rebel- but it so worth the time, the effort, and the exhaustion.


52 Angela May 12, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Beth – Just a note of encouragement here. You’ve been through the toughest part! After 8-10 months it’s really pretty easy, and at 20 months it’s just a few times a day. Good job!


53 Mishelle@LoveandButter May 6, 2013 at 7:15 pm

This was a beautiful articulation of how a bond is formed with an adopted child. My husband (who was adopted) and I plan to adopt in the future and I am looking forward to sharing the same nurture with them as I did with my biological children.
Your braveness is what really moved me, the even though there was no milk, and even though they were older. It was pure unabashed parenting at its finest!


54 Patty May 6, 2013 at 7:18 pm

YOU GO GIRL!! I am so glad you shared this. I love your sensitivity to your daughter’s needs, in spite of a culture that tends to frown on breastfeeding at all. And as a mama who breastfed for 15 straight years – tandem nursing when needed – through 6 babies, I can only smile at the tender way you are caring for your sweet girls. What a treasure you were given, to have a daughter desire that nurturing from you. So wish that my little one would have been open to that.


55 Marci May 6, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Good for you mama!


56 Suvannah May 6, 2013 at 7:55 pm

What a blessing for your daughter, that you were able to see and fullfill a need that she had. :) I wish you all the best!


57 April May 6, 2013 at 7:59 pm

What a beautiful story of love. Thank you for having the courage to share your heart and your experience. I love that you” let their needs lead your actions” … thats what being a momma is all about!


58 Vanessa Brundidge May 6, 2013 at 8:15 pm

I think this is wonderful. I hope to adopt someday and I would love to breast feed an adopted child (if he/she wanted to and needed that connection)! I’ve found it to be an incredible way to bond with my now 18 month old biological son. He is so comforted by nursing.:)



59 Alba May 6, 2013 at 8:17 pm

I’m a breastfeeding educator and all I have to say is that these girls are blessed to have you as a mother. Motherly instincts are usually right. Attachment is crucial. Bless you and your family!


60 Charis May 6, 2013 at 8:20 pm

YES! Amen! Halleluja! Currently breastfeeding my biological twins, and considering adoption one day. So happy you are listening to those mama instincts.


61 Amy May 6, 2013 at 8:20 pm

I don’t think your average biological child needs to nurse at 4, but this is freaking AWESOME!!! I have adopted children who were teens when they moved in with me. I wish there was something so simple I could have done to helped them with their attachment issues. Great idea, Mom.


62 Sara H March 18, 2014 at 7:32 pm

I am not so sure. I don’t have stats, but many children are force weaned. My girl turns 4 next month and she still loves to nurse, I lost my supply when she was just over one. It is a very strong natural instinct. She’s still on the young end of the self wean spectrum. I have been wondering for the last 3 years when she’ll lose interest…..


63 Katy May 6, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Good for you, those girls are lucky to have you!!


64 Erin May 6, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Just wanted to add another voice of support and gratitude for writing about this. :)


65 Christa Morrison May 6, 2013 at 8:27 pm

I do not have any adoptive children but I have 3 biological children. I nursed my first just a few months as she did not latch so I was exclusively pumping and the pump was keeping me with mastitis. I currently have 4 mo old twins who are exclusively breastfeed. I think what you did is AMAZING. Good job, mama. It is a shame that our culture views breastfeeding as weird, perverse, awkward, or nasty. I have heard so many different crazy remarks.


66 Laura Shum May 6, 2013 at 8:29 pm

I am a foster mom. I also have 3 beautiful daughters that I nursed. I have to say getting primarily infants one of the hardest things about taking care of them is not being able to comfort them by nursing. It would be a wonderful way to give these hurt and scared tiny people instant reassurance and security. We settle for baby wearing and lots of skin to skin! I think it is awesome!


67 Jasey Wissner May 6, 2013 at 11:57 pm

I loved the post by Zoe and I loved your comment too! I’m a new mom–my baby is six months old–and I just can’t imagine him being hurt and scared. It so good that you are able to be a foster parent and give some reassurance and security to little ones who need it so much! I would love to foster or adopt one day.


68 Crystal May 6, 2013 at 8:33 pm

You did what any mama would do. Good for you! Those sweet girls are lucky to have a mom that would go out of her way and put their needs before her own. Keep on keepin on!


69 Veronica May 6, 2013 at 8:33 pm

I think you’re an amazing mother.


70 Em May 6, 2013 at 8:39 pm

My 3 year old is finally weening (I say finally because culturally I should have forced it on her at 12 months). I’m relieved (because social pressures are always on the back of my mind) and a little sad because I didn’t realize how much I got out of it (i.e. the attachment, the bonding), but I’m comforted in knowing that it is ending naturally and that my daughter has gotten what she needed from it.

I’m all choked up! :)

Great job Zoe!!


71 Alba May 6, 2013 at 8:56 pm

My bio son just turned 4 in April and he still likes to do “nay nays” at bedtime for a few minutes, then he turns over and goes to sleep. I have left weaning to him regardless of what our society thinks. Good for you for being slow to wean.


72 Em May 6, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Thank you <3


73 Celena July 9, 2014 at 1:57 pm

When we let society dictate our actions, we become what society dictates. Good for you for not following what society dictates! I’m still nursing my 3.5 year old and while I’m ready for it to end, he’s not. Our nursing relationship will not end forcefully. He, too, will get what he needs from it. Kudos to you mommy!!!!


74 Reilly810 May 6, 2013 at 8:40 pm

My god what a beautiful touching story. Thank you for sharing with us. I loved reading this.


75 Kyla May 6, 2013 at 8:42 pm

So cool!! And heartwarming. What a great transition for your daughters.


76 Beth May 6, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Amazing story! They are lucky to have found their way to you! A wonderful selfless tribute to your commitment to them! Blessings!


77 Caitlin May 6, 2013 at 8:45 pm

My mother was adopted at the age of two. She was dropped off at my grandparents home mid-morning, her hair was cut at some point a little bit later (a part of her identity being taken away), and my grandmother left to play bridge at one in the afternoon (never missing a step in her routine). They expected her to adapt, but never made any effort to bond. She had an unloving childhood (although they were very affluent). Later, she was a promiscuous teen who entered into an abusive marriage. The only bond she has ever formed was with her children.
As a mother of two children, the first who weaned at two and a half and the second who continues to nurse at two years of age despite my milk having dried up due to my third pregnancy, I can not imagine a better way to bond and relate to your children. I applaud you for identifying their needs and meeting them although it may have caused you some discomfort. Your daughters will always appreciate your effort to make this connection and I believe that their sucessful bonding will lead to them being young women with high self-esteem and respect.


78 Tamara May 7, 2013 at 3:55 am

What a profoundly sad story about your own mother. I’m so sorry. And so glad she bonded with you and your siblings.


79 Ivy May 6, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I think you’ve made a very brave decision, and one that couldn’t have been easy, even if you do it willingly and happily. There has to be an element of feeling torn to this kind of decision. Good for you, for choosing the path less traveled.


80 Bobbi Aguirre May 6, 2013 at 8:49 pm

I am a mama of 4 grown sons, who are now daddys of my 9 “Blessings” (#10 is arriving in Nov). I believe you to be an amazing soul… So many people wouldn’t have recognized the needs of these children to Bond, to feel Connected, to become Truly and Completely yours in an instinctive way that Im sure they didn’t even understand…
I have nursed nieces, nephews, children of friends, my premature niece in hopes of giving her the fighting chance her drug addicted mother could not, others for the fact it was easier on the mama so she could enjoy some personal time, I even nursed the Midwives infant, so she could concentrate as she coached my friend who was birth at home…
I feel very privileged to have been trusted by these other mamas, and given the right to help nourish their beautiful babies…


81 Corinne May 7, 2013 at 3:13 am

Thanks for sharing this. I love hearing stories of women who nursed other people’s babies. We should talk about this more, and embrace it.


82 Zoe Saint-Paul May 14, 2013 at 10:22 am

Really neat to hear your story, Bobbi! This was so common years ago — and is still in other cultures today. It makes sense that a close relative or friend would nurse a child when a mother could not. How great you could — and would — do this.


83 martha October 13, 2013 at 9:07 pm

This really touched me. Beautiful story. You’re doing a wonderful job!


84 Melanie May 6, 2013 at 8:50 pm

You are awesome! My husband is encouraging me to wean my 15 month old and I can’t seem to explain its more then nourishment that there is a bond there. It seems cruel to me to want to break that bond just because he wants his toys back!! I love that you are putting your daughters needs first!!!


85 Sarah B. May 6, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Incredibly beautiful. Thank you for sharing and for empowering other mamas to trust their guts… wow.


86 Rose May 6, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Just curious. How did you produce milk? Did you have a baby that was already nursing?


87 Megan May 6, 2013 at 9:54 pm

She didn’t produce milk. But at 4, the necessity of nutrients is not there…the need for connection still is though.


88 Sherry May 6, 2013 at 10:06 pm

A valid question that was addressed briefly in the post. She did not produce milk and chose not to take drugs in order to lactate. She chose to nurse them for their comfort and bonding, not their nutritional needs. I like the term used in the comments. It was “breasthealing”.


89 Rebecca May 6, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I love that you did this for your daughters. I know that in our culture, some will tell you what you are doing is gross or disgusting. Let me tell you that what you are doing is BEAUTIFUL! You are giving your daughters the opportunity to bond with you in a way that is natural and healthy. Our American culture is the only culture that has sexualized the breasts. Practically every other culture believes the breast is for feeding their children. The breast truly is best, and so it is for adopted children as well.
Thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone, not only to breast feed your daughters but to write this blog. Kudos!


90 Sherry May 6, 2013 at 9:39 pm

What a beautiful, natural mom you are!! To tune in to your girls needs and not be so fearful you hide this beautiful bonding experience is reaaly listening to your own maternal instinct. I unfortunately can see people in this country passing judgements into your childcare methods. You should be appladed by every mom and hopefully one day our country will stop sexualizing our breast! You’ve done a great service for mom’s everywhere by sharing your story. Perhaps your daughters would’ve never truly bonded with your or their future children if you hadn’t taken the extra care to give them bith what they naturally needed. You gave them such a gift! Kudos to you and thanks for sharing your beautiful story!


91 Sherry May 6, 2013 at 10:11 pm

I apologize for all my grammatical and spelling errors. I hope you can read over them.


92 Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama May 6, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I’ve never heard of this, but it makes sense. Nursing is a way they bond with you.

It makes me wonder. My oldest two are weaned now — they are 5 and almost 4 — but occasionally, especially since our newest baby arrived, they ask to nurse. I have said no because of course they don’t have “special” needs like adopted children do, and I snuggle them up instead. Plus, honestly, I’m afraid they will not remember how to latch and they will hurt me. My 3 YO did a few times right after he weaned when I was pregnant. But, hmm. I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to let them try. There’s not much more time for them to even want to or be able to, and when they’re older they’ll never have anything like it again.

It’s great to allow children that bonding, and so brave of you to do. :)


93 Porschia May 6, 2013 at 10:23 pm

I’m wondering the same thing. I nursed my daughter through my pregnancy with her sister and tandem nursed for 6 months until I let outside stress and influence force me to wean her at 26months old :( since then she has asked, I kid you not every single day! It breaks my heart :( I of course snuggle her and wear her but I’ve been so torn about letting her try to nurse again! I will have to pray about it but I am so grateful for all these woman showing support of the original poster and sharing their stories and for me being inspired and finding comfort in knowing I’m not alone :)


94 M May 6, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Go ahead. It will be good for both.


95 Dare May 7, 2013 at 12:25 am

Go ahead and try. The worst that will happen is you’ll say, ” well, we tried abd one of us didn’t like it. Oh well.” Who knows? It might be amazing for you both.


96 Natalie May 7, 2013 at 1:03 am

I would totally let her try and breastfeed, especially since she is still so little. My 2 boys were 2 yr and 9 months apart, and my oldest since then tried to latch on and suckle, he’s now almost 5 and a half and recently asked to try again, of course I feel like he’s too old, lol, but I let him anyway, it only lasted a few seconds, she said the milk was nice and sweet and that was that… I think since he always sees his 2 yr and 8 mo brother breastfeeding through out the day, he just wanted to try and see what the deal was with the literally dozens of breastfeeding sessions his little brother loves so much! hehehe 😀


97 Jeanne May 7, 2013 at 9:50 am

I nursed my oldest until about 3 weeks before her brother was born. They are almost 25 months apart and she was self weaning then. When he was a few days old she hurt her hand or something and wanted to nurse so I let her try. She seemed to have forgoten how but just snuggled up for a few minutes and then got down and ran off to play. My second quite nursing at a year and hasn’t tried since but does love his snuggle time. Number 3 is nursing so I think it is very import to get in snuggles with our first little boy.
Good for you Zoe for what you are doing in putting your children s needs first.


98 Adrea VanDeventer October 12, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I say go for it!!!!! God created breasts to feed and nurture. It isn’t your fault humans decided to make something obscene out of it. Your gut it telling you to do it and that to me is God giving you a push. You got this mama! I love that this woman chose to follow her childs needs instead of her own. More parents need to learn from her selfless journey..


99 Vivian May 6, 2013 at 10:32 pm

When my mother had my baby sister I asked to nurse (at 9 years old). I latched, suckled for a few seconds, unlatched, described what her milk tasted like, and went on with my day. Nothing wrong with that. :)


100 Cheryl May 9, 2013 at 8:16 am

Vivian, exactly, nothing wrong with that at all. Your mother was very wise.


101 Cheryl May 9, 2013 at 8:14 am

Of course, it’s alright to let them nurse. Just as children who have been raised with a bottle ask for one if they see the new baby with a bottle or to breastfeed even if they never have but you are nursing the new baby. They want to know that you love them enough to give them the same kind of nurturing. Breastfeeding is more than about food. The breasts are the habitat, the nurturing place for our children and they are still in need of that nurturing even at @5-7 years old. If you tell them, “yes”, you have validated your love for them and their importance in your life and they may not try after all, they just wanted to hear you agree or they may latch for a few seconds and that’s all they’ll ever ask again, then some may go on to a nursing relationship for awhile longer (depending upon their age and needs.) Remember it is not sexual, it the way nature intended our breasts and our loving arms to be give comfort, security, immunities, etc. to our children.


102 Sandi February 10, 2014 at 3:40 am

I had my third child last June. My 5 year old daughter and 2 year old son were very interested to see me nursing and wanted to try it out, even though they were shy about asking. My husband got kind of weirded out by it but I figured they would probably just want to do it once. So I coached them both on how not to hurt me and let them try. They both got a taste of milk and decided it didn’t taste like anything special and that was it. I’m glad I let them try so they knew that they were just as important to me in that way as the new baby.

My 5 year old self-weaned at 15 months but my son was still going strong at 19 months when I got pregnant again. Because I had a history of miscarriage the doctor put me on some medication and advised me to wean my son. It was very sad.


103 Bel May 6, 2013 at 8:56 pm

What a wonderful nurturing mom you are! I think it’s lovelyl! I nursed my son for 6 years. He is a very loving and well grounded kid who is kind and compassionate. This is an investment in a nurturing relationship and the returns are massive. You and your kids are so lucky to have found each other!


104 Kathryn May 6, 2013 at 8:59 pm

This made me cry, it was so beautiful. What a wonderful mom you are!


105 Ingrid May 6, 2013 at 9:05 pm

I wasn’t able to have kids, so I don’t have any firsthand knowledge of breastfeeding issues, but I think it’s wonderful that you decided the way you did. What an insightful, generous soul you are. Thank you for inspiring us to be our best selves.


106 Zoe Saint-Paul May 14, 2013 at 10:23 am

Thanks, Ingrid. “Being our best selves” is what it’s all about, no matter our circumstances and experiences.


107 Jennifer Coe May 6, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Wonderful job and right decision!


108 Betttina May 6, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Oh, wow, this just melts my heart. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post.


109 Jessica May 6, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Maybe not all adoptive children will need that comfort. Maybe not all adoptive parents will find this logical. But that’s why this world brought you and those girls together . Because you were made to be their mother.


110 Sarah May 7, 2013 at 1:42 am

What a magnificently accurate sentiment.


111 emma May 6, 2013 at 9:14 pm

I love this. I am breast feeding my daughter, she is now 7 months and I will nurse her till she is ready to stop. You are giving your children such a gift and expressing such love. Thank you for sharing, I think what you are doing is beautiful.


112 Janine Fowler May 6, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Awesome! Thanks for sharing. That must have been a great feeling, for her to signify that she wanted to bond with you as her mother. :)


113 LW May 6, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Thanks for sharing such a lovely story.
I wish more moms would truly listen to the needs of their children.


114 Britani May 6, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Wow, Mama! Beautiful and inspiring. Many blessings to you and your family!


115 Maggie Schneider May 6, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I didn’t get the chance to read all of these comments by I wanted to applaud you! What a wonderful gift you are giving your daughters!!

Also, if you decide to adopt again and expect smaller children or babies, there are lots of ways to stimulate lactation without heavy medications :) fenugreek and blessed thistle are two wonderful herbs that help with production. Also the SNS (supplemental nutrition system) that allows the baby to drink from the breast when there’s no milk yet. The baby is getting nutrition through perhaps donor milk but no bottles necessary plus excellent nipple stimulation!

If we ever adopt, I would pursue that route as well… But for how I continue to breastfeed my two year old :)


116 Zoe Saint-Paul May 14, 2013 at 10:24 am

Really appreciate the info on inducing lactation naturally — thanks!


117 Jo May 6, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. I breastfed my two biological children until they were 4.5 years old, nursing through my second pregnancy and the two of them together for more than 2.5 years. Knowing how much my own children needed that connection for so long, I can imagine how amazingly comforting your gift was to your girls and how it helped them with their transition. It is a wonderful bonding experience that I’m glad you were willing to share.


118 jacky May 6, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Wonderful post, heart swelling story, amazing motherly emotions and a breastfeeding journey all your own. I am so glad you shared your journey with the world (I too blog…… yes it is funny like that!) Thank you for being so open minded and open worded about nursing your older adopted twin daughters. Such an amazing way to help them achieve the emotional connection that they so deeply needed. Good for you for following their lead and thank you for helping the breastfeeding community normalize breastfeeding and the positive, lasting effects nursing can create. I will share with my readers….. since we are a brastfeeding blog/community I know they will love this!

I will tell you what I tell all of my “Mummies.” Rock YOUR breastfeeding journey!



119 Kristin May 6, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Thanks for sharing your story! I always love to hear about successful and unconventional breastfeeding stories, in a culture where it isn’t the norm anymore (but should be!). I breastfed my son until 13 months and get flack for HIM being to old- so I can understand your hesitance in sharing your story. We shouldn’t be afraid to make the decisions that are best for our children out of fear for what others might think, though. Hopefully breastfeeding education will improve and over time this will be a non-issue.


120 Rochelle May 6, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Love. This. Well done Mama!


121 Tracey May 6, 2013 at 9:28 pm

This was just beautiful, I’m so glad you shared! I didn’t get to nurse my first child due to health issues on my side, but eight months ago I gave birth to twins and have been SO blessed to breast feed them both! I don’t know long it will last but I’m soaking it in while I can.


122 Nancy May 6, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Wonderful! I so felt the need to breastfeed our adopted daughter – she was 3 then. My breasts ached from my need, I wish I had. I settled for bottle in the breastfeeding position. All has worked out , but that skin on skin contact does so much. We showered together for a long time, to help form that bond.
Way to go!


123 Kasey Smith May 6, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Thank you for sharing your story. I read this at such an appropriate time. I was having a rough day and considered starting to gently wean my 19 month old.. but this inspired me to keep going and let him decide when the time is right. Breastfeeding is such a special bonding time and sometimes my frustrations get the best of me and I forget that.

My husband and I want to adopt someday as well. I’m so glad to see so many adoptive mothers doing the best for their children. Inspiring.


124 Ryan Griffin May 6, 2013 at 9:33 pm

I read this article, going “Hmmmm…” and then as I read about your daughter’s feedback, I said, “Yeah, yeah, I don’t think our society is ready for this per se, but it was undoubtedly the right thing to do for your child.” Nurse on Mama. You are an amazing soul and I believe you have healed your children from the scars of their pasts. Wow for adopting 2 children, wow for loving them so much that you nursed them even at 4 without lactating. I am proud to have read the beauty of the window into your life.


125 Bobbie Jo Colcombe May 6, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Such a moving story. If everyone who disputes long term nursing read a story like this I think they would open their minds a little more. I nursed my biological children until the age of two and received plenty of negative attention for that. You are such an amazing mama for putting your daughters needs first. It’s hard for any woman to do. God obviously put these children with a mom that was meant to be theirs.


126 Molly May 6, 2013 at 9:36 pm

I think it is just wonderful to breast babies and children. I don’t think you need to worry about doing it in public if you wouldn’t worry about breastfeeding a biological 4 year old in public.

One thing that stinks out to me, having breastfed two babies to toddlers, I know it is very unusual for a 4 year old to relearn the suckling mechanism. You mentioned two things that trigger a thought for me- you pointed out that in Ethiopia communal breastfeeding is normal and you said regarding bonding that “Usually they’ve attached to other caregivers in between, too.” This made me think, it seems entirely possibly that there was a caregiver along the way that actively breastfed your daughters. Otherwise I don’t think they would know how to do it. Well, if that’s true that is great and I guess we can only hope.

It’s wonderful that you gotten to have this experience with them.


127 Molly May 6, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I’m sorry this is full of typos, I was typing while my 20 month old went on and off and on and off the breast. Should say breastfeed, and STICKS out, and you’ve gotten.
Oh well, this is why I don’t blog.


128 Darillyn Lamb Starr May 7, 2013 at 3:35 pm

I am very touched by your story! Your instinct in recognizing your children’s need to be nurtured at your breast speaks very highly of you as a mother! Over the last 20 years, I’ve met quite a few mothers who have done the same thing, with children from all over the world who have been adopted at a later age. Suckling at the breast is a great deal more than milk, but I suspect your breasts are actually producing at least a little bit of milk when your children suckle. Even a tiny bit can provide important support to a child’s immune system.

I spent ten years breastfeeding six adopted children, born between 1983 and 1995, with greater success in some cases than others, but benefits with each. I hope you don’t mind if I use this forum to share something, which is that, while using medications and breast pumps to induce lactation can be very helpful, it is still OPTIONAL. In fact, although it was tried earlier, the use of medications, successfully, has only come within the last two decades. The most important of those medications is domperidone.

Anyone who wants to breastfeed an adopted baby, but chooses not to take the medical approach, can do so, by getting the baby suckling the breast for all, or most, feedings. Suckling is what gives our bodies the information that there is a baby who needs milk. The easiest, and usually safest, way to accomplish this is with a feeding tube device, which carries formula or donated breast milk to the baby through a tiny, soft tube, at the breast. As baby suckles, he/she gets whatever milk is coming from the breast, along with whatever supplement is needed. It works whether the baby needs a little bit of supplement, or a lot. Those who start from scratch usually start to produce drops of milk anywhere from a few days to two weeks. Milk volume will gradually increase until the amount of time spent with baby suckling is significantly reduced. There are herbs which help increase milk production, most commonly fenugreek and blessed thistle, as well as certain foods, like oatmeal and barley, which help to increase milk production, naturally. It is fairly rare to produce enough milk to provide all of baby’s nutrition by this method alone, but almost all women who have never been pregnant, and virtually all of those who have, produce at least several ounces a day, while providing the same nursing relationship as any mother has.

The supplemental device many adoptive mothers prefer is the Lact-Aid.

The other supplemental device that has been used, successfully, by adoptive mothers, is the Medela Supplemental Nursing System (SNS)

Thanks and God bless!


129 Eliza May 6, 2013 at 9:37 pm

You are a fantastic mom, parent, human, and example for those around you of options that they, as parents, can choose. Not everyone would make the choices you are making, some because of inability, some because of ignorance, and many because of fear of judgement. Someone has to open the door and let the light in, and you have done that beautifully.


130 bigdreamslittlefeet May 6, 2013 at 9:37 pm

This entry is wonderful! You are a great mama for tuning in to your children’s needs for comfort! :)


131 Tamryn May 6, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Thank you for sharing this. I love how you are trying to meet their needs and are so sensitive to things they need that may feel awkward. I went to live with my adopted family when I was 4. What you shared about needing to treat your kids like infants at times really rings true. I can see how I had needs like a baby when I went to live with my parents even though I was older… I do wish they had seen it too. Keep doing what you are doing. You sound like a wonderful mom.


132 Cornelia Slotiuk May 6, 2013 at 9:39 pm

I am so happy to read all the positive and affirming comments! It restores my hope that our culture may yet turn a corner and accept breastfeeding for the loving and nurturing act it is…
I have heard that children who are insecure or in difficult situations (like being adopted by folks they don’t yet know) will often grab or reach for a woman’s breasts. We all have the intuitive knowledge that breasts mean warmth and security and love and food. How much more your daughters needed to have those needs met by you through free access to the very act that makes you their ‘mother’! Thanks for sharing and encouraging other adoptive parents to consider this themselves <3


133 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Yes, that’s what breasts represent — they are meant to primarily nurture and provide, attaching a mother and child. It’s sad that our culture is now so far from that understanding — but I’m convinced it’s partly because we’re so detached from nature now. Thanks for your comment!


134 Stephanie May 6, 2013 at 9:44 pm

This brought tears to my eyes. You’re doing such a wonderful job! As women and mothers, we need to listen to “our” voice and parent by instinct….just beautiful. :)


135 Steph g May 6, 2013 at 9:47 pm

That is so awesome. My 3.5 yr old is still occasionally nursing…I am encouraging night weaning, but at 43 months into it, he still nurses for comfort. As long as his baby brother nurses (20 months old) he will be allowed to as well.


136 Elizabeth May 6, 2013 at 9:49 pm

I LOVE this. I have 7 month old twins that I’m nursing now and I plan to let them self wean. My husband and I plan on adopting our next child and I’m hoping that my children are on the tail end of bfeeding when that next child comes along so I can nurse he or she. It’s a special bond, and just because you’re adopting doesn’t mean you or the child should miss out on that bond!

Good post!


137 carol buchanan May 6, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Excellent article on nursing. Children seek out what they need and give us signals.

I nursed both kids in tandem and only one breast functioned. My oldest child nursed until she was four. by then i think it was for continued attachment purposes. I am now 54. I cherish the nursing years.


138 Tanessa May 6, 2013 at 9:56 pm

What wonderful Mother your children have! You are an inspiration to Mothers everywhere. Thank you for writing this. Keep up the great work Mama!! Still nursing my 19 month old daughter, I hope to make it to when she is 4!!


139 Andrée May 6, 2013 at 9:56 pm

You did the right thing. Although I don’t have adoptive children, I nursed both my bio sons until age 2. They are now teens and we are close: I enjoy them, they enjoy me, and there is a balance of love and respect in our relationships. I credit extended breastfeeding among the other (sometimes arduous) attachment parenting methods I employed those early years. Invest in their well being early on and you will reap the rewards!


140 Anrea May 6, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Just FYI, a woman doesn’t need chemicals or drugs if sh wants to breastfeed a baby. It’s possible to stimulate milk production simply by freuent latching on and suckling by a baby. If one wants to get a supply going before the baby arrives, then a double electric pump can be used for 10-15 minutes every 2 hours (most women will begin producing some milk within 10 days). Herbs an also be taken, brewer’s yeast, oatmeal, etc. A lact-aid or SNS is also very helpful to feed the baby/child while waiting for the milk supply to increase.

I was able to breastfeed my adopted son without using any drugs or chemicals–I did use a pump for a few weeks before hand, I did use a lact-aid for four months, and I did try some mother’ s milk tea, fenugreek capsules, and blessed thistle capsules (I didn’t take much and they didn’t seem to do anything–tea tasted good, though).

And KUDOS to you for doing what was best for your children no matter what society might think! There’s more to breastfeeding than milk–it has value even aside form the nutrition and antibodies. The act itself soothes and connects and aids a child.


141 Nichole May 7, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Would you be willing to email about your experience with lactation without medication? My husband and I are adopting our first child and waiting to be matched with a birth mother here in the United States. I am interested in breastfeeding, so much so that I can’t get my mind off of it. I keep coming back to it, but struggle with taking medications to produce milk. I am also on a couple medications for myself, so that comes into play as well. Anyway, I would love to talk more about your personal journey if you are willing to share?? You can contact me at cnicholelewis@hotmail.com. Thanks for sharing your own information here!


142 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I really appreciate all the info here about inducing lactation naturally!


143 Lareina May 6, 2013 at 10:06 pm

I totally love that you did that for your girls! People really need to get over the stigma that boobs are sex objects. My daughter was bf’d till over 4 and my son is 2.5 years old and still bf’d and I think I totally would’ve done the same in your situation. Good for you!


144 Liz Jordan May 6, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Simply beautiful!
The gift of love and confidence.

Great job mamma!


145 Christy May 6, 2013 at 10:11 pm

I think this is amazingly wonderful. What a mommy!
I breastfed my adopted son & I am so very glad I did. He was six weeks old when he came home & it created some awkward moments with his cradle care (foster) mother and a few strange encounters when a very white mommy was nursing a very black baby.
He is five now and it gives him a real added sense of security to know that mommy nursed him. He knows he didn’t grow in my tummy but it really means a lot that breastfeeding is a part of his babyhood that is just like his brothers and sisters.
It was difficult to relactate. Thankfully I just needed a very close relationship with a hospital grade pump to get my milk back. It was really hard emotionally and otherwise. Certainly, everyone can’t do it. It is a highly personal decision based on many factors but I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.

I think it’s just wonderful for your girls.


146 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm

I bet that created some strange moments, but good for you for plodding through, Christy. You are obviously a very devoted, in-tune mom!


147 Mame May 6, 2013 at 10:14 pm

As someone who doesn’t use nursing as purely a bonding experience, and fully believes in self-soothing techniques , I also believe each parent should do what they believe is best for their child. Not the easiest, or most comfortable. This obviously wasn’t an easy decision for you and I applaud you for going with what you think is best!! I think every mother has a right to that decision, and I am so grateful that you shared it in such a beautiful humble way. Thank you!


148 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Thanks, Mame, I totally agree.


149 Genevieve May 6, 2013 at 10:16 pm

You’re amazing!


150 Jo May 6, 2013 at 10:18 pm

I think it’s great that you did it. I did not adopt, but I had two children after a breast reduction and I nursed them for comfort even though they were getting their sustenance from a bottle. It also assuaged my guilt and sadness at not being able to nurse.

I nursed my oldest (9 years older than my second) for a year, but was only able to get colostrum for the two little ones. I was lucky in that my sister had a daughter 4 months before I had my daughter, so she pumped and froze milk for me. She ended up getting mostly breast milk the first two weeks. I had my last 7 months before my sister had her second, so she pumped for my son, too :)


151 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 5:01 pm

How great to be able to have that source for breast milk, Jo!


152 Theresa May 6, 2013 at 10:18 pm

You are a wonderful momma.


153 Veronika (Bamboola Baby) May 6, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Thank you for writing this, and kudos to you! You are doing the right thing following your children’s needs. I have heard about breastfeeding adopted children and it is possible – some women can produce milk, particularly with small babies. I have 2 babies (biological) and I breastfeed only – my first weaned at 18 months and it was sad for me not having those moments anymore and not being able to comfort him when he was upset. My second is 6 weeks now and breastfeeding is his favorite activity :)


154 Christah cato May 6, 2013 at 10:42 pm

We adopted a boy raised in foster care by my parents. He was 2 when my parents got him. My mom realized he needed that bonding time as he had been very neglected at home. So she would make his favorite drink. (Chocolate milk) put it in a bottle and rock him as he drank. He is still extremely bonded to my mother. My husband and I adopted him, and now at 12 years old still fondly remembers all this. He still loves to snuggle and chocolate milk :)


155 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Sweet story, Christah. How my girls would love it if I could rig up a way to get chocolate milk out of these breasts! :-)


156 Therese May 6, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Wow. I have tears in my eyes reading all of this positive feedback, honoring your mom instincts, Zoe! What lucky girls, what a lucky family to have found each other and then to use your love to bring such empowerment to others. I am in awe of your courage in sharing this and your wisdom in your choices as you respond to their choice to bond with you in the most authentic way they know. Praise God… and Happy (well deserved!) Mother’s Day!


157 Jessica L. P. May 6, 2013 at 10:55 pm

You’ve won my admiration. Thank you for your bravery in posting and your wisdom with your children.


158 Kim May 6, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Beautiful! Not only am I proud that you made such an amazing choice to nurture/bond/ and even provide healing for your daughters, but the amazing choice you made when you decided to share your story!!!
Our breasts were created to nourish our children!
And just as your situation proves, our children need that bonding experience whether they are physically born from our bodies or brought to us through adoption! It is a message that must be spoken! Great job!
My husband an I have 4 biological children from 21years to 13.
We breast fed all four of them for as long as it was right for each child.
Last July we adopted a 31week premature little boy. Prior to his birth we had 4 weeks to prepare for his early arrival after being contacted by our lawyer.
Our goal was to induce my breasts for lactating. But with his early arrival; the time spent in the NICU; and considering I wouldn’t take any prescription to encourage my milk we were left with no option to breast feed.
But it didn’t stop us from putting him to my breast daily! (Although it wouldn’t have mattered,the nurses, lactation consultant and doctors were all very supportive, even though it wasn’t something they had witnessed before).
It was the MOST AMAZING feeling the first time he latched on and used me as his “pacifier”! My husband and I sobbed uncontrollably! It is something we knew was so important for him to not only feel secure and content, but for us to bond!
And I can tell you it worked!!! He is 10months old now and doing amazing!!!
(We also had breast milk donated for 5months from our niece and a couple of our friends!)
Stories like yours and mine, and all he others that your post has encouraged, are vital to educate our society about the importance of not just breast feeding, but BREAST-BONDING for our adoptive children! Thank you again for your love and passion for these children! And your willingness to be so transparent!
May God bless you and your precious family!


159 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Great story, Kim! Blessings to you all!


160 Hillary May 6, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Lovely. Just lovely. Thank you for the beautiful post, and thank you to all of the loving and supportive comments above too :) Sometimes, people are nice.


161 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Yes, comboxes can be such nasty places and the comments here restore one’s faith in humanity a bit! :-)


162 Renee M. R. May 6, 2013 at 11:19 pm

That was beautiful and made me tear up. Thank you for sharing. As an adoptee I have a very special place in my heart for all involved in adoption. Your kiddos have an amazing momma!


163 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Your comment made me smile Renee, specially given that you are an adoptee. Thank you!


164 Ruth Telford May 6, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Wonderful story. I am struck how you have been able to immediately feel the needs of your children and act appropriately. How very fortunate they are to have been chosen children of caring parents and grandparents. Their life can only get better and better from here. Bless your hearts for what you are doing!


165 Karleen Gribble May 6, 2013 at 11:37 pm

Hi Zoe,
Good on you for sharing your story. Newly adopted children seeking breastfeeding is a fairly common situation though not one that many families are willing to speak about publicly. I wrote about this in a couple of papers http://www.internationalbreastfeedingjournal.com/content/1/1/5
It can be very confronting for mothers when their child makes it clear that they want to breastfeed.


166 Zoe Saint-Paul May 7, 2013 at 12:34 am

Thank you, Dr. Gribble, for your supportive words, and sharing the links to your papers. I really wanted to put my story out there — I understand how weird it can be when you’re confronted with this — especially if, like me, you’ve never had an experience of breast-feeding before. But what is a little discomfort compared to the needs of your child and the important of your attachment to one another?


167 Suzanne May 6, 2013 at 11:38 pm

I think that it is extremely sweet that she entrusted you enough when she met you to want you to nurse her as if you were her birth mother. That really says volumes for you as a woman. She would not have done this with someone she didn’t feel ultimately safe with (I don’t believe) so how wonderful for you both.


168 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Your comment stood out to me, Suzanne, as I hadn’t thought about how she must have trusted me enough in the beginning to even ask. Thanks for that.


169 Sarah Richardson May 6, 2013 at 11:53 pm

I think you are amazing. Thank you for sharing your story with the world.


170 Sophia May 6, 2013 at 11:57 pm

thank you so much for being brave and sharing this! The suckle-need is so primal and innocent. I hope that this helps people understand this.


171 Jamie Grumet May 7, 2013 at 12:00 am

I agree with the above! What a warrior mom you are (for SO many reasons). You are going to be helping so many other families by sharing this story! It’s making me tear up reading your words and then all the encouragement in the comment section.


172 Zoe Saint-Paul May 7, 2013 at 12:14 am

Thank you for encouraging me to write this post, Jamie, and for all your support!


173 Leah May 7, 2013 at 12:02 am

This is really awesome :) What a wonderful gift for those girls. I think it is amazing that a 4-year-old still has the instinct/inclination to nurse for comfort and connection.
I have never nursed a child (I don’t have kids… yet) but I did take care of my friend’s 3-4 year old when she was dying. I lived with them for several months. She had to wean him when he was one because she had to start chemo and it was very abrupt. As a compromise, she let him hold her breast/nipple for comfort. When he was 3, her cancer came back. As she got sicker, she wasn’t able to be with him because her brain cancer was affecting her personality so greatly. I would sleep with him, and one night he reached his hand into my shirt and fell right to sleep. I really didn’t care but I wasn’t sure how his dad would feel. I really worried about if I should tell his dad but when I did, he was just so grateful that I was willing to comfort him in a way that was meaningful to him. As she got closer to her death, I was so happy that I could give her son that tiny bit of comfort that reminded him of his mama. I had to start wearing tight tank tops because some nights were so rough, that if his hand fell off of my breast, he would wake up crying. I stayed with them frequently for many months after his mama died. He eventually weaned himself off of holding my breast and there was never really anything strange about it, other than the worry about what other people would think.
Keep doing what’s right for your babies :)


174 Jamie Grumet May 7, 2013 at 12:20 am

This comment is moved me so much, I can’t even read it out loud to my husband all the way through- I start crying. This story is another great one to be shared. I keep thinking about my own children. If I was in the position of your friend how blessed I would be to have someone like you caring for them.


175 Zoe Saint-Paul May 7, 2013 at 12:27 am

Thank you for sharing such a heart-breaking and beautiful story. You may not be a mother in the literal sense, but you have great motherly instincts — and such love. How amazing that you could provide that little boy comfort like that. Makes me teary.


176 Brooke May 7, 2013 at 12:10 am

I cried reading this. My husband and I have a desire to adopt in the future and hearing this sweet, beautiful way that you loved your daughters by meeting their needs that had not been met melts my heart! Adoption is so beautiful!



177 Sarah May 7, 2013 at 12:16 am

Just another “way to go, mama.” Beautiful story about meeting your children’s needs.


178 Brandee May 7, 2013 at 12:19 am

This is so wonderful! I am sharing it far and wide and especially with a friend who is adopting two from Ethiopia (no ages or genders yet) and plans on nursing them if she’s still lactating and if not, she plans on working on relactation. I just love that you went with your gut and did what was right for you and your daughter. Truly beautiful. I nursed both of my girls–my first was weened at 25 months when I was 6 months pregnant with my second. I told her that when the baby came she could have more “milks”. She remembered! She taught herself to nurse again when her sister was about one month old (big thanks to her for waiting!) and she was the last to nurse at one month past her fourth birthday. Such a precious time.


179 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:51 pm

So great to hear all that, Brandee!


180 Bonnie Ellison May 7, 2013 at 12:33 am

What a wonderful story! I can imagine that it probably felt very strange to be nursing 2 older children, but what you did was obviously SO essential for their bond with you! It’s hard to shirk the fear of going against our (very backwards!) cultural norms, but I’m so glad you followed your heart and are sharing your story to help pave the way for other mothers that may find themselves in a similar situation. You gave your babies the perfect love and comfort that they needed, and they are so lucky to have you as their mommy :)


181 Jessica May 7, 2013 at 12:34 am

I think what you are doing is amazing! Why should a child have to be denied that comfort and bonding, especially in a completely new and scary environment, because they aren’t biologically related to the parent?? I think that if more mothers thought like you more adopted children would have easier transitions into their new lives and stronger bonds with their new mommies. You rock! :)


182 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:43 pm

I, too, hope that if an adopted child indicated a desire for this, a parent would see it as a great way to attach more deeply. It has certainly been the case here.


183 Gretchen May 7, 2013 at 12:42 am

Amazing….beautiful…there are so many touching things about this article, but quite possibly the most inspirational thing is the outpouring of love, support & encouragement you are receiving from all of these precious women. Such a sweet & gracious story.


184 Kate May 7, 2013 at 12:55 am

I think this is amazingly wonderful! I was a post adoption social worker before my twin sons arrived (my wife gave birth.) I did some comfort nursing for a bit as well as I did not induce lactation. Attachment is key adoption (and biological parenting) and comfort nursing is a wonderful way to do it. Rock on Momma, rock on!


185 alisha May 7, 2013 at 12:57 am

You are awesome:)


186 Barbara Poland-Waters May 7, 2013 at 1:03 am

That was a wonderful article, very well written. I breastfed my son until he was 3 1/2, even though my husband, mother-in-law and mother didn’t necessarily agree with me. But it worked for my son. It was a wonderful bonding experience for us, and I felt it was absolutely natural. In fact, it always shocked me when I’d hear that someone thought it was sick to practice extended breastfeeding with older children because of some idea that it was sexual. Sexuality doesn’t come into play at all when you’re breastfeeding! Unfortunately, some people are so repressed, they think private parts can only be viewed in a sexual light. For the whole time I breastfed my son, I felt like my breasts were serving the function they were intended for biologically. I am very proud of myself for doing that for my son because I believe it helped keep him healthy and we bonded and became very close. That closeness has lasted since then, and he is now 5 1/2 years-old. I think you did the right thing in giving them what they needed because even if your breasts could’t provide them with nutrition, they obviously helped you provide your daughters with nurturing.


187 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Totally agree with all that, Barbara! Thanks for sharing it.


188 Anne May 7, 2013 at 1:03 am

I tried to nurse my adopted son who was 2.5 years. He didn’t get it. He didn’t understand why he would want to do that. We laughed. Oh well, I tried. :)


189 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Ha! Well, we follow our children’s lead on these things, right?


190 Mia May 7, 2013 at 1:03 am

I too am an adoptive mother, my youngest son was 2 months old when we got him. He has very bad acid reflux as a baby & was very unhappy & that made things very hard on me, to bond with him. i didn’t start nursing him until he was a yr old just for the bonding experience. he will be 5 in Aug & im so glad i was able to connect with him even though it was only for a few months. today he is a mommas boy & we continue to co-sleep. he is my everything and I am his!


191 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I can imagine how stressful that was in the beginning, Mia. So great to hear you both came through it so bonded and attached!


192 Stephanie May 7, 2013 at 1:06 am

Hi Zoe, This is a very heart-warming and touching story. It is great that you are brave enough to share it, there is still so much that is not said about the way we nurture our young. When I first started feeding my son I was in total disbelief at how hard it was, the pain, the pumping, the pressure to make it seem easy. There were times of great discomfort, I could not allow him to play with my nipple, or grab at my breast, so I can imagine the discomfort it could be having a preschooler sucking on you. It sounds like you have acted with extreme grace and kept the needs of your children at the forefront. Thank you for opening up the dialogue around nursing adopted children, and nursing older children for their comfort and security. Much love to you and your family xS


193 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:38 pm

I know that breastfeeding can be so hard! And every woman’s experience is different. Ann Waterman has written about that in the past here at SlowMama:


Thanks for sharing some of your story, Stephanie!


194 Alicia May 7, 2013 at 1:07 am

It’s beautiful, and intrinsic, to give your children what they need regardless of the culture norm. A child knows what it needs in order to grow and develop naturally. If more women would listen to their children, adopted or otherwise, and also just as importantly allow herself to be open in any way her child needs her, this world would be a lot less destraught as whole. Our world has seen many advances, but how many parents raise their children these days has only hindered our evolution as people. Our world is becoming a dark place. Unless more women stand up for what is right and natural we will continue along this destructive path. Encourage new mothers and pregnant mothers, teach them what it means to parent naturally and what a beautiful experience that it can be. Hugs.


195 Kathryn May 7, 2013 at 1:10 am

beautiful, tender, and oh so sweet. It makes me want to appreciate breastfeeding my 13 month old even more (sometimes I try to rush her).


196 Ronda May 7, 2013 at 1:13 am

As a fellow adoptive breastfeeding mom of a 3 year old, I so appreciate you sharing your story. I think our experiences help to reclaim a healthy breastfeeding culture for everyone. I look forward to the day that our stories are viewed as ordinary rather than extraordinary.


197 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Ronda, thanks for sharing here. It’s good to hear about others who’ve done this.


198 Rachel May 7, 2013 at 1:19 am

Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing! What I love most about this post is all the positive comments!!!!


199 Teri May 7, 2013 at 1:19 am

It’s a real mom who ignores convention because she puts her child’s immediate needs first. Good for you.


200 Anne May 7, 2013 at 1:25 am

This is happening in our home too, for the very reasons you discuss here.
I was lucky enough to come across ONE mention of “comfort nursing” before bringing my two year old son home from ET so had a little bit of a heads up that he may ask to nurse. It has been a wonderful addition to our bonding process.
Thank you for sharing this so openly.


201 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:34 pm

I wish I had known more about this before being suddenly confronted with it. This is one of the big reasons I decided to write about it.


202 Anne May 8, 2013 at 4:55 pm

I’m so glad you did! I’m sharing this post far and wide in my adoption circles :)


203 rileigh May 7, 2013 at 1:25 am

I think what you did is awesome. I am not one to breast feed past a year but I think that you were able to connect and bond with your daughters in a way that not everyone gets to and I think that it is beautiful. I have three girls, 5, 3 and eight months, just today my five year old told me she wanted to nurse like the baby. I think she just recognizes the special bond and she wanted to be part of it. Just like your girls, anything you can do to reassure your daughters that you are their mother and they are your children will help them feel loved and safe. And that is what children need to feel. If anyone says anything negative about your experience that is about them and not about you.


204 Monique May 7, 2013 at 1:32 am

I am amazed! Not only by you, your story, and the fact that you had the courage to share your story, but also by all of the commenters and the support and lack of negativity. Even/especially the male commenters. I am encouraged and hopeful that the normalizing of breastfeeding in general is within our near future. Thank you for sharing! God bless you and your beautiful family!


205 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm

I was amazed by it all, too, Monique!


206 Antonia May 7, 2013 at 1:47 am

Your story is beautiful and made me cry a bit at the love your daughter must have felt when you let her nurse. Had you not, it would have been a devastating rejection to her. Yet, you knew in your heart what the significance was to her and did the right thing. Thank God these twins were adopted by you to love them :) I have a 5 year old & 6 mos old twins and nursed and am still nursing the twins. One twin nurses less but your story inspired me to at least do the skin to skin because that contact is just as important as the milk. Thank you for sharing.


207 Sarah May 7, 2013 at 2:00 am

I am not an adoptive mum. And honestly if I did ever adopt I would not breast feed, simply because my husband would be so upset about it the issue would be too big a mountain for me. On that note however I am a mum practicing extended breastfeeding with my 3rd child. My first had to be weened at 6mths due to some heavy duty meds I had to consume due to thyroid problems. My second self weened, and has never looked back, at 9mths. However my daughter seems to never want to ween. That aside my now 6yr old first child, now often asks can he please bf again? Internally I think “yeah sure” but then family, society and the fact he is now in school and if he mentioned it he may be bullied, all stop me in my tracks. ” You physically can’t anymore my love.” I reply, knowing that his new sucking reflex is different from when he nursed. When I told my husband about our sons request he smiled, “What he is really asking you is to be loved, unconditionally and quietly one on one.”. So when he asks, I know I need to slow down, take a moment, and truly give him 100% of my attention.


208 Nichole May 7, 2013 at 2:44 pm

You and your husband seem to have slightly different views, but a connection all the same. How wonderful for him to realize what your son is asking of you! Good for you for still giving him what you can, even if allowing him to breastfeed at this age doesn’t work for your family. And I commend you on respecting your husband and choosing the mountains you are willing to climb. Being there for our children is so important as mothers, but even first…I believe that being there for our husbands has to come first. Your bond with your husband will seep into your bond with your children. Keep honoring him, and I truly believe God will honor you!


209 Claire May 7, 2013 at 2:50 am

What a wonderful expression of trust from your children towards yourself to want to be comforted in such a way. I for one think what you are doing is absolutely wonderful. How incredibly lucky you all are to have found one another and particularly for these young children to have found a mama who can nurture them in such a loving manner. Yes there are going to be people out there who will judge, but there will always be those people no matter what any of us do as mothers. Good luck to you and your family and keep being the awesome mother you so clearly are:)


210 Kata May 7, 2013 at 3:05 am

Hi. Once I read an article on a similar topic, and it said that after nursing adopted children some mothers re-lactate. It is written in hungarian, so I can not share any links, sorry. But I believe that you are douing just the RIGHT THING.


211 Caz May 7, 2013 at 3:23 am

What you have done is amazing. Your children are so lucky to have you.


212 Carolina May 7, 2013 at 4:07 am

Thank you for sharing your story. You are a beautiful mother. I’m so happy to hear how compassionate and understanding you are with your daughters.


213 Asc May 7, 2013 at 5:38 am

Great! What a natural way to soothe a little child that just went through a traumatic event (new family, new language, new everything): spending some skin-to-skin time. You gave a child your warmth (=love and a feeling of security and closeness)
You go! And don’t get judged by people who think otherwise. YOU know what’s best for your little ones because YOU love them more than anybody else!


214 Sarah May 7, 2013 at 6:53 am

How beautiful, and how blessed those girls are to have a mama who is sensitive to and responsive to their needs! I have only biological children, and have breastfed all of them. Our youngest is 2 yrs, 2 months and loves to nurse, so I’m planning on continuing as long as he’s interested. Nothing can replace the bonds we forge with our little ones through nurturing them.


215 Elizabeth Dalton May 7, 2013 at 6:54 am

Thank you for sharing. <3


216 Tracy Creek May 7, 2013 at 7:22 am

Everyone else has said such eloquent things there’s not much left. I’m a pediatrician, breastfed twins til 18m and now a 7 month old. It’s so central to the experience & obligation of motherhood for me that I’ve wondered if I could ever adopt and properly mother a child without the breasts (have thought about it). Your story is beautiful, inspiring, brave, and I cried tears of joy for your little girls.


217 Jackie May 7, 2013 at 7:55 am

You are nothing short of AMAZING! I am deeply impressed with your willingness to listening to your instincts and to open your heart and mind to the signals your beautiful daughters. I appreciate your honesty in how uncomfortable this is for you and am impressed with your willingness to rise above it in the best interest of your children. They are incredibly lucky to have you.


218 Jade May 7, 2013 at 8:06 am

I breast fed my daughter until she self weened at 3, and now at 3years 5 months she still likes to relax for a couple of minutes with her hand incontact with my breast, she knows there is no milk any more but just as you said … it is about comfort, reassurance and bonding. And I personally am very happy to hear that you have made no differentiation with your 2 girls because they are adopted. You have done the right thing and the girls will grow to be so much more emotionally attached and stable. You have helped set them for life in more ways than one by doing this. Brave girl, top mum.


219 K. Cleaver May 7, 2013 at 8:10 am

It doesn’t matter how long I breastfed my girls or even if I breastfed. What matters is you’re taking good care of your children and doing what is best for them. They have a good mama.


220 christelle Donaghy May 7, 2013 at 8:36 am

This is the story of a women who knows to listen with her heart. From there no choice could be wrong. You are and have done the best choice for you and for your daughters.
Everyday thank yourself for always making choices with your heart.
I love your strorie and THANK YOU so much for sharing.

Have an amazing day,


221 Sarah Occident May 7, 2013 at 8:36 am

Love, love, love. You are a wonderful mama, and such an inspiration. Your story affected me on a couple different levels. I’m a first-time mom in a wonderful breastfeeding relationship with my 5 month old daughter (nursing as I type!), and being able to nurse her is very special to me. Also, I have two adopted cousins, sisters, also from Ethiopia, who came to our family young, at 3 months and 2 years, respectively. They would have benefited so much from a breastfeeding relationship–there was a huge need for the closeness, affection, trust, etc.

Thank you for telling your story–it is beautiful, and so are you.


222 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:29 pm

I’m feeling the love, Sarah, thank you!!


223 Nicole May 7, 2013 at 8:46 am

This is just beautiful!


224 kate May 7, 2013 at 8:48 am

Thank you for your honesty. I feel like the majority of people that speak up about breastfeeding are the type that say things like “I don’t care what people think” or “I’ll nurse him/her until middle school”. I can see how this IN YOUR FACE strategy would turn some people off to breastfeeding. Even me!….and I’m a nursing mom of two! I have to admit, I squirmed a bit when I read the title of this article, but I’m so glad that I read it. Thank you for expressing your insecurities and realistic views on the topic. It’s refreshing.


225 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Thanks, Kate, for your openness to what I know is rather out of the norm!


226 Jewel Nolt May 7, 2013 at 9:20 am

You are right on with this! Keep on loving those twins! I have twin boys and nursed them both until they were 2! Loved every minute of it. It was hard to quit but my family would have preferred that and so I did. I cherish those moments very much!


227 Maggie Birlem May 7, 2013 at 9:21 am

Woman, you rule! Those kids are so lucky. Keep calm and carry on!


228 Alix May 7, 2013 at 9:54 am

Beautiful. Go Mama!


229 kathy May 7, 2013 at 9:59 am

i have 4 biological children and breastfed 16 mo, 8 years, 2 years and 6 years with each. hope this makes you feel more “normal”. :)


230 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:27 pm

It does, thanks! :-)


231 Brenna May 7, 2013 at 10:06 am

Love this! Good for you for doing what is best for your children and not society.


232 Mary Ostyn (Owlhaven) May 7, 2013 at 10:14 am

This is lovely! I was able to nurse two adopted babies who arrived as infants, one for two years and the other for a year. But my more surprising experience was being able to nurse my daughter who arrived in our home at 20 months of age. She nursed until she was over the age of four, and it was a very sweet time of bonding for us. I’m so glad we had the experience.
Mary, momma to 10 including four from Ethiopia and two from Korea


233 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Wow, momma to 10! You are awesome.


234 Becky@TheSavedRunner May 7, 2013 at 11:01 am

Hey there! I just found your blog, but I can already tell I’m going to love it. I am getting married in June, and someday my fiance and I want to adopt. I look forward to reading about how you do with your adopted children, and how you deal with situations like these! I love that you are putting your child’s needs first and not letting anyone else’s opinions influence your decision.


235 Cristina May 7, 2013 at 11:03 am

Beautiful! You go mama!


236 Jenny May 7, 2013 at 11:16 am

Zoe, you have beautiful mothering instincts and you are doing a wonderful thing. It makes my heart swell with compassion for your children to read how they took a chance with you, made themselves vulnerable and asked for a connection. And you responded with the utmost empathy. This is what parenting is all about. I am also an adoptive breastfeeding mom, my daughter is 4yo as well, also from Ethiopia. Like you, I wish I had known other mothers like me, but didn’t and was on my own. There is now a Facebook group for us, and others interested in the protection, promotion and support of adoptive breastfeeding. Please join us. As you can see from the wonderful comments here, you are not alone. Hugs, Jenny. http://www.facebook.com/groups/AdoptiveBreastfeeding/


237 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Thank you, Jenny, for sharing your story, and also for the invitation. I will check out the group!


238 Krista Michele May 7, 2013 at 11:17 am

Mammals nurse as a form of nutrition, not comfort alone. If it’s “fine” to do this when your daughter is 4, 5 or 6 – is it equally fine if she’s 14, 15, 17? Truly, as yourself that question. If it’s not “fine” at 17, ask yourself why her older age makes it more inappropriate (if it does). And that should provide a simple guide as to why it’s really NOT fine at 2 or 17. Unless you’re producing milk (nourishment) for the child, it’s pointless and inappropriate. Perhaps you should ask if it wasn’t YOU who needed this experience to bond as their mother because it’s what you missed when you did not birth them.

Don’t blame the kids, it’s you.


239 Jade May 7, 2013 at 11:42 am

Dearest Krista

As a behaviour psychologist, who specialises in child and infant behaviour (as well as being a mum, which I personally is my greatest qualifier in giving a response). Nursing a child, even up to the age of 5 or 6 serves a VERY innate need within the infant for natural comfort, reassurance and helps develop a psychological understanding of secure emotional bonds. Sadly for the last 50 years there have be too many people of the same opinion as you (despite the fact that your opinion has no scientific basis whatsoever). And because so many mothers have been pressured by society to unaturally detach themselves from their infants do we infact not see in todays society and global epidemic of people emotionally detached, lacking in empathy, self serving, dependant on drugs, alcohol, food, child abusers, serial killers, rapists amongst a million other social ills. I guarantee you (based on scientific evidence) that not one of these humans that are so detached from humane nature felt the security, warmth and love that Zoe has shown her two daughters. In light of your comments and for your own private curiosity ask your mother how she weened you? there in you may find all the answers.


240 Tiffany May 7, 2013 at 11:52 am

When my daughters are 16 and 17, I will allow them to stay up until midnight studying. They can drive a car. I’ll leave them home alone for hours by themselves. I won’t tell them they aren’t big enough to use the stove. They won’t have to ask my permission to go in the backyard to play or ask me to call a friend to come over to play. I expect they also won’t need me to help them fall asleep at night or read them bedtime stories and supervise bath time.
However, I would not allow my one and three year old those same privileges.
Comparing a 17 and a 2 year old when discussing breastfeeding is the most ridiculous argument against extended breastfeeding that I have read yet, and I’ve read some good ones. :) A teen is far, far, FAR different from a toddler or preschooler, and you absolutely cannot compare the two.


241 Jade May 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm

very well put Tiffany x


242 Leah May 7, 2013 at 12:41 pm

So if it’s “not fine” at 17 to be wiping a child’s bottom, it’s also not fine at 2?

That argument makes no sense at all.

What evidence do you have that mammals do not nurse for comfort only? Isn’t this story case-in-point evidence that mammals DO nurse for comfort alone? Not to mention the many other stories in the comments about children nursing after their mother’s were no longer producing milk.

Blame was never apart of this conversation at all. Who is blaming anyone? I thought we were talking about making sure everyone’s needs were met in a way that was meaningful and appropriate to those involved.

I do think it is awesome that out of almost 200 comments, this is the first one that was really negative at all! I honestly didn’t think we had come this far :)


243 Krista Michele May 7, 2013 at 8:38 pm

A 2 year old cannot effectively wipe its own behind. Okay?

Get the difference here, folks?

There is need and there is everything else. Nursing young is to fulfill a need. It’s a brilliant evolutionary design that allows all mothers who’ve given birth to nourish that toothless infant until the infant can be nourished by chewing their food. There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that this design is intended for any other purpose. Sad day when lions know better than we do!

Incidentally, why are you leaving adoptive fathers out of this? Shouldn’t they have a chance to “bond” with their children too? Why not stick the kids on their nipples for “comfort?”

What ever happened to hugging? Snuggling? A nap together? Kisses? Now we’re encouraging women with milk-less breasts to stick a child on it. And why? Because it gives them something they missed out on from not having birthed their child – and don’t think for a moment it’s about anything else!

You can do it, of course. You can let your adoptive 6 year old suck on your empty breast for “comfort,” but it doesn’t mean it’s sound. In the words of Chris Rock, “you can drive a car with your feet, don’t mean it’s a good M-F idea!”


244 J May 7, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Primates are completely different than lions. If you wanted to compare a different species to a human, I would suggest a chimpanzee. http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/347904/description/Chimps_baby_teeth_dont_predict_weaning

Adoptive and biological fathers have many ways of bonding with their children. That argument is ridiculous. This is one out of many ways an adoptive mother can bond with her child, and every positive way of attachment should be embraced if it is working for a family. Attachment is vital to all families.

My mother had lumpectomy and lost her milk with me and I continued breastfeeding past preschool. If you really believe mothers are doing this for their own fulfillment and not for the child, you are not educated on the topic and wrong.

I just wonder why you would take time out of your day to complain about something that you have no experience with, you have not researched, and clearly doesn’t affect your life one bit. However, your judgmental comments anger a lot of us because your ignorance hurts families.


245 Robin August 25, 2013 at 8:01 am


If it has nothing to do with comfort perhaps psychology could shed some light? But if not.
Brain development. That is all.


246 Michelle February 9, 2014 at 3:52 am

What about emotional needs Krista?

247 J May 7, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Since Krista wants to make some assumptions about you, I think I’ll return the favor. What do you bet Krista herself was adopted? My guess is she was adopted in the South and is/was an only child. This kind of comment has nothing to do with you, Zoe. It is clearly an emotional response to her own life experiences. This kind of a comment comes from an emotional place with no research-based evidence or personal experience to back up her claims. This comment is not about breastfeeding. What it is about and what I think is loud and clear is someone who is hurting and probably does have a relevant and helpful story to tell for all adoptive parents- just not in this way. There is a disconnect in the comment regarding the bond needed with an adoptive mother and child, and how the adoptive mother is almost narcissistic in behavior and reasoning when decided to breastfeed the adopted children. Not accepting a selfless action from an adoptive mother and then adding that mysterious blame that no one has mentioned to the end of it. This is goes much deeper than an attempt at a personal attack. I think the other commenters are doing a great job educating people on the misinformation of Krista’s post, but as far as her real reasoning to commenting. I bet it is much more than that and does not deserve to be judged.

Also, as far as the act of breastfeeding without milk (and adoptive)- it is very very common and soothing behavior with mammals, especially primates (human and non-human).


248 Krista Michele May 7, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Well no, as a matter of fact. Krista was not an adoptee. Krista has 2 siblings and Krista was nursed and nursed her own child.

Krista is also a scientist (albeit physics) and refuses to pander to what feels good over what makes sense. I guess that sort of proves that Krista thinks like her profession!


249 J May 7, 2013 at 11:02 pm

I think Krista is lying. For a “scientist” you have not shown one piece of scientific evidence to back up your claims, unless you think Chris Rock is a adequate reference on this topic. Your own personal discomfort is unfortunate, but doesn’t mean you need to try to bully other women into doing what YOU are comfortable with vs. what is actually beneficial for their children.


250 Krista Michele May 8, 2013 at 6:03 pm

J –

This isn’t about discomfort. It’s about a bias you have, and don’t even realize.

And let me prove it to you. Suppose Zoe’s child sought bonding and comfort via the same methods from her grandmothers and those grandmothers were to comply – to allow the child to “nurse” (and I use quotes deliberately), would you feel equally comfortable?

I’ll bet you wouldn’t. Ask yourself why that would be uncomfortable for you.

You’re comfortable because “nursing” her daughter is, perhaps, a way she can experience something birth mothers feel innately. So what if she doesn’t have breastmilk to provide – it makes us FEEL good that she can grasp something of which she’s missed. And this is why, in fact, most of the cheerleading comments wouldn’t be comfortable with the child’s father or the child’s grandmothers “nursing” the child to create a bond.

Do you imagine that’s even a possible bias in favor of “nursing” a child with an empty breast?

As an aside, this has nothing to do with bio mom vs. adoptive mom. I know an adoptive mother can produce breastmilk – in which case, there is actual nursing and it’s, in fact, what is supposed to happen.

251 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 6:39 pm

To set the record straight — and I thought this was clear in my post — I didn’t do this out of any need I had to *feel* like my girls’ mother. I had no desire to nurse a four year-old child, and I was uncomfortable doing so. There were plenty of other ways to feel like their mom — this was not one I was looking for. I *did* however, desire to meet the need my daughter was showing for this particular kind of connection to me. And given her memories of her birth culture, and her attachment process, her desire for this made sense to me.

We all have biases, based on our experiences,beliefs, and interests. Hopefully, however, we each seek truth based in fact. If you’re truly interested in this topic, you might want to read the papers linked above by Dr. Gribble, and learn more about attachment and adoption. There was a time, not too long ago, when I myself thought that nursing any child past four had to be about the mother’s needs and not the child’s. Now I see how wrong I was about that. But you don’t know me so I don’t expect you to be convinced. Just wanted to re-iterate, however, that nursing was not something I initiated — I never initiate it — it is something I simply respond to. And my daughter’s desire for it is already changing and waning.

252 sharims May 8, 2013 at 6:49 pm

In other cultures (specifically in Mongolia, but there are other places too), yes, grandmas, aunties, and sometimes uncles and fathers will dry nurse little ones for comfort, so your argument that there is not valid. It’s about societal norms and crossing the bridge in a respectful way to a child who has not had as privileged a start as those who start with their mommies.

This mama met her child’s needs despite her surprise and despite the societal norms into which she moved the child with the loving act of adoption.

Personally, I wish the whole bias of what’s normal in breastfeeding in the US is horribly skewed because of media and the whole era of formula becoming the norm.

Yes, I would be comfortable with my toddler dry nursing from a loved one if they needed it, and I wasn’t around. Unfortunately, *they* wouldn’t be comfortable with it most likely because of the societal constraints we currently live in.

253 Bri May 9, 2013 at 5:49 pm

If I had a nickle for every time a middle-aged New Jersey mom tried to tell me how to parent I’d… have about 50 cents. Okay, bad example.

The point is, the few (the loud) can do their best to push their ideas of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ onto us. I think we should all acknowledge how confusing and isolating that can feel.

The good news is if we look around (even in the comments section of this post) at the outpouring of support from people who have been in similar situations or try to be open-minded of others, and that is what is going to help empower others to make the best choice in the given scenario.


254 Kiki Bacaro May 8, 2013 at 8:10 pm

As a mental health counselor with a master’s degree in Psychology, this was a GREAT assessment J.


255 Cheryl May 9, 2013 at 8:44 am

I too, would have been very comfortable letting my sisters or my mother breastfeed my children. They even tried to nurse from daddy but they didn’t like it. Krista, you don’t know the real ways of nature and of the ways our human species has mothered and nurtured their young. Again, I will say, breastfeeding is not only about the food. There is even so much more that goes beyond the term “bonding”. If you are a scientist it is time to get beyond your bias, personal opinion and ignorance on the subject and do some real research.

Even the AAP agrees that, “There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychological or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.” In fact, it actually helps.


256 MomG October 17, 2013 at 12:14 am

I have to agree with you, Krista. My comment is in response to this thread of rude women who believe what Zoe is doing is right. First of all, let me say that I am a breastfeeding advocate. I nursed my daughter for as long as I could. But I think it is HIGHLY inappropriate to “nurse” a four year old child when there is absolutely NO milk to be had. Zoe’s daughter literally sucks on her empty breast randomly throughout the day for 20 seconds, at best (as she stated), for comfort. There are many other ways to bond with children. If Zoe were producing milk, I would absolutely praise her! But, alas, she is not. And she states that she didn’t want to do it and felt uncomfortable?? Then why do it at all? She must’ve eventually become comfortable with it otherwise she never would have done it in the first place. And perhaps Zoe should’ve invested some time and research into actually trying to lactate since her children were so adamant about actually nursing. The fact that she let a four year old child “nurse” on her empty breast is horribly inappropriate.

And I also think Cheryl is absolutely ridiculous and messed up for letting her husband attempt to “nurse” her children. Are you trying to scar your kids for life, Cheryl?? Disgusting. Absolutely freaking terrible.


257 mommaJ October 17, 2013 at 5:57 am

MomG – You just negated the experiences of all of humanity for millions of years, until just the last few generations in Western culture.

Congratulations. You think your own forebears were monsters.


258 MomG October 21, 2013 at 11:15 pm

MommaJ – You clearly have no idea what my point was. Congratulations. You’re an idiot.


259 Tiffany May 7, 2013 at 11:45 am

Beautiful! I breastfed my biological daughter for almost three years. I had hoped with all my heart to do the same with my adopted infant daughter, but unfortunately my milk dried up after six months and it became incredibly painful to nurse. In spite of my sadness, I was so grateful for those six months of incredible bonding.

I experienced flack for extended nursing my oldest, and then I endured flack for nursing an adopted child (in other words, it was gross to breastfeed a child not of my body). I laughed and ignored it all. My precious daughters are worth more than some silly societal hangup, and I can only hope that the more often women do this, the more acceptable it becomes.


260 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm

People have weird hang-ups and assumptions and I’m so glad you just ignored those voices and did what you thought was best for your daughters!


261 Didi Craze May 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Beautiful, you did everything perfectly. Thank you for your bravery to share.
Birth Educator


262 Anna May 7, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Love, love, love this story! And I thought I was doing something cool breastfeeding my two-year-old LOL You are AMAZING and I feel privilidged to get a glimps into your life and the life of your beautiful daughters – thank you for sharing. It made my day! Thank you for being so amazing.


263 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:19 pm

You are definitely doing something cool, too, Anna! :-)


264 Ruth May 7, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Yes, I went through this as well when we brought our siblings home from Ethiopia – they were just weeks from turning 6 (boy) and 4 (girl). Though my daughter was briefly interested, it was my son that was keenly interested and who took initiative. It was clearly a comforting thing for him, though my body produced no milk…it was like a security blanket in those early months of attaching and I have no regrets. I struggled with embarrassment as well, because this isn’t something one is prepared for when bringing home older children (at least, WE certainly hadn’t been told about this possibility. But it absolutely worked to strengthen our bond and when, seven months later he decided he was done, it was because he felt secure enough and attached enough already to want to stop. On occasion since then (he’s been home almost two years) we’ve talked about that and he has told me that I felt warm and safe in those times. That makes it all worth it.

Thanks for posting on this unusual subject.




265 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Ruth, thanks for sharing your experience — sounds so similar!


266 Ash May 7, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Good for you! <3

My children are biological, but twice now, I've re-nursed older siblings after a new baby was born, and re-establishing that the attachment was *available* did them a world of good.


267 Emily May 7, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I’m so glad you shared this. As a soon-to-be adoptive mama (waiting to go get her!) this gave me goosebumps. Beautiful….


268 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Yay, Emily, hope you will have your new daughter in your arms soon!


269 Cyndie May 7, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I currently nursing my 21 month old and 26 weeks pregnant. he mostly nurses for comfort now, but if i am around he is fine too. i have gotten the you need to stop from family, but we are planning on going until he (and baby girl come august) are ready to stop.


270 Larissa May 7, 2013 at 1:43 pm

First time mom and am still nursing my 13 month old. I am considering adoption at some point and have thought a lot about this; even considered re-lactation if necessary. I think you’re awesome and totally did the right thing. Can’t imagine how hard it would be for the child to readjust and this gave them security in the transition. Bravo and good job, mama!


271 Dora May 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Sounds legit to me. ;o)


272 Kalina May 7, 2013 at 1:52 pm

I’ve gotta say – I think it’s weird. I’m sure it’s mainly the way I was brought up. My mom didn’t nurse after we bit her so we normally were done by 6 months. I tried to breastfeed 2 out of 3 of my kids but It hasn’t really worked for me. I think I would have sought out a different way to attach (but then I’ve never adopted either). I think you’re brave for putting this out there but you seem to have gotten pretty much all positive comments. I guess I’m just one of those moms that thinks children shouldn’t nurse that long anyway. (trust me – I get lots of flack about that too – In my community it’s unheard of to NOT breastfeed)


273 J May 7, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I sense that your own experience have shaped your view of breastfeeding. I am sorry if you were hurt by others in the breastfeeding community and I sense that your hurt (understandably) may have aided in your negative perception of breastfeeding past a certain age. However, since you don’t have experience with this topic you should be aware your judgement without basis in research or experience may be harmful to other mothers. As a mother who was breastfed into my preschool years and breastfed my own children into their preschool years, and coming from a family/culture where this is accepted and normal I don’t really see the help in saying you find something weird or that children (not just your own) shouldn’t nurse that long. Having an opinion is great, but I feel it should serve a purpose if shared. I’m not sure your purpose of sharing this, other than speaking out your disapproval of something this mother is trying to explain is helping her family.


274 Kalina May 7, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I’m certain that everyone’s own experiences shape their views. I commented because she asked at the end “What do you think of this?”. You say you don’t see the help in saying my opinion yet no one has said that of anyone else’s opinions that they have posted. The purpose of my opinion is to show that there is still some opposition in this (I never said that breastfeeding was bad and I didn’t put her down for it either!). If I was to learn anything from the comments that have been posted, it’s that EVERYONE approves of breastfeeding. Don’t you think it helps to show ALL different opinions?


275 Aarthi May 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm

All I can say is that your daughters are very lucky to have you. I had a lump in my throat when I finished reading this story. You are an amazing woman.


276 Jennifer May 7, 2013 at 1:59 pm

You are very brave to share this story. It is a truly beautiful story of love. I am a mom to a son through birth and two daughters through adoption. I did induce lactation and was able to breastfeed my girls exclusively. It was wonderful for our attachment and for their health. Inducing was very hard, but so worth it for all of us.


277 Julianne English May 7, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I love that you did this!!! You are wonderful at loving them and reinforcing comfort and love.. xoxox thank you for sharing.


278 Kelly May 7, 2013 at 2:45 pm


here is a link for a supplemental nursing system. For any adoptive mothers that would like to breastfeed. It has also show to help with naturally inducing lactation. (no guaranties but it would be worth a shot and it is only $45) Can be used with formula or donor breastmilk.


279 Gina May 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Great story! I nursed both of my boys as long as they wanted too, even if I didn’t produce enough milk. You are an inspiration. My husband and I have talked about adoption in our future and I will now consider nursing an adopted child. I never really thought about it before. Thanks for sharing.


280 MLK May 7, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story!


281 Mellissa May 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Thank you for giving us your story, which I will certainly pass on, to all moms who are intuitively attached to their children. It is useful to hear about other cultures too, as our breastfeeding culture is one of breastfeeding for nutrition and not for the joy of it, or for the love it shows our children. Thank you for spreading the love!


282 Jeanne May 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm

I think it’s wonderful that you did this for your children! It’s sad that our culture is so dissociated from what’s normal and natural that you needed to worry at all what others might think of it. But thank you for blogging about it, because this will help to re-normalize full term nursing (up to 7.5 years according to Dettwyler’s studies).
I nursed my kids for 3.5 years each. They have been healthier than any of their peers and both grew up smart as can be!
I hope that all of us doing our part, that our children will be able to nurse as long as they like, anywhere they like and never feel a moment’s hesitation, because it will just be the norm everywhere.


283 Peter Dodds May 7, 2013 at 3:34 pm

I was adopted from a German orphanage by an American couple and collaborated with other “foreign” adoptees to create this video about international adoption. You’ll find the quote by Lemn Sissay, an Ethiopian raised by white English parents, especially poignant. Feel free to share the video.



284 Virginia Smith May 7, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Wow, I’ll admit that this seemed a little strange at first… but it makes so much sense now. Go you. I hope that more adoptive mothers will become open to [attempting] to breastfeed; even if just for bonding and comfort!


285 laura@myinternalworld May 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm

That is a wonderful story.

You are a great mother. xxx


286 Lauren May 7, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Incredible, touching, wonderful. Thank you for sharing, and being brave, and letting us in. It is such a wonderful thing to put yourself out there even if you had to summon the courage to do so. I think you will receive far less flack than you expect!


287 Angela Arbogast May 7, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Great job, Mama! I just want to share, for those who think that extended nursing of boys causes premature sexualization — my son who nursed the longest (2 1/2 years) has always been completely nonchalant about romance and can kiss me on the lips in an innocent way even now at age 7. Yet, his 9 year old brother, who I weaned at 15 mths, had to stop kissing me by about age 5 because he would fall to the floor, swooning and exclaiming over my simple little kisses and it just didn’t seem right. Obviously, breastfeeding was not a factor.


288 Kiki Bacaro May 7, 2013 at 4:46 pm

I cried sweet tears reading your post. Good for you mama for meeting your daughter’s needs. May God bless your little family!


289 Jen May 7, 2013 at 5:13 pm

I am nursing my baby boy as I read this and all the comments. Agree with everyone about how great this must be (and apparently is) for your daughters. Also — ladies! Please! I’m stuck in my nursing chair with a sleep-nursing baby and can’t get to the tissues! Have pity!


290 Barb May 7, 2013 at 6:43 pm

I am not an adoptive mother, but I applaud your devotion and instincts with enthusiasm. Being in tune with a child’s emotional needs, no matter what the circumstances, takes effort, commitment and selfless love. Thank you so much for sharing. I am a mother of 7 and breast fed all of them to various degrees and lengths. Reading your post connected me with you and all other mothers who value children and seek for what is in their best interest…..pure love!


291 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm

So happy to have non-adoptive mothers here commenting and relating in various ways. Thank you!


292 Biker Gal May 7, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Good for you! I can only imagine the struggle you had emotionally – ignoring western cultural norms and letting the mother instinct do its work. Right now I am still nursing my biological two year old and ever since she turned one year old, I have gotten so much grief from family members regarding how it is “gross” and “inappropriate” to nurse this long.

My older (childless) sister even commented “thats perverted!” to me when I was nursing my 18 month daughter at the time.

I always hated my breasts and felt uncomfortable with the way they look. Until my daughter was born and taught me that they were made specifically for our babies – they have a higher purpose than what “girly calendars” in men’s garages indicate! Right now, they bring comfort to my daughter, from teething pain to her waking up with a bad dream at night. I plan to continue breastfeeding until SHE decides she is ready to wean.

You have given your daughter security during a very critical bonding time… the emotional strength given through the physical security of your breasts will stay with her the rest of her life. I hope that other adoptive mothers read this and feel more comfortable answering these cues from their children. Thank you for this wonderful post.


293 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm

I’m glad you were able to appreciate your body more for what it was made to do!


294 Krista Michele May 7, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Except humans, mammals nurse their young until their young is able to eat solids, hunt, etc. Humans will continue to nurse a 6 year old that’s eating 3 square meals and snacks. Now we have women adopting children and placing those children at their breast for no nourishment whatsoever.

What ever happened to hugging our children? Holding them? Snuggling? A million kisses and a nap together?

Now the La Leche militants are going to encourage adoptive mothers to pull out a breast so their 6 year old can suck on it for “comfort.”


295 Karleen May 7, 2013 at 9:29 pm

I’m not sure that you understand that this is a situation where the children sought breastfeeding. This was not something that was initiated by the mum. It’s not about the food but about forming connection and whilst all of the things you list are great to do (hugging, snuggling etc) if the child wants to breastfeed then why not? This is not a new thing, children adopted during operation babylift during the Vietnam war are also reported to have sought breastfeeding. It seems to be quite a deep seated need for some children.


296 Krista Michele May 7, 2013 at 8:29 pm

And why leave adoptive fathers out of this “wonderful” bonding experience. Shouldn’t they place a child atop their nipples too?

I said earlier that if it wouldn’t feel right to do this with your 17 year old child who needs comfort then it’s no more right to do it with a 2, 3, 4 year old either. Of course, someone suggested the same distinction would be true for wiping a child’s behind and why it’s okay at 2 and not okay at 17. I would simply state the obvious: a 2 year old CANNOT correctly wipe his/her own behind. Okay?

Get the difference here, folks?

There is need and there is everything else. Nursing young is to fulfill a need. It’s a brilliant evolutionary design that allows all mothers who’ve given birth to nourish that toothless infant until the infant can be nourished by chewing their food. There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that this design is intended for any other purpose.

You can do it. You can let your adoptive 6 year old suck on your empty breast for “comfort,” but it doesn’t mean it’s sound. In the words of Chris Rock, “you can drive a car with your feet, don’t mean it’s a good M-F idea!”


297 Josie May 7, 2013 at 10:49 pm

“And why leave adoptive fathers out of this “wonderful” bonding experience. Shouldn’t they place a child atop their nipples too?”

This is rather silly, and a straw-man argument. Also, you keep repeating that there is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that this design is intended for any other purpose, and yet there have been studies that show nursing helps create a bond with the child. If they child missed out on that, who are you to say Zoe is not right to offer her adopted child that experience? The answer is nobody. It’s great that you have gone to school and memorized what your professors told you about physics, but that doesn’t mean you are right about much else, if even physics. Just about anyone can memorize what they have been told, but it takes a dose of intuition, common sense and adaptive intelligence to raise a child. Unless you have any experience with studying human/infant adaptive behavior, I would suggest you stick to physics.


298 Alexandra's Mum May 7, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Wow this made me well up with tears!

Such a beautiful natural thing to do comfort your baby. Nursing is so much more than nutrition your girls are lucky to have such a wonderful caring Mum.


299 Jessica May 7, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Thank you for posting this. I found it to be very comforting. I tried to nurse for 5 long months but had to stop due to low milk supply and my son not co-operating. It was heartbreaking. I finally realized that my son is more important than my ability to produce nourishment. Now that I am no longer pumping we have more time to bond in other ways. Meeting his needs and seeing the world from his point of view is an ongoing learning process. It was wonderful to read your story about listening to your child and doing your best to meet her needs. Thank you.


300 Elizabeth May 7, 2013 at 11:33 pm

You are a wonderful mother!


301 Sara May 7, 2013 at 11:38 pm

You are incredible.


302 Rita May 8, 2013 at 12:35 am

I adopted a child who was three, from the American foster care system. He was never exposed to breastfeeding, but every night he would crawl into my lap, me in the rocking chair, and we just cuddled. I had done the same with my biological child who was three years older. Congrats on recognizing what your children needed and following through.


303 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Sweet story, Rita.


304 Gina - Truly Pure Birth May 8, 2013 at 12:41 am

Thank you so much for sharing your story! You are incredible, strong and brave :)


305 Jennifer May 8, 2013 at 6:48 am

I loved hearing your story, Zoe, as well as all the many stories and words of kindness and support. I breastfed my daughter until she was almost three and I was 8 months pregnant with my son. I made her stop ( I thought I had to, because the baby was going to need to breastfeed) though she really wasn’t ready, and I regret it to this day. If I had known anything about tandem nursing at the time, I would have kept going until she was ready to wean. Weaning her before her time contributed to her jealousy of the baby (of course!) though I was very careful to maintain a close physical relationship with her, and we still have an extremely close bond. I still (rather covertly) breastfeed my 3 1/2 year old son, who loves his mommy milk and shows no signs of being ready to wean -nor do I plan to push him to it. Hugs, cuddles and co-sleeping are all wonderful things, but breastfeeding is a special bond between a mother and her children. There will always be people who don’t understand that, but it takes strength and courage to stand up for what you know in your heart to be right.
The story of your journey and the connection you are building with your daughters is beautiful and uplifting. Thank you so much for sharing it.
(Just look at the response you’ve yeilded! It’s like you’ve tapped into a secret undercurrent of approval and encouragement! You could write a book! -In praise of breastfeeding- or something! )


306 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Thanks for sharing your story, Jennifer.

And yes, this book idea keeps getting mentioned. Hmmmm…. :-)


307 P Flooers May 8, 2013 at 8:55 am

This is such a moving example of true mother wit, love, bravery, and doing what’s right. Thank you for being a great mother. And thank you for sharing your story.


308 Ana Luisa Monge-Naranjo May 8, 2013 at 9:51 am

Beautiful story and beatiful comments! I’m from Costa Rica and a mother of 2 sons, who are now almost 18 and 15 years-old. My country is strongly influenced by the industrialized world, which includes full-time working moms and the formula feeding. When I had my babies, I was seen as a “hippie mom” –breastfeeding for over 2 years, co-sleeping, carrying them everywhere, focusing on the babies’ needs, playing on the dirt, etc. I was (still am) a rebel as a result of paying attention to my intuition and not letting social pressure dictate what is right or wrong for my children. Though I’m 47 now, I feel that I’m not finished with motherhood of infants, not just yet. For long time, I’ve had the idea of adopting a baby but fear stops me. I fear that things would go wrong and that I may regret the decision later. I’d love to hear more about experiences of adopting moms. How did it go?


309 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I’m convinced certain people are “called” to adoption; if it’s in your heart, I encourage you to follow it!

Adoption *feels* scarier than having a child by birth — for numerous reasons. But the truth is, we never know what a child will come to us with, whether it’s a child by birth or adoption. Birth children can be born with diseases, conditions, and other issues that we never imagined. Our jobs as parents is to assist that little one to become the person they are meant to be, as best we can.

Adoption stories run the gamut and there are many heart-warming stories out there. I encourage you to visit blogs of adoptive moms and read about their experiences. There are also discussion forums on Yahoo. The adoption community is an extremely supportive and generous one, and happy to share experiences — the good and the bad.

Also, come on back… I’ll be writing more about adoption here in the days to come.


310 sharims May 8, 2013 at 11:28 am

While I totally understand that culturally in the US, this is going to be frowned on and your feelings of trepidation, I cried as this is so beautiful! This is exactly what motherhood is. Knowing your child’s needs and meeting them in *their* way, not necessarily your own (as long as it isn’t a danger to anyone).

Your daughters spent their early years in a different culture. You are respecting that and you should be commended for that no matter how “abnormal” our “normal” (HA!) society may think it to me.

((hugs)) and kudos!

(I’m currently starting to get the question of “when will she be done?” for my daughter who just turned 2. My son self-weaned at 27 months (literally overnight), so I know that any time could be our last time, although she is nursing more than my son was at this age, so I hope to continue until she’s at least 2.5 years. BUT, that is up to her, not me. So people, back off!


311 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm

I like your attitude, sharims!


312 Jenn May 8, 2013 at 11:33 am

I think you are amazing! This must have been humbling to experience and then to write about it for the world.


313 Mary Jo May 8, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Zoe, this is a wonderful and well-written article. As many of your responses stated, you should write a book. I breast fed my only son in the early 1970’s and loved it. However, since I had to return to work, I was only able to breast feed him for a total of 5-1/2 months. I tried to express my milk and have it fed to him by bottle (by my mother) while I was at work, but it didn’t work very well and my milk dried up. I really wanted to nurse longer and to this day, wish that I could have. Cudos to you in your nurturing choices. Keep up the good work!


314 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Thank you! Any breast-feeding at all is always better than none and I’m so glad you were able to at least do it for 5.5 months!

A book… now there’s something to chew on…. :-)


315 Wendy Wright May 8, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Excellent parenting and excellent decision to share your story. Your twins are fortunate to have grown up for the initial years surrounded by breastfeeding mothers and babies. By honoring their needs you are truly helping their transition to your family for all three of you. I also love the support your mother in law displayed. Support to critical to positive nursing relationships, even in unique situations. Thank you for sharing your story.


316 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Amen to having a super supportive and open-hearted/minded mother-in-law, Wendy!


317 Jeff May 8, 2013 at 12:54 pm

I can totally picture me recounting this blog post to my wife with a bit of a stifled giggle and an air of superiority.
But as I read more, I got the impression that you are an open, loving, socially and emotionally intelligent mother. Thank you for your openness. I pray that all you do for your children would naturally change from a dependance on you to the strength to copy you.
If God is good enough to let us adopt some day, I will be more open to the unique actions that the needs of adopted children require. Thanks again.


318 Zoe Saint-Paul May 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Jeff, I seriously love your comment. Thanks for taking the time! I hope you are able to adopt one day.


319 DebbieM May 8, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Thank you for sharing! That did take courage, but you can bless so many others by doing so!


320 Anne May 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Just this morning my big boy (13) asked if his little brother had nursed lately. He had noticed nursing had been happening less and less frequently. I assured him that yes little brother had just nursed the night before and he replied, “Oh good, little babies need that”
The exchange made me think of this post. You see, little brother is 2 1/2 and has been in our family for 8 months now, home from Ethiopia at 2 years old.
Thank you for being brave enough to say what I have been afraid to share outside of my little family.


321 Bethany g May 9, 2013 at 3:30 pm

love this comment.


322 Zoe Saint-Paul May 13, 2013 at 12:35 pm

That’s such a great story, Ann, thanks for sharing it!


323 Renee May 8, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Proof that nursing is about more than food and that you don’t need a biological connection to follow your mother’s instinct! Great job, your girls are so lucky!


324 Robin May 10, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Such a touching story! I am currently breastfeeding my first born son, he is 8 months and I never want to stop! Such an amazing and intimate bonding time and he has a very secure attachment. Thank you for sharing your story:)


325 jessie May 11, 2013 at 5:54 am

I love this… I personally have the same “confession” only it is with my biological daughter 5 who self weaned at 28 months. my younger daughter has severe medical problems and it can get extremely stressful with her many near death experiences, nevertheless oldest daughter ask to nurse after a very difficult month of high emotions from myself reacting to younger daughter- I am not lactating, I felt a little weird, but decided it wouldn’t hurt and she asked several times since, in the interim, I ask her why she wanted to nurse and if she wanted to be held and so on she is back to co sleeping. My feeling of weirdness came with the possibility of a neighbor noticing 😉 – Thanks so much for sharing. She is ever fortunate to have a mom putting her needs before society.


326 Jessie B May 13, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Omgoodness, I loooove this so much! Like seriously, my eyes were teary. We have two bio daughters. My first I nursed until she was 16 months old. I wanted to nurse her for longer but the combination of how pushy she was about wanting to nurse all the time (we’re talking all night loooong and if I didn’t, she screamed at the top of her lungs for hours) and how my friends and husband were always asking when I was going to stop nursing her- just wore me down and I quit. My second daughter, I decided I would nurse until whenever she wanted to stop. Which sadly (at least, to me sad) was at 13 months. She’s 16 months now and I still try to get her to nurse but she’s not interested at all. We’re on the adoption list for up to 4 years old right now and I was sad thinking that maybe he wouldn’t want to nurse but this gives me some hope that maybe even if he’s an older toddler we can. Thank you so much for sharing this!


327 Kathleen May 16, 2013 at 6:38 pm

what an amazing mama you are!!!! You and the twins were both blessed by one another. Thank you for sharing that story..I am a tandem nursing mom to my 2 baby girls who are 16 months apart.


328 Erika May 16, 2013 at 8:36 pm

I just wanted to thank you for being such an amazing mom. If only other mothers (adoptees or not) would have your instincts there would be more happier and well adjusted children in this world.
Thank you and bless your heart.


329 Abby May 17, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Lovely and fabulous, thank you for sharing your story!


330 Hillary June 1, 2013 at 10:30 pm

This story is beautiful, inspiring and courageous! My biological son will be 2 next Thursday and breastfeeds at least a few times a day still…I joke that he would nurse til he goes to college if he could. Ha! But seriously, you have provided your daughters with something that some adoptive children miss out on…safe attachment, trust, and unexplainable love. My heart is bigger tonight in knowing that humans like you exist in the world. I couldn’t be happier for your daughters. And you. :) Thank you for sharing your story.


331 Michelle L June 2, 2013 at 12:09 am

What you are doing is amazing, on so many different levels! Thanks for sharing your story! You are an awesome mom :)


332 Thankful Mom June 9, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Beautiful. It would have never occurred to me to nurse my adopted toddler but I have been inspired by the stories of moms who have done it and now we are enjoying the miracle of adoptive breastfeeding and my little one’s heart is beginning to heal. Thank you for sharing!


333 Busy Mommy DXB June 11, 2013 at 6:48 am

What an amazing and beautiful story. Inspiration really. Being able to push aside your own reservations for your child’s needs is the sign of a great mother.


334 DeeLee101 June 11, 2013 at 11:50 pm

We adopted two bio brothers at ages 7 and 10. They have a sister then only 10 months old. I was planning induced lactation for her but she was adopted by a relative a couple of months before we went overseas to get them. So we came home with just the boys. I speak their first language so we could always communicate. They regressed and we met their needs as they expressed them. I did balk at breastfeeding fearing that others might see it as abuse. I did bottle feed only in my arms with eye contact. We carried them every where for a year. When my younger son was anxious he held my breast. Our job that first year was to bond and become a family. It went very well and I think helped us through those difficult years when their job is to differentiate from us. They had rootts and could fashion their own wings.


335 Emekashi July 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Im an older mom had natural childbirth no fertility drugs or anything when I was 44 gave birth to healthy child. I breastfed my child until the child naturally weaned at the age of almost 6.

He was never sick. He got a couple of mild colds that lasted less than 24 hours the nursing on so many levels did so much for him. The coating of elements in the brain (mylenization) that is the benefit of nursing is so beneficial to the child’s brain in youth and elder age. I understand the strength of the “pharmaceutical” establishment to misinform and misinformation dissuades people from nursing and that is really such a sad comment on society. My sister and I both breast fed our children until they weaned close to the age of 6. (after age three the child’s breastfeeding is much less frequent, maybe a suckle for a few minutes every few days, but nonetheless the nutritional supplement in the breast milk is important for them.) So my sister was the only woman I could talk candidly about breastfeeding with and we both agreed the hardest part of breastfeeding was the societal pressure NOT to.

Good work to you for supporting your daughter this way. It will go a long way on so many levels. And kudos for following your mom instincts they never fail :)


336 Adoptive mom July 8, 2013 at 5:43 pm

That was a lovely story. In case you ever adopt an infant and want to induce lactation naturally, this is just to let you know it can be done. In India (where I’m from) women in rural areas commonly practise adoptive breastfeeding with no medication and the baby’s suckling alone is often enough to induce lactation. I have never been pregnant; I adopted my daughter when she was a month old and only started to use a breast pump (upto six times a day!) after she came home as the adoption happened quite suddenly. I got drops of milk exactly a week later — with no hormonal supplements, though I did take a very low dose of domperidone for that one week, before giving it up and switching to fenugreek. I then nursed my baby (supplementing with an SNS) till she was a year old, and though I did continue to produce a little milk, the closeness and bonding was definitely the most important part of it all…


337 Eff Kay July 14, 2013 at 1:47 am

I am so grateful to have found this post. My daughter, who is now 6, was placed with us just before her 5th birthday. To make a long story short, I have been nursing her with an SNS since the day about 2 months after she came to us when she whipped up my shirt and latched on. It was one of the most primal, desperate things I’ve ever seen another human do. I have days when I have serious reservations about continuing (she getting her permanent teeth for pete’s sake) but don’t think I could call myself any kind of mother if I denied her this profound source of comfort and nurture. Physically, she may be 6 but emotionally and psychologically, she is much younger.


338 MommaJ July 16, 2013 at 5:27 am

My daughter sent me the link to this post.

Zoe, I think you must be a wonderful mother. You listened to what your child needed, and you provided it for her. You responded instinctively, as a mother.

I think you’re beautiful, and I’m a big fan of your mother-in-law, too.

And super proud that my daughter thinks this is an awesome story, too. She’s going to be a very good mother one day, as well.

Thank you so much for posting this.


339 Cindy July 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Reading through some of the comments, I’m kind of on the opposite side of the fence. My 10 month old is already starting to wean himself, nursing maybe once a day, sometimes twice if I’m lucky, and even then only for about 30 seconds each time, max. He can go for days without nursing and it’s kind of breaking my heart but I don’t want to force him to do it if he’s ready to move on. He’s actually about 50/50 with eating table food and baby foods, since he’s got a big brother he likes to copy. (My older son is 2.5) So hard to let go; for as much as some children need to be nursed for longer than what American society considers “normal”, some mommies *ahem*me*ahem* need to accept when her children don’t need to nurse anymore. *sigh*


340 Luschka October 12, 2013 at 5:06 am

Around 10 months children often experience a nursing strike. Mothers often assume that means they’re weaning and stop offering, or just accept that it’s time to move on. Often if you let the child decide, they’ll go back to nursing. It’s a common misconception and is sad because people miss out on a lot of the non-nutritional benefits of breastmilk because they simply didn’t know better. Of course some children will never go back, and that’s fine too, if they were ready :)


341 Stephanie July 29, 2013 at 6:20 am

Your article made me cry. What an amazing momma you are to those sweeties! <3


342 Ruth Abel August 1, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Thank you so much for your bravery. Your courage as a mother is inspiring. I nursed my daughter, and am now nursing my son, and my husband are just beginning the adoption process. Nursing is very important to me, and when I struggled in the first weeks with my son, there were so many resources available to get us on track. But nursing an adopted child? Slim pickings, especially in the testimonial category. Thank you for adding your voice and experience. I am encouraged by your story!


343 Melissa August 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Your children are so lucky to have you! Your story, their story, is so touching and I am so thankful there are adoptive parents our there who will put their children’s needs first, let them lead, and build the relationship from the ground up.


344 MamaRos August 2, 2013 at 5:54 pm

You have given your daughters the beautiful gift of unconditional love and acceptance in a way they understand. THAT is good parenting!


345 Mary Cole August 2, 2013 at 6:15 pm

This is so beautiful, thanks for sharing it.


346 SandyK August 4, 2013 at 5:20 pm

You are a truly phenomenal mother. Your kids are lucky to have you.


347 Beth August 5, 2013 at 11:12 pm

So, basically you’re just letting your adoptive daughter suck on your tit for comfort? That seems extremely creepy. Breastfeeding is meant to nourish children, not provide comfort when you don’t know what to do. Learn other way to deal with her emotional issues. This is disgusting.


348 J August 6, 2013 at 12:44 am

Ah “tit” “suck on your tit” is even better.
…It is a great reminder to us that we still like a misogynistic culture that delights in the objectification of women and tries to degrade us to nothing more that sex objects, or ‘tits and ass’ …

Actually, adoptive breastfeeding is not uncommon in non-lactating primates and other mammals. Breastfeeding is absolutely about comfort and soothing, especially during severe trauma like the girls have had. If you truly are interested in this topic I suggest contacting Dr. Karleen Gribble. She will direct you to research and other resources regarding the subject.

I’m sure Zoe appreciates your suggestion, or rather command to her. However, considering you are clearly not an expert on this topic, nor does she know you anymore than you IP address, I’m assuming she is going to skip your unsolicited advice.

Your comment serves no other purpose than trying to bully another mother on the internet. It’s sad, really. This advice was given to this public forum where it will be helpful to a lot of mothers with similar situations. Commenting out of ignorance because you’re afraid of what you don’t understand is helping no one. What a waste of time.

To mothers who are reading this and need support, do not let ignorant comments stop you from doing what is right for your child. The social climate is quickly changing, and we understand that support among the community is important. But you have support! Also, look at the dissenting voices, are they giving their thoughts out of love and compassion? Are they backing up their concerns with research? Or is it mainly from people using slang and social slurs to try to make you feel insecure so you will do what makes them feel comfortable? If it is the latter (which it almost always is) think of your responsibility as a parent first, and a conforming member of society second. You don’t get a second chance raising your children, We get one shot with each child. Parent for their needs, not the ignorance of society. They are too important.


349 Beth August 7, 2013 at 11:34 am

I am allowed to have and voice my opinion, just as you are. I fully believe in breastfeeding. I breastfed my own child and wouldn’t change that for anything. She was weaned and it has never been used to calm her down. I’ve learned other ways to soothe my child. Read a few books. The thought of pulling out my boob and saying “calm down sweetheart and suck on my tit for a minute” makes me nauseous. This isn’t doing your child any good. Its like parents who let their child use a binky until they’re 5. Instead of fixing the problem, you’re just masking it, in the creepiest way possible. This almost seems like child abuse to me.


350 MommaJ August 7, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Beth, you refer to a woman’s breast as a “tit” and talk about “pulling it out”… yet say another woman is “creepy”? Your disrespectful words when discussing breastfeeding is creepy, to be honest. You come across more like a 17-year-old boy with a bad attitude about women than a breastfeeding mother.

As for letting a child use a “binky” until they are 5 – you realize that throughout almost all of human history, children have normally nursed until they were 5, right? It’s a natural response for a child that age to want to suckle. It’s part of our evolution.

And if you think that the ONLY benefit to breastfeeding is nutrition, then you seem to have missed the plethora of studies that have been done to indicate there are many more benefits to breastfeeding than just the nutritional value to the child.

Your ignorance can be excused, but your nastiness really can’t.


351 Rachel October 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm

As we are give such freedoms and speech is one of them Krista your views are your views.

Zoe your story is brave and a very loving one. Breast feeding our children and/or allowing them suckle to soothe is very natural.
Our society is so twisted into finding the horror of allowing an adopted preschooler nurse, or biological toddler /older child or foster child to be nursed is unbelievable to me.
If a woman is willing and able one would think we would encourage this in our hospitals as well. There as many children who need this and I find your stories could be written by many who hide in the dark in great efforts to care for the children in need. Such as the post from a friend of a mother who was dying. She comforted that child even though he was not her own. Such compassion.
Thank you…for YOUR compassion to the needs of your children.

352 JustMe August 16, 2013 at 10:48 am

Wow – you are amazing! I’m not sure what I would have done had a child of not only that age had reached for my breast, but also not being my biological child. Also, I’m one of those moms who will breastfeed anywhere, any time, openly as can be without a care what someone thinks…with one of my own infants anyway. I think allowing her to breastfeed will help her tremendously for years to come! Again, you are an amazing mother, and I’m glad those babies have you!

I was looking this up because I will be picking up my niece today. She is 6 days old and I’m so very anxious about all of it (long story, but my brother and his wife are just not in a good place right now, I also have their 10-year-old daughter). I have five sons and have breastfed all of them with the exception of my first son (breastfeeding wasn’t as encouraged back in the early 90s as it was later on, so sadly he and I missed out). I’m happy to say, though, he and I have a very strong bond and he’s always been very healthy.

At any rate, my husband and I have been having babies for 22 years. My oldest is obviously 22, and then we have a 16-year-old, a 10-year-old (plus my niece who is 10), a 3-year-old, and my newest son is 11 months old. I am still breastfeeding him and I would like to try and breastfeed my newborn niece who I will be picking up later today. I know she will not get the wonderful benefits of the “first milk,” but I would like to breastfeed her and see how it goes. I pray she does not reject me. My heart breaks for her because she doesn’t understand what’s going on, and she has spent the last five days with her mother…and I feel like the bad guy. Poor baby :(

Now back to you…lol KUDOS to you for being such a wonderful, loving, and caring mother!! Wish all mothers were like you.


353 Ana Luisa Monge-Naranjo August 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Hello JustMe,
I love your story and your example. There is a Facebook group called “Adoptive breastfeeding”, where I’m sure you’ll find a lot of support and good advice to your idea of nursing this little one.


354 JustMe August 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Thanks! She is taking to the breast with no problem at all! Pretty impressive little angel, she is! It was a little “different” at first, but now it’s like it is with my baby boy…just pop her on and we’re good to go! lol I’m still giving her some bottles until my body realizes it needs to produce more milk, so I plan to stop that in a week or so.

Thanks again for the information! 😉


355 Rachel October 10, 2013 at 3:03 pm

See how natural it is……


356 JustMe October 21, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Yes, ma’am, but sadly it was cut short when I was informed that while she is a ward of the state, I’m not allowed to breastfeed her…so I sneak the breast feeds at night, that way I can just give her her bottle if DCF pops in to check on her and she’s needing to eat.

My brother and SIL are still “trying” to get her back. By trying I mean, getting lucky and not getting caught via a drug test. I fear they may actually be able to skim by the next four months (their case plan is supposedly only six months) and not get popped and may get her back… What do you think would happen to the baby girl if she no longer had her nightly breast feeds. Wow…I seriously just now thought of that. It would break my heart if she were missing it…then again, it’s going to kill me anyway, if they do get her back :( I can only hope and pray they do not…because they have not changed at all!! They’re just very good at being fakes and phonies!

357 Emmelie Gustavssob August 26, 2013 at 11:24 am

What an amazing and absolutely wonderful mother you are. This post brought tears to my eyes. I am swedish and here it is absolutely 100 percent given that you do breastfeed if possible and it would never be a problem to do so in public but even tho its like that here I believe not many would have done what you have and I know America is very different when it comes to BF. I salute you and you have inspired me to do the same if we ever adopt (we do not yet have any children since we havnt started trying yet). I think youre so amazing.


358 Mrs. Uzra Khatoon August 29, 2013 at 3:09 am

Hello Zoe,
I am Uzra from India. I am having 4 biological children and breastfed them all between ages 4 to close to 6. Although I did not have the problem of nursing adopted children, I have had regular breastfeeding sharing experience with my co-wife and occasionally with two of my friends. All of us have had good bondage with each other and especially with the co-wife such sharing much eased our day-to-day life. I am writing to you to congratulate you on your right decision in breastfeeding the adopted children and also to inform you and others that the type of community breast-feeding you observed in Ethiopia also exists in some form elsewhere also. Those who wish to have further exchange of ideas on this subject may get in touch with me at .


359 rsv September 12, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I just stumbled across this, and wanted to add my experience.
I breastfed my adopted daughter, who was adopted at birth, through a combination of inducing lactation (yes, w/the help of medication), as well as a supplemental nursing system. We were amazingly lucky also to have found a breast milk donor nearby, so in addition to the benefits of nursing, she also got the benefits of 100% breastmilk.
I weaned her at 1 yr, mostly because i really needed to get off the meds. However, in the past 6 months — she is now 2 1/2 — there have been occasions when we are snuggling in the morning or other times and she asks for some of mommy’s “milk,” and I willingly give it to her. She almost always wants to nurse on both sides, and it may last just a minute or two to five minutes, and then she’s done. I have no problem doing this — and even encouraging it — for all the reasons you write about.
So glad to hear of someone else doing this!!


360 Dana September 19, 2013 at 4:51 pm

First I would like to thank you, Zoe, for your lovly and open story, and for the courage to be yourself and let your girls be themselves too.

I have struggled for 4 months with my premature daughter who could not latch on (I did express milk for her), and went from mastitis to mastitis, until I came across a lactation adviser who 1. Told me recurrent mastitis is (apparently always) caused by an yeast infection and 2. Helped me help my girl latch on. Until then I was experiencing serious attachment issues, my daughter refused to look at us, refused to respond in any way, I was depressed, unable to sooth my child who cried almost the entire time she was awake… Anyway, 2 days after meeting this wonderful lady, my daughter managed to get all her meals at the breast, and at some point, in the middle of a nursing session, while I was looking at her and wondering if she drinks enough, stressing that I forgot to weigh her before nursing and now I won’t know how much she drank, she suddenly stops nursing, looks at me, gives me a big smile, and then resumes nursing like it was the most natural thing in the world. It was the beginning of our bonding and, as I noticed later on, the end of her autistic-like behaviour, probably caused by all she had gone through in the NICU. I could not agree more with the importance of sucking at the breast for phychological comfort, beyond the nutricion of the milk itself. She had been getting my milk before that already.

I would also like to thank Zoe for opening my eyes (and my heart) to the adoption of older children. Like someone said before, after seeing what it meant to my daughter, I cannot conceive motherhood (albeit of an adoptive child) without breastfeeding. My husband and I want to adopt and because of the BF aspect we thought we should insist on getting a new born. Thank to Zoe’s post I am now convinced that we would manage to bond with an older child as well. What an eye opener was this article! Thanks again Zoe!

And because of the above comments concerning the absence of comfort suckling in mammals other than humans, I would like to share my cat’s story, which amazed me at the time and still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. My female cat never had kittens and was sterilized at 4 years old and was 5 years old when I decided to adopt a 7 weeks old male kitten to keep her company because she seemed a bit lonely. He was fully weaned (albeit a bit hurried and pushed by the owner). Within a couple of days she started licking him and after a few more days he started sucking on her milkless nipples. He did it almost all the time at first. As if to make up for all the sucking he had missed with his own mum. She licked and washed him extensively every time and I was relieved they got along well. He grew well with all that care and soon he was a strong tomcat, as big as she was. But he did continue to suck on one of her nipples, and she never refused him. Not once. At 1 year old he was nearly twice as big as she was. She retorted to licking his head only because she could not reach further while he kept on suckling. It went on well into his third year of life. And then he stopped, just like it had started, without any intervention from my part. All I ever did was watching them fondly (in the beginning) and gawking at them half in wonder and half in disbelief (after a while). I still can’t believe she has put up with the discomfort of dry sucking for 2 years. I know it’s just a silly cat story but this has given me such a lesson in motherhood, I thought it might be nice to share.


361 Lisa V Fleming October 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm

I spent just over 2 years being a breastfeeding support counselor. I really applaud your effort to bond with your children. I LOVE your story and am proud to know of someone that has done such a selfless loving deed.
I helped birth moms all the time learn to breastfeed or learn to stop feeding in a manner that kept the baby secure in the parents love and understanding. Breastfeeding adoptive children is something not many can believe will happen. There is even a device called a SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) for that type of need. Congrats, good luck, and thank you!!!


362 Rebecca Bahret October 10, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Mama, you are amazing. Your story made my heart hurt – in a totally good way. Thank you so much, not only for being so willing to attend to the true needs of your children, but for being brave enough to share your journey with us.


363 Amy October 10, 2013 at 11:34 pm

I think that this is wonderful! And, I do believe that I would have done the same thing. Breastfeeding is a wonderfully bonding experience between mother and child. Not only were you giving your children what they needed to feel safe, you were teaching them what it is to have a mother again.

I’ve often tried to explain to those who never nursed or only did so to one year old what it is like to nurse a toddler or preschooler. Your description of your child coming over and wanting to nurse only to latch for a minute or two and then wander off happy as can be is so typical! I stopped nursing in public around age 2 but did pop into a nursing room from time to time to calm those little troubles. Only a small amount of time, a bit of closeness and a snuggle and she was on her way.

Congratulations to you for showing the world another way, for having the courage to tell this story and for being the best mom you can be!


364 Sue October 11, 2013 at 9:33 am

Your piece was very moving and what you’re doing is wonderful! I am not an adoptive mom but am a mom to a two year old who has been breastfed. The bond you are creating is so incredibly important to the development of a solid foundation for your little ones. I applaud what you’re doing! Congratulations!


365 Jenny October 11, 2013 at 9:52 am

Thanks for sharing your story. You are an amazing mother. Wise and intuitive and loving and open-hearted. Sometimes it’s just so hard to get past the cultural messages we’ve taken in, our own discomfort, other people’s discomfort, etc to do the right thing. I applaud your love and courage in finding the way. You are your daughters’ home.


366 tanna October 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm

You are an amazing woman, that is what I think about it. I would be willing to do the exact same thing! I have a 9 month old biological daughter that is exclusively breastfed. She is getting to the age that I am starting to get the “Well when are you going to wean her?” questions. My answer, whenever she is ready!


367 Rachel Perez October 11, 2013 at 1:16 pm

What a beautiful story! Brought tears to my eyes. I love breast feeding my 3 mo old biological son! Until recently I didn’t know you could breast feed adoptive children. That is so great! What a wonderful mom


368 JustMe October 11, 2013 at 1:26 pm

I’m still breastfeeding my niece. I got her at 5 days old and was worried she wouldn’t take it, but she did! She’s 8 weeks old now. I don’t breastfeed exclusively, though, just for night feedings. I’ve been told I was not “allowed” to breastfeed her while she is still a ward of the state. Either way, at least she is getting some benefit.

Oh, and sadly my 1-year-old weaned himself :( He wanted his sippy cup and doesn’t even care about breastfeeding anymore. My fourth son, though, I didn’t think he’d ever stop! He breastfed till he was 19 months!

I’m sure going to miss being pregnant, having babies, and breastfeeding, but I’m getting too old for it at 41…and tired, and broke. lol It’s going to be hard to let go of that part of my life, though.


369 Leah October 11, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Beautiful story! Thank you for sharing this. As a society in North America, we have become so self-focused that we forget about children and their biological/emotional needs sometimes. Once a child is over a year, breastfeeding/nursing is mainly about attachment and nurturing and less about nutrition. I think we forget that in our culture. Even in younger babies one could argue that the emotional aspects of nursing a baby are as important (and possibly more important) as the food the babe is getting.

Again thank you for your courage in sharing a seemingly awkard and very touching story.


370 bre dale October 11, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Beautiful story and amazing that a mother’s touch can calm their little ones, no matter what age. I’m proud of you for doing what you felt was needed. I’ve been breastfeeding for 9 months now.


371 Lyndia Storey October 11, 2013 at 7:33 pm

I nursed my youngest adopted child until he was about 6 months when he stopped nursing. I did not have milk and did not get milk…. he liked the closeness and the nurturing so I did not nurse him when he was hungry… well I attempted to with a tube near my breast with milk…. it wasn’t pleasant for either of us. I made a wonderful goat milk formula and have since that time used it for a number of other children who have now or previously been undernourished (failure to thrive children or ones who have been malnourished) If anyone is interested, you can e-mail me for the formula. I have studied brain development over the years and the proper nutrition and nurturing are what make the difference in children who thrive and those that “hang on”. With adopted children, they need all of the additional assistance they can get. My youngest adopted “nursed” son is 23… so at the time I was doing this it was a novel event! For the formula, Lyndia11@gmail.com


372 TDG October 11, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Good for you momma! The decision we make as mothers – it feels like they are always up for scrutiny. You gave your daughters an amazing gift.


373 Miriam Connor October 12, 2013 at 2:21 am

I love your blog. A friend shared it on fb.Thank you. I breast fed for six years in total. My daughter fed for two and a half years through the time of her father’s cancer and death. Everyone told me to stop as there was too much to manage; fitting in feeds with the hospice etc. seemed ludicrous to most.
I eventually gave in and sought advice from a breast feeding counsellor.
I had the good fortune that the WHO report from Bosnia had just been released stating that the rape victims who had been discouraged from feeding their children had the poorest outcome of trauma recovery as did their children. So I continued to feed grateful to know this.
I was telling a visiting friend who is a refugee from Africa. She told me that when she eventually got to visit her mother after her fourth sibling died of AIDS while this friend was in exile. She cried hysterically for hours in her mothers arms. When she left to go to bed she found herself rushing back and latching on to her mother’s breast. Almost immediately she became self conscious of being 32 years of age and wondered what madness had led her to do it. Then she looked up into her mother’s smiling eyes and realised that she had remembered too.
I am so happy for your daughters have you as their Mom. Go well.

p.s. you have my website but I am new to social media and the fb page of my book is more established. Mary Had Stretch Marks https://www.facebook.com/MaryHadStretchmarks?ref=hl
It is our journey back to happiness through Shay’s illness and death. It is about the joy of honest friendship.


374 Lori October 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm

I believe the closeness & bonding it this way is sometimes therapeutic in itself for both mother & child… Breastfeeding (as a baby) begins as both a nurturing & bonding between mother & child… Just because an age is reached or milk is no longer produced doesn’t make it any less nurturing for them both, just more on a spiritual level (than just milk for nutrition)… Really make you think why it is so frowned upon to nurse at certain ages (even baby age)…


375 Luschka October 12, 2013 at 4:58 am

Your mother in law’s reaction brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful. Also, I still nurse my 4 year old on occasion and I would struggle to do so in most public situations, so don’t feel bad about that. It’s natural to not WANT to be criticized.


376 S. Nicoletta Rogers October 12, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Beautiful story! I applaud you for doing this for your (adopted) daughter AND for sharing your story with the world!!

I nursed all three of my own children for about three years each. When my youngest (the boy, the other two are girls) was about six years old he asked one day if he could try nursing again to see if there was any milk left. I had left his father when Ben was four and he stayed living with his dad, seeing me only on weekends!

I hesitated at first, but then decided to let him try. He did only for a few seconds, then pulled away and laughed and that was the end of it.

Anyway, thanks again for sharing!


377 Kimmie Spencer October 12, 2013 at 6:10 pm

I love this! Kudos to you Mama!! I only have one hand at the moment due to baby on the breast so I’m making this short, lol 😉


378 Myia Obrien October 12, 2013 at 7:16 pm

You go girl! I think what your doing is WONDERFUL and amazing! I can see why it can feel weird, I would probably feel the same way, but kudos to you for letting this poor girl get the connection she needs so badly! Rock on mom!


379 Lori October 12, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Did you actually produce milk again or did you just nurse her without milk being there? Just curious because my almost 3 year old grabs my breast sometimes & I stopped producing milk since she self-weaned when she was a little over a year because she was more interested in testing out her new teeth on food… So I don’t know what to tell my daughter… I don’t have milk for her…


380 Laura Gordillo October 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm

I am currently breastfeeding my 19 month old biological daughter; and am always asked, “when are you going to wean her”. I feel that this question is asked because the individual is 1. not informed on the benefits of breastfeeding and 2. not informed on the benefits of child lead weaning. On top of that the connection and security that my child receives from having the ability to nurse is amazing. Like you said, it provides security and reinsurance. I hope to be able to continue to breastfeed for as long as my daughter finds it necessary. I can only hope that I have the strength to say yes to her while answering to all of the naysayers that I come across in my day-to-day life. I can just take one day at a time and pray that god gives me the strength to do what is best for my child. I am so happy that you have shared your story, it is very inspirational.


381 Katie October 13, 2013 at 7:31 am

I think you are an amazing mother, you are bonding with your daughter and giving her something she really needs. Thank you for sharing your story, what an amazing women you are. God bless.


382 KarlaW October 13, 2013 at 11:20 am

I had an unwanted abrupt weaning with my eldest son during my next pregnancy when I became quite ill (lost 20 lbs in 5 days, hospitalized). I felt so awful about the physical weaning that I found myself withdrawing from my son emotionally too. He was about 22m at age of weaning. After his brother was born, he had behavior regression. Finally, a year after our unwanted weaning, I offered to nurse him. He continued nursing until just after his 5th birthday.

I kept it a secret for a while because it seemed so odd to start nursing 12 months after weaning but we finally started telling people and I was amazed by the support we had. Looking back, it was one of the best things we could have done. This did much to heal our relationship. He is now in his 20s and our relationship continues to be strong.

So I know it’s not quite the same thing as he wasn’t adopted. But I wanted to tell you I truly understand and think the gift you give your adopted children is beautiful.


383 Heather October 13, 2013 at 11:42 am

Such an amazing post, I admire you on so many levels. Breast feeding is an amazing bond. I am nursing a 15 month old. Kudus to you for bonding in this way. Know that you have many women out there who support you for every one that gives you flack.


384 Ashley Bender October 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm

I think you are an amazing mother! Thank you for sharing. I have (and still am) nursing two biological children, it is a bond and a need that children need. You go Mama!!


385 Comadrona October 13, 2013 at 5:40 pm

You are their mum now, do whatever you need to to bond with your children and make them feel secure. I wonder if they had had that breastfeeding experience with their birth mother, whether she would have even been able to give them up1 It is amazingly powerful. Go for it!


386 Debbie October 13, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Years ago, I was 22 years young and married my husband who had two children. The youngest was the one I had thoughts to nurse, but never did. I reflect on that many times, as this little guy had a learning disability and experienced much hardships in his life, and I struggled with the bonding to him for many years. I say, so do what you feel in your gut, because it is probably right. I did nurse all five of my other children after they were born. I wish I would have listened to myself back then. That son is almost 40 now and rarely comes to see me even though we love each other.


387 Michelle October 13, 2013 at 10:08 pm

I have never responded to a blog before but your spoke to me…I am an adoptive mom of 3 (hopefully 4), the last 3 through the foster system. When my 6 year came to me (I was her 4th placement in her 6 months of life) she was suffering from lack of attachment…I listened to her needs and eventually she would crawl under my shirt and lay on my chest with her blanket and pacifier…it was such a victory as she had resisted being held or rocked until then. I would have loved to breastfeed but as foster children (first) I am not allowed but this was a way for her and I to bond…I cherished those moments. I have since adopted her, her biological sister and am fostering her biological brother.

Good for you for reading your children’s needs…you are a great mama


388 Beth October 14, 2013 at 1:55 am

I think it is so important that women share the extended breastfeeding stories or methods that seem unusual to Americans, but are the norm in the world. Thanks so much for sharing. Both my children nursed until they were 3 and some months. My boy was born very early and I had a very difficult time making milk. It was through a very patient, open, lactation specialist that I finally came to the conclusion that making full milk wasn’t necessary. That making some was enough. I have no idea why my little boy was so patient and wanted to nurse so long when I barely made milk, but he did. I was so lucky to have people around me and a health insurance plan that supported breastfeeding. The 2nd time around I had the support from the start and more knowledge (and less trauma, she was only 4 weeks early) and it took me 2 months but I reached full milk. So many women try to nurse ‘in the dark’ without support. Women who go past a few months don’t know how many of us are still nursing too. And we need to know that sometimes nursing isn’t about getting any milk at all. It is just about being connected.


389 Zoe Saint-Paul October 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Just a word of thanks to all of you who have shared your thoughts, encouragement and experiences above with me — I really appreciate it!

It is now six months after I wrote this post and my daughters no longer ask to nurse. I know it was just part of the early attachment process and am grateful so many of you were able to understand why I chose to go with my gut on this. I have two very attached daughters now and I know a big part of it was being super sensitive to the attachment and bonding process and meeting their needs as best I could.


390 Chrissy October 14, 2013 at 5:58 pm

I love your mother- in -law.


391 Tracey October 14, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Bravo. Good for you. Love those babies in every way you can…


392 Michelle H October 14, 2013 at 9:06 pm

This is a wonderful story! While I have no experience with adoption, I did wet nurse one of my nieces until she decided not to have any more (around a year, and I even asked her if she wanted to nurse & she refused). My niece was 2 – 3 years old for our nursing relationship. My daughter, breastfed from birth, is still joyously nursing at 2 years and 5 months! I plan on allowing her to self wean, although I know that dry nursing isn’t for me…too painful. If it gets to that point, we’ll just have to snuggle a lot.

No one in my family has been breastfed over the 1 year mark – I caught a lot of flak for wanting to go just to the age of 3 years. Now that I’m doing it, I don’t keep it a secret, but there’s not anywhere near as much discouragement coming my way. And the bond…I wouldn’t give that up if my whole family decided to never speak to me again! As any full-term nursing mama can testify, my daughter isn’t overly attached to me, I don’t have mental/emotional issues driving my decision, and there’s not any real independence problems.

Zoe, I’m glad to hear you followed your daughters’ needs & now they’ve decided to put that part of their lives behind them. :) If I ever adopt young ones, I hope to be as brave as you.


393 Julie October 15, 2013 at 10:36 am

I just want to applaud you for following your gut instincts and doing what is best for your children!!! I have 5 biological children and I breastfed all of them, the last 2 the longest (20-22 months). In America the average age to wean a child is 6 weeks and I believe this is mostly due to women working and finding it too inconvenient to pump breastmilk (or like in my case my milk would dry up if I pumped it). Anyway, I had several confrontations about breastfeeding from it being against the law to breastfeed in public – whether covered up or not, to “there’s a bathroom for that” to “I can’t believe you are still breastfeeding!”. Breasts in America seem to be only a sexual object instead of what they are designed to do and that is to nourish our children. However, back when I was nursing I learned that the average worldwide age to ween a child was between 3 and 5 years old. I knew in my heart I was doing what was best for them. Your children know you love them when you go against what others tell you to do and you do what they need. Good for you!


394 Rita October 15, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Thank you for sharing. What a lovely story and a lovely mama you are to your new children. <3 I hope you four have a fantastic life together <3


395 Amanda October 15, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story and also to all for the supportive comments. I am still nursing my four year old and in great conflict about whether to allow her to self-wean (she shows no signs of doing so any time soon) and forcing the issue before she’s five due to criticism from the few people who know (my own mother being the loudest critic!) I love your comment about putting your daughters needs above your own cultural bias. I think this blog may just have given me the strength to do that. My friend M-L, a lactation consultant says to women breastfeeding their older child ‘keep your blouse and your mouth shut and it’ll be fine!’


396 Fellow_EBF_Mama October 17, 2013 at 11:57 am

Hey Amanda – I also have a four year old who is not ready to give it up. She has a younger brother who is also nursing. My family doesn’t know, as they are highly critical of the 20 month old nursing, much less an older child. She has cut back greatly lately, mostly from my gentle encouragement but also from some natural weaning, and told me this morning that she “misses it so, so much mommy, I just miss it so much.” It was a reminder that I’ve allowed her to continue because it’s about HER, not about what others think. It’s still one way that she connects with me. I’m still committed to letting her self wean, even though she is getting older. I’ve been adding in more “mama dates” and other ways for her to connect to me as well, so she is naturally tapering off frequency of asking to nurse. Just wanted to encourage you to do what you feel is right for her and for you – which fortunately is what most of this comment thread has become – and that you are not alone in your quest to nurture your child as an individual, even in face of criticism. Keep up the good work mama.


397 Zosia October 16, 2013 at 5:38 pm

I am not an adoptive mum (or an adopted child) but some years ago I was part of a research team in Ireland, doing a large study on inter-country adoption. This is just to let you know that I have met many mums who have tried it and loved it, or wanted to try it and seriously considered it. Also, adoption literature reports that breastfeeding occurs in adoptive families as a way to bond and form attachments. As a child psychologist I whole-heartedly agree that if you and your children are comfortable with the whole idea, you should go for it and enjoy it as much as you can. Breastfeeding does promote attachment in adoptive families, it is not just the feeding part that matters. If the original attachments were severed, and the children are working hard at creating new ones, doing what is done in biologically tied families from the moment the baby is born, is the way to go. I think you’re doing a fantastic job. Thank you!


398 natan October 18, 2013 at 2:50 am

the mammary glands of all humans..male female..intersexed..etc.produce fluid..”milk”..if the gland is stimulated..one will lactate..eventually..no pills or ‘chemicals’ needed…infants r born with ‘milk’ in their breasts..and if sucked on..will ‘lactate’..in early taoist (china)..culture infants were given 2 the elders..who suckled them..and the babies milk was a ‘fountain of youth’..in our culture..we refer to this infant milk as ‘witches milk’..which speaks so sadly and strongly to our breast/heart dysfunction..we r here 2 nurture and sustain each other from the depths of our heart..in prisoner of war ..eg..holocaust, japanese internment starvation conditions..all humans under these extreme circumstances will leak fluid from their breasts!..and the deep deep message is: we can feed each other and we will not starve…love thy neighbor as thyself!..what a radical idea..thank u 4 posting zoe..it’s my daughters name..it means LIFE..YES! xox


399 Krystle October 18, 2013 at 9:37 pm

What a beautiful and selfless inspiring story! I have 2 biological children (who I breastfeed until I ran out of milk. both right around their 2nd birthdays) but my husband and I are also planning on adopting.

Your story is just so touching! Thank you for sharing!!! And kuddos on being such a great mommy!! What a blessing you are in those girls lives!


400 Katie October 19, 2013 at 4:21 am

I’m not an adoptive mom. I’m not a mom at all. Those girls are lucky they got you. I can’t imagine adoption is easy for either party, especially older children. Knowing they had a “parent” (I only use in quotes because, how were they to know) they could trust…was probably everything. Bravo! Stay strong. :)


401 Kristy Goforth November 7, 2013 at 11:52 am

I nursed my son for one yr, and I am currently nursing my 2 yr old daughter until she decides we are done. I just want to say I think what you are doing is amazing! Your children are blessed to have you.


402 Krystina November 7, 2013 at 8:32 pm

This is truly amazing! I breast fed my daughter the first 3 months and would have loved to do it longer. I never thought of this when my (birth) daughter tried to put mine in her mouth after I got out of the shower one day. I still do the skin to skin bonding especially while she’s sick or just having a hard day. I just wanted to say thank you because this has really made me think!


403 Laurel November 14, 2013 at 11:33 pm

What a great read and thank you for sharing your experience. I’m encouraged to hear from others who support/have done nursing for adopted children.


404 Carolie November 15, 2013 at 12:14 am

I admire you, and I have to admit, I’m a wee bit jealous. I tried very hard to induce lactation with a pump and an IBCLC (couldn’t take hormones)…came close, but was unsuccessful, and our adopted infant daughter had NO interest. Luckily, I was able to source donor milk for her from 23 generous mamas until she was 21 months old.

I really wish we could bring our culture back to the point of seeing breasts as primarily for feeding and nurturing children!


405 Miriam Connor November 15, 2013 at 3:27 am

Just grinning thinking of this lucky child to have a Mum that cared enough to get donated milk and all those women supporting. It take a village to raise a child and I love the idea that you gave this little being such a welcome. Congrats x And I do commiserate about not being able to make it happen for yourself as it is a precious experience but it is clear how much you love your daughter as she was the priority and in a world of images of kids being neglected I am so happy for your wee girl xxx Wishing you the best x


406 Mary November 15, 2013 at 2:23 am

Well done mama! I am currently meeting a lot of resistance nursing my 16 month old. You are doing what you feel is best for your children and so am I!


407 Jenn Lee November 15, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Thank you for sharing your strength and courage with being honest! I am a breast feeding mom of an eleven month old and feel pressure sometimes on knowing what’s right by my son. We nurse for nap time, bed time and during the night. I sometimes get frustrated, I appreciate sleep, then I realize this is for our bonding time. It’s sacred and too important not to. Most of my family members who nursed stopped early after returning to work. I’m still going and refuse to see a stop sign for now. So many reasons to continue and I’m grateful to you for reminding me what’s important and what can get pushed away. I am not always aware of my reasons for what I do. My intuition justs says do it. That is what works. Thank you for the share, you made a difference for this mama!


408 Jama Lenig November 21, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Amazing story! I nursed ( and am nursing) my children and when I adopt ( it is in the 5 year plan) depending on the age of the child I will nurse them as well. Nursing your child when they what is completely naturally! You are amazing!


409 christine November 21, 2013 at 10:45 pm

This is a great story, and I totally support you in your decision. Situations like this make us feel like we are led, and lead with our hearts. Thank you for being the kind of mother you are. The gift of mothering and nurturing brings us closer to the source of all that is. Breast feeding made me feel like I knew what was right very fiercely in my choices about nurturing. Part of what is right is the child asking for and receiving the nurturing comfort and control from nursing. It is a stabilizer for children in flux. You responded so appropriately.


410 Kristen LaValley November 21, 2013 at 11:09 pm

GOTTA admit. When I read the title, I snubbed. I thought, “another one of these hippie ladies being weirdos.” So sorry for that. Anytime I get a Judgy thought, I force myself to actually READ what I’m judging and I’m so glad I did. I get it. I really do. I hope that if I ever need to, I’ll be able to set my pride and fears aside to care for my children the way that THEY need. Kudos to you and your beautiful and fortunate daughters.


411 Pam November 21, 2013 at 11:55 pm

Hi, I read you entry and I think is so good that I translated it into Spanish, if it’s of any help for someone:

Pocos días después de llegar a casa desde Etiopía como una familia de cuatro personas, estaba sentada en el sofá con una de mis hijas cuando ella metió la mano por debajo de mi camisa. En un principio pensé que estaba jugando, pero pronto quedó claro que quería mi pecho con ganas de mamar. Yo no sabía qué hacer. Mi reacción inicial fue sacar suavemente su mano y redirigirla, después de todo, no había leche allí, y mi hija de cuatro años de edad obviamente no es una bebé. Pero me contuve, y aquí está el por qué…

Antes de que mi marido y yo aterrizamos en Etiopía hice una lista de preguntas que esperaba que preguntar a la familia biológica de las chicas (si teníamos el privilegio de conocer a alguien). Una de las cosas que quería saber era si fueron amamantadas. Sorprendentemente en nuestro segundo viaje nos encontramos sentados frente a un familiar de ellas en la casa donde habían vivido antes de ser llevadas al orfanato. Supimos que no fueron amamantadas: Su madre biológica no produjo suficiente leche, por lo que eran alimentadas principalmente con fórmula.

Cuando mi hija se aproximó a mi pecho por primera vez, se me ocurrió que tal vez había perdido esta experiencia de apego temprano con su madre biológica. Fuera así o no, mis dos hijas han visto bebés mamando en Etiopía. En su cultura de nacimiento, los pechos son para los niños, y representan la conexión entre la madre y el niño. Los bebés se llevan en las espaldas de sus madres hasta que aprenden a caminar y son amamantados abiertamente -a menudo hasta los cinco o seis años de edad e incluso más en las zonas rurales. (Y, de hecho, incluso hay lactancia materna comunitaria en las comunidades rurales, donde las mujeres amamantan otros niños de su familia). Mamar del pecho de la madre es gran parte de lo que significa ser su hijo.

Aunque yo sabía que íbamos a recibir una pareja de hermanos, no sabía cuántos años tendrían nuestros hijos hasta que recibimos una referencia. Estaba consciente de que algunas madres adoptivas han inducido con éxito la lactancia para alimentar a sus hijos adoptivos, pero como no soy de ingerir productos químicos o medicamentos innecesarios, no quería hacerlo. (Si ya hubiera estado amamantando un hijo biológico, ciertamente habría amamantado a un niño adoptado). Había planeado buscar leche materna por razones nutricionales, si nos daban bebés, pero desde que supimos que serían mellizas de cuatro años de edad, me pareció innecesario.

Sin embargo, ahí estaba yo, con niñas en edad preescolar que querían mamar – las dos al principio, pero sobre todo la hija que tuvo un retroceso mayor. Tenía que ser tratada como un bebé. Y así, en ese primer día, respiré hondo y dejé que mamara. Mientras, rogué que ninguno de mis vecinos pasara en ese momento por delante de las ventanas de mi sala.

Desde entonces, he desnudado mi pecho en muchas ocasiones. A pesar de que por lo general sólo dura un minuto o dos y se ha vuelto menos frecuente con el tiempo, una de mis hijas todavía quiere mamar a veces, especialmente cuando está molesta.

Recientemente, durante la visita de una semana de mi suegra, mi hija tuvo un episodio de regresión pequeño. Durante este, se subió a mi regazo y señaló que quería mamar. Mi suegra estaba terminando su almuerzo en la mesa y entré el pánico momentáneamente. ¿Qué pensaría? Después que le expliqué lo que pasaba, dijo : “Tú eres la madre – Haz lo que creas que es mejor”. (Ella es genial en ese sentido). Así que ahí salió la teta y menos de veinte segundos más tarde mi hija salió de su estado y volvió a estar feliz. Esto sucede siempre, lo cual me dice que todo lo que necesita es la experiencia de conexión para que todo vuelva a estar bien en su mundo.

En la adopción, el apego primario de un niño se corta y se debe crear un nueva unión con los nuevos padres. (A menudo se han apegado a otros cuidadores entremedio, también). Ya sea un niño pequeño o en edad preescolar cuando llega a casa, hay que acercarse a ellos de las mismas formas en que se haría con un bebé. El apego es un vínculo emocional y psicológico, pero pasa a través del cuerpo: la proximidad física, el contacto visual, el cargarlo en brazos, caricias, colecho, el tono de voz, la alimentación, saciar las necesidades según necesite y muchos otros gestos de intimidad y atención. Puede ser agotador – y raro hacer algunas de estas cosas con niños mayores- pero ahora he visto los frutos.

Tengo que admitir que me sería terriblemente difícil hacerlo en público -y que probablemente no lo haría, ya que no estoy realmente amamantando, y mis hijas ahora tienen casi cinco años. Pero he tratado de poner las necesidades de mis hijas y de nuestra unión primero y dejar de lado los prejuicios culturales o molestias que tengo. Sé que mientras más seguras y vinculadas a mí se sientan mis hijas, menos querrán conectarse de esta manera -pero por ahora, dejo que sus necesidades conduzcan mi actuar.

Dudé en escribir sobre esto al principio. No lo he hablado con muchos de mis amigos o familiares… y aquí estoy diciéndolo al mundo (escribir un blog es así de raro). Pero les comparto esta historia con la esperanza de que podría ayudar a otra madre adoptiva que se enfrenta a la misma situación, y añadir otra voz a los esfuerzos de la comunidad de la lactancia materna para que sean normales las distintas maneras de las madres de nutrir y vincularse con su niños. Creo que habría estado bien redirigir a mi hija en vez de darle mi pecho (y, de hecho, les di biberón a ambas por un tiempo cuando llegaron a casa, lo cual es muy recomendable), pero seguí mi instinto en esto, que es todo lo que una mamá puede hacer. Yo no esperaría que otra mamá en la misma situación tomara la misma decisión, pero me gustaría que supiera que está bien si lo hace.

Así que: ¿Qué piensan de esto? Si eres madre adoptiva, ¿surgió este tema en tu caso? ¿Cómo lo manejaste ? Si tienes niños propios, ¿luchaste con el hecho de dar el pecho y durante cuánto tiempo?


412 carlie November 22, 2013 at 3:39 am

Simply amazing. What a beautiful story of love and courage. Good for you and what a blessing you are to those girls and they to you.


413 kate baltrotsky November 22, 2013 at 9:41 am

Woman in many cultures comfort nurse even when there is no milk in their breasts! You’ve done right mama!!


414 Heidi H November 22, 2013 at 10:10 am

I wish that I had thought of comfort nursing… & would have had the strength to carry it out regardless of family criticism. I, too, didn’t want to induce artificially for my adopted son. I looked into breast milk “banks”/shares, but they all required the receiving infant to be in medically fragile condition. Besides, that only addressed the nutritional issues… Missing was that beautiful bonding I saw every time I saw a friend’s child at the breast…. I’m so sorry my son missed out on that, and so impressed that you have provided the bonding and stability your girls need with this bright and bold move! How lucky that your MIL supports you, too!


415 kalen November 22, 2013 at 11:57 am

I found your article to be very moving. I breastfed both of my daughters until they were 27 mo. 10 months of tandem nursing. I think I was affected by the recommendations of how long to nurse but I ultimately quit because I could not handle the invasive touching and sucking anymore. Selfish I know. I just got anxiety from it or something… It was hard. Grandma made it easier by redirecting them. They have both carried on with their needs… One squeezes my upper arm and has taken a shine to her blanky and squeezing it… The other has to put her hand in my shirt to feel my “mommy mole” its a mole on my arm chest area. There is a “daddy mole” on daddys side too. ….They are young and so dear. 5 and 4 now. I thank you for your blog. and huge respect for you to follow your mom instincts and the bravery to speak and to seek out the norms in your baby girls home land. Your insight has helped me see the truth about me and mine. Thanks.


416 Tara November 22, 2013 at 12:52 pm

In regards to the mother above who said it was horrible to nurse a 4 year old when their was no milk, ARE YOU SERIOUS? (wow, that was probably the most ridiculous, obviously of western culture) I have ever heard. So my response is….I nursed my biological child at 4 years old while pregnant and my milk had dried up. Am I considered “weird and gross” and “inappropriate” as well or is it ok because it was my biological child?
STUPIDITY at it’s finest. *sigh*
Anyway, to the MAMA, you are fabulous and I admire the connection you made with your child. Way to go!


417 tami November 22, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I’m not an adoptive parent, but mother of a 3 yr old and we still nurse. Only pt and this beautiful courageous article brought tears to my eyes.
thank you for sharing and caring enough to see what was needed and apply it.
bless you and your wonderful growing family.


418 Eunisha Emerson November 22, 2013 at 1:55 pm

This made me cry a bit. I was given such a hard time for breastfeeding my eldest two in Mexico by their grandmother and aunts that it was not an easy thing to do. ( some of the comments: unbecoming, only for the impoverished who cannot afford to buy milk {what?!}, not healthy for the baby, makes your boobs sag, ruins your libido, {who cares} undignified, an embarrassment to the family- etc) The same grandmother gave my eldest son at 1.5 months- chamomile tea purchased from street vendors, animal based colored and flavored gelatin, caldo de frijoles, and a multitude of other things that sent him the doctor with severe colitis. I stuck with it, however and nursed them both well past a year. My third child and I had issues with breast feeding and upon my return to Mexico with her that same ( then ex-in- law) told me how I should breastfeed like her grand daughter because it was the only thing they needed – ARGH! Well, at least she learned something along the way- en paz descansa.
You are an inspiration! Your daughters may not like reading this blog when they are in their teens (LOL) but they will be so much the better later for what you are doing now. You make me feel so proud of you and your strength. Sounds like you lucked out in the Mother-in Law dept too :)
Thank you for sharing your story. I hope this inspires other mothers to do the same, and those who would have been judgmental to re-think their words before they speak, and offer encouragement instead of criticism .


419 Patrycja November 22, 2013 at 2:18 pm

oh, how wonderful, natural, loving, enlightened, u r amazing…


420 Candace November 22, 2013 at 5:15 pm

I’ve never adopted, and I’ve never heard of anyone doing this before. I applaud you following your instincts and doing what you, as a their mother, felt was best. Too many Mom’s worry too much about what other’s think or what society says we should or shouldn’t do. Thank you for sharing.


421 Leesa November 22, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I think that this is being used to pacify this child, and I am not for it- I am not in your situation, and if I was I still would not do this.
I dont think that there is anything wrong with NOT bfeeding your child, and there is a bond there if you feed them formula or not. I just think that this is rediculous, and I have the right to think that, just like others think that this is awesome, and will applaud you. I however dont think that this should be done…
to each their own.
but when a child has teeth-goes to school – – or is ready for school – can ask for it – or feed themselves on their own THEY DO NOT NEED TO BFEED, nor be pacified by a breast because they are THROWING A DAMN TANTRUM.
wow- some people will do anything to soothe their children.. but this takes the cake


422 Really? November 22, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Why wouldn’t you “do anything” to soothe your children? WTF do you do with your own children when they are upset…just tell them to piss off?

Although I personally could never breastfeed mine past a certain age (19 months was the farthest I was willing to go, especially after he got teeth and was pulling at my shirt for it), I still think this was good for the little girl in this story. It was obvious the little girl saw the breast a soothing comfort, and if any child ever needed soothing, these little girls did after what they had been through being uprooted and brought so far away from the only place they have ever known as home.

Come on, get a grip, girl…it’s not like it was some 14-year-old American boy, for Pete’s sake! She did what she did and the girl is happy…who cares!


423 M February 9, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Newborns “ask for it” by crying, rooting or crawling to the breast. Some newborns are born with teeth….so in your opinion Leesa they should not be fed because they are asking for it or they could be considered feeding themselves when they latch on by themselves? Illogical.

I think all mothers should try to breast feed and only be given formula by prescription if they truly can’t breast feed. I have a right to my opinion, each to their own.

( actually that last paragraph is not true at all. I just wanted to demonstrate how inflammatory it is to be ridiculously judgemental about what is none of my business and then say that because it’s my opinion it cannot possibly hurt anyone. Of course it can and does and there is no need to share such opinions that are unhelpful and unnecessary!)


424 amy November 22, 2013 at 5:23 pm

as a mama who loves to nurse and has it the ups and downs w it.. i am very prode of you..<3 nursing passed one year is hard..but this is way harder.. these gurls are way lucky to have you..


425 Sarah November 22, 2013 at 5:27 pm

I love this story! After I had my son, my sister adopter her first of six. She mentioned that she wished she were lactating so that her adopted child could get breast milk. I volunteered mine and so weekly I brought frozen breastmilk to church and placed it in the freezer and she brought it home and fed it to her baby. I feel like a little of my now 15 year old nephew’s health is due to me. :)

Also, when my other sister had to go back to work after her baby was born, I breastfed both our babies during the day. That amount of nursing is probably what made it possible for me to pump for my other sister. I could pump 8 oz from each side at a sitting. Talk about Dairy Queen!!!! :)

So, be encouraged. You are blessing your little miss more than you know! ((hugs))


426 Amy July 16, 2014 at 8:55 pm

you are amazing! what a wonderful sister:)


427 Kymberli Rand November 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Your story is one of the sweetest I have heard in some time. I’m not sure what I personally would have done if faced with the same. I like to think I would have responded just as lovingly and self-less as you did. I am certain you made the right choice for you and your family. Anyone who thinks otherwise is heartless. God Bless!


428 Brittany Green November 22, 2013 at 5:33 pm

I have two daughters I nursed up to 6 months then switched to formula due to depression issues. To be honest, I read the title of this and cringed. I know people who’ve nursed up to 3 yrs and though I never would didn’t judge them for their choices. Back to my cringing though. My thoughts before reading this blog were how can that be healthy mentally for a child. But after reading the blog and understanding they come from a culture where it’s openly done to children of a wide range of ages this makes total sense and I applaud you on stepping out of the box and doing what’s right for the children first and putting your own discomforts on the back burner! Good for you!!


429 Jen November 22, 2013 at 6:00 pm

You rock! What a great mom!


430 Dezirae November 22, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Great article. You go girl!


431 Mickey November 22, 2013 at 7:10 pm

What a wonderful mother God Bless


432 Gabriel's mom November 22, 2013 at 7:36 pm

We adopted from birth with my son. I never nursed him he was a bottle baby and passy baby the while time. We bonded perfectly! Anytime he need me I was there. I went back to work when he was 7 weeks old left work everyday on my lunch to go hold him and be with him during my lunch hour. He is 28 m old now and Cry’s for me not to leave him then I pick him up I hear those words Momma!!! It just lets me know I am a great Mom!


433 Brenna November 22, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Wow, I just read your story because I saw it shared on Facebook. It is such an amazing story. I have two biological girls, 3 and 16 months. I breast fed both until they self weaned, which was a lot earlier than some of the other posts, but I followed their (my girls) lead. I am going to have to follow your writing because I know that I could learn a thing or two about being a great mom by reading what you have to share about it.


434 Sunya November 22, 2013 at 9:33 pm

I breastfed my son until he was about 2 years old and even after I weaned him he desperately needed to have comfort from the breast, so he would gently rest his hand on his ‘Booby’ to fall asleep.It was his comfort. Breasts are for your Children, it is society that’s makes them sexual.They make Milk and are there to comfort your Children!
I think what you are doing for your children is called Love. The calling in your heart was to comfort and nurture them, and Humans can do that through breastfeeding. I think your a Wonderful Momma :)


435 heather downs November 22, 2013 at 9:46 pm

beautiful story. Another tool for mothers that wish to breast feed without bringing on lactation is to get an sns. its a tube system that you can attatch so that when the baby or child nurses formula will come out but it wll be as though it came from the breast..low supply mothers use this to supplement at the breast when milk runs out at a feed. happy nursing!


436 Lisa November 22, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Well done, I nursed my 3 until they were done – 15 months was the longest, & I would have gone on as long as they needed. We all need to feel like we belong & human touch does it.


437 Sandra B. November 23, 2013 at 7:41 am

I have to tell you I came into this kinda weirded out, but you broke every resveration I had. I love how you took cues from your children. It is a beautiful thing what you have done. So Thank You for changing my mind, and I am sure others. Their will always be people who say mean things, but you hold your head high(and ignore those idiots). I also have to tell you I even cried a little.


438 kmloganwriter November 23, 2013 at 8:16 am

Awesome story. Thank you so much for taking the risk and sharing.


439 Kyleigh November 23, 2013 at 8:41 am

Thank you for sharing this insight. I’ve known since I was 16 that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed any of my children (my breasts will not produce milk) so this has always been something I was aware of and knew I would lack in our relationship. But knowing now how powerful the simple act of connecting like that can be I might still try just for the sake of bonding with my children.

Thanks again <3


440 M February 9, 2014 at 3:56 pm

What a beautiful comment!


441 shaindy November 23, 2013 at 1:56 pm

this is very encouraging. you are an amazing woman. your daughters
are lucky to have you as a mom


442 megan November 23, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Your mother in law said it best- ” your the mom- do what you think is best.” I still miss nursing my kids and the last one weened 4 years ago at 3 1/2. I remember towards the end he would nurse for just a few minutes at a time and it was more about being connected and close then actually drinking milk. after several months he asked to nurse again when he was feeling sick and I let him. There was no milk left but the ritual remained and he was comforted by the closeness.
Thanks for sharing you story! Your children are lucky to have found you.


443 Maya November 23, 2013 at 10:41 pm

I started reading your post already weirded out. However, after reading the facts about the girls and how you decided to breastfeed, it makes perfect sense. I hope I would have had the same strength to make the same decision. Putting their needs ahead of your own, realizing that they come from a different culture and embracing that, you are an amazing mother!
Thank you for sharing!


444 Mary Clark November 28, 2013 at 3:34 am

I’m absolutely in awe of your compassion and love for your children. I’m sad to have read some of the very pathetic and offensive comments. Sadder to see that woman wrote them. It bothers me, that if your girls had wanted to suck your hair or your pinky finger THAT would be ok, but wanting to bond and do something they’ve seen children do with their mothers since they were babies is beyond normal. I’m really glad to know that you are well supported. Count me in as someone who admires you. I wish you continued happiness with your beautiful family. <3


445 Beth February 9, 2014 at 5:29 am

WELL DONE, ZOE! I feel exactly like Mary Clark (Nov 28 2013).
I am now 63 years old. I breastfed my (biological) children over 2 separate timeframes – 20 yrs between the end of family1 and beginning of family2.

#1 son was born when I was just 17, in 1968. I had a HUGE milk supply and managed to bf well, but was largely unsupported, so ignorant that I always took the advice of so-called professionals seriously – even though I now know how misguided some were. So our first son was needlessly weaned ‘in a hurry’ i.e. over 1 week – on the advice of a specialist nurse, simply because his weight gain ‘dipped’ at ~3 months. That was NOT in his or my best interests. In retrospect, this son’s growth pattern was quite up-and-down throughout life e.g. he grew several inches in height after the age of 21!

#2 son was born ~4 years later. He self-weaned early (before 6 months of age). He was a large baby, a very ‘greedy’ feeder who gained weight rapidly and demanded the same solid food as his older brother way before the average time. I lost a great deal of weight whilst breastfeeding him and was also anaemic & consequently very tired, so I didn’t mind gradually stopping.

#3 son was fully bf until the age of 5 months; nursing him was a lovely, effortless time for us both. I was happy and healthy. Then I required emergency surgery and as a result lost my milk supply almost overnight. I was very sad but there were no lactation consultants to help me 39 years ago, so I experimented with formulae until we found something that suited my baby. I was also strict on the much more gradual introduction of healthy solids. He hardly developed fat cells and remains thin and wiry in build (but very closely bonded) to this day.

20 years passed and my daughter (with another daddy) was born when I was aged 43. With such a gap between pregnancies, it was like facing parenthood for the first time – so very much had changed in the way pregnancy and birth were treated.
I worked full-time throughout my pregnancy and for this reason the only prenatal group that we could attend was a ‘homebirth’ group. Here, many women breastfed their older children (1 of these was 7 yrs old). To be honest, I found this gross AND I SAID SO (cringe!)
I planned to breastfeed my baby until the age of 12 months or so. It went just fine apart from the initial engorgement I’d always experienced, and we both loved our special bonding time. However my daughter had her own ideas about weaning – she loved her ‘mummymilk’ (or ‘mookie’ as she called it as a very young infant), and determinedly hung in there until aged 3 and a half! SO thereby I was repaid for my earlier negativity toward women who nursed their older children when I faced the same negative comments! When she was 12 months old I worked full-time again & I’d drive home for her lunchtime feed. From the age of 2, we had morning and evening breastfeeds only (except in emergency e.g. when sick, or injured).
My daughter and I remain very close and I believe that our close bonding, achieved via breastfeeding was the beginning of that.

I wrote this to say that there are no magic answers; each child has somewhat different needs and each mother/parent tries to meet those needs according to their particular circumstances, and the SUPPORT available to them. Parents can also change their ideas along the way, depending on their personal experiences. This discussion has evidently been extremely interesting & helpful to many.

Some of the respondents to Zoe’s blog have been extremely judgemental & harsher than ‘the 43yr old me’ (to the poor women in my prenatal group!) These respondents too may possibly change their stance.


446 M February 9, 2014 at 4:01 pm

I just wanted to say I think it’s very normal to be weirded out seeing something culturally “not normal” for the first time. I was weirded out the first time I say a 4 year old at the breast, even though I was at that time ”secretly” breast feeding my 3 year old at bedtime! If I had grown up seeing toddlers and preschoolers feeding I’m sure it would not feel strange to see.


447 Sharon December 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm

GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!!!!! Those girls are blessed to have you as their Mama!


448 Megan December 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I loved this article! I have a 2.5 year old and a 7 month old at home and am adopting a 2.5 year old and 7 month old from Democratic Republic of Congo. My husband and I have met them and while we were there I pumped for them both (the youngest is tongue-tied and had a contagious illness so I couldn’t nurse him) but I definitely support this and hope that I can at least nurse the youngest when he gets to the states! I think its great that you were so tuned in to your children’s needs that you would do this for them despite what culture may say. True definition of love.

Way to go Mama!


449 Couper from Couper Baby December 15, 2013 at 6:42 pm

I’m really proud of you for doing what you felt was best for your little girls. Adopting can be tough on children and you were able to give them something that provided comfort. I wish you the best of luck with raising your little girls.


450 Ashley December 26, 2013 at 11:27 am

Both of our girls were adopted from birth and I was blessed to have each of our birth families support my nursing of them. I was able to produce milk for my oldest daughter because I was better prepared, and just used the SNS for my younger daughter. The experience was challenging, but highly rewarding. It did wonders for my personal ability to heal from infertility and to create the mother-child bond that I longed for. I was also surprised by the lack of criticism we received for it– most friends and extended family met it with interest and encouragement.


451 Sarah December 29, 2013 at 1:07 am

Thank you do much for sharing this! My daughter has been with us for 6 months, and she just turned 5. This week, she started asking for “boo-boos”, and like you, I hesitated, but then followed her lead, for the same reasons you did. She now wants to “nurse” in the evening before bed, and it’s a beautiful bonding experience. My son just turned 6, and we adopted him at age 3. He was also interested in nursing, and I really regret not letting him, as he still has some unresolved attachment issues, despite all the other attachment parenting we do. When he saw his sister latching, he wanted to try, too, but he became uncomfortable with it after a couple of minutes. I missed that window, and feel sad about it.


452 Heather December 29, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Wow. I clicked on the link to this article from another blog thinking, WHA??? Now, after reading this post, I have to admit: I really just don’t know. So I’ll keep my mouth shut. I haven’t adopted, I have breastfed each of my three children for about a year. I’ve often–while keeping my mouth shut, I don’t want to judge or make them feel judged–wondered about the women I see breastfeeding toddlers. Honestly, seeing my three children move onto solids and wean themselves around a year, I have usually thought that breastfeeding into the toddler years is more for MOM than it is for the child. Moms with attachment issues…can’t let their babies grow up.

Now, you have me thinking of this in a new light. It makes sense to me that a child this age might want to “catch up” on lost bonding/nurturing time. Good for you, for going with your gut and for being willing to try it. It sounds like it was a much needed experience for your little ones, and it’s definitely given me some food for thought. I’ll thinking twice now when I see a mom breast feeding a toddler…not that I’d ever chose that for myself or my kids. I find it endearing when they are babies, but once they start talking and walking, it feels obvious that it’s no longer necessary. Still, I guess that’s not the case for everyone.

Thanks for being brave enough to post this!


453 Celena July 9, 2014 at 1:51 pm

I’m glad this gave you something else to think about. As the mother of a nursing toddler, no, it’s not necessary. Just like it isn’t for any child at any age. But it is still as beneficial as it was when he was an infant. I have three children. I nursed my first two for a year since thatwas the recommendation at the time. I planned to nurse my last one for two years. But at age 2, he wasn’t ready to stop. I decided to allow him to self wean with some gentle weaning practices thrown in. He’s 3.5 years old now and still nurses. Not as often, but he’s not ready to stop. If he chose to stop right now, I’d be fine with it. Heck, I welcome the day that I get my boobs back! But it’s not for me. It’s for him. And I both want and allow him to “grow up”. He’s very independent and very secure in who he is. He’s intelligent and charming. Nursing has not diminished him in any way. In fact, it has increased him. And me. I understand the compulsion to judge when you don’t understand something. It’s human nature. But I am very thankful for open minds that are willing to see the other side when it is presented. Selah, mommy!


454 Amy July 16, 2014 at 8:48 pm

My daughter is almost three and it is 100% for HER, not for me at all. Wow I had no idea women could think that breastfeeding a toddler was because the mom has attachment issue, makes me lol really. It would be nice if you saw how silly it is that you feel it’s “obvious” that they no longer need breast milk despite it being true all around the world that babies naturally feed past one. I personally think women who say their child naturally weaned at one are full of it as thats the time when its easy take away breast milk from a child (wean) with less of a fight, and in all the cases I’ve seen the moms are very much the one doing the weaning. If toddlers refuse to stop feeding that’s because they have the will power to show how much they need it, that seems obvious to me.


455 sharalynn January 12, 2014 at 2:45 pm

I just adopted my 5 yr. old DD this last year who was never breastfeed… We found out she was horribly abused, neglected, and sexually abused…and because of this she has completely regressed to where she is not potty trained, she barely talks, and she uses a bottle… One night I was sitting in the rocking chair with her cause she doesnt sleep well from all the nightmares she has and she wouldnt stop pulling at my shirt or stop crying and this continues for 3 or 4 days all day everyday I explained to her theripst what was going on and she said to see if she is wanting to nurse so while we were sitting in the therpist office and she once again started screaming and pulling on my shirt I gave in and let her try. Needless to say after 10 min of nursing my daughter slept for 4 hours straight which she hadn’t done since we brought her home….so we are working with a lactation consultant and her therpist and pediatrician and now I know when she is tired cause that’s when she starts to grab on my shirt…and with all this we now know if I nurse her before she goes to sleep she will sleep for several hours where if I don’t, she won’t. The nightmares are way less now and she is able to function better now that she is able to sleep…she has also realized when her anxiety kicks in and she is scared she will also come nurse…its a comforting thing for her that she never got as an infant….and now she is doing much better..


456 Moon February 9, 2014 at 2:22 am

Your story made me cry! Thank you for doing what is best for your daughter…


457 Amy July 16, 2014 at 8:42 pm

So amazing! Thank you for sharing your story!! I need strong women in the world who act the way you do:) My mom wasn’t much of a mom and as a result I’m raising my daughter with pretty much no help. It’s great to hear these inspiring stories! thanks


458 Kimberly Michelle January 21, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Though I have never adopted this comes from seeing my cousin adopt our 4 year old little cousin. So my cousin adopted Ava on New Years, she is biologically family anyways she has cancer and they had been keeping her on formula to help her gain weight well my cousin recently had a still born so she had milk in her breasts. She wanted to connect more with Ava so she started breastfeeding her for naps and to go to bed a night. Well now she wants milk all the time and my cousin is worried to death because Ava wont eat anything else everything to her is icky. What should she do?


459 Cheryl Marian January 22, 2014 at 2:23 pm

She is doing the absolute best for her daughter by allowing her to breastfeed. When going through cancer treatments it is often so hard to get anything into an adult let alone a child. Breastmilk is full of nutrition and cancer fighting properties and helps lessen the ameliorating effects of chemotherapy. Tell her to keep on breastfeeding and if she needs to raise her supply then start pumping so that she can provide more and more milk to help her daughter get enough.


460 Moon February 9, 2014 at 2:21 am

^^^^ what she said!


461 Amy July 16, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Actually what’s happening is completely normal for those fighting Cancer. My local breast milk bank is mostly accessed by cancer patients not babies for that very reason. Cheers to your cousin for providing her with the best possible nutrient in the whole world! As long as she continues to offer food everything is all good:)


462 Dr. Jessica Dachowski January 22, 2014 at 3:26 pm

What an emotionally mature, baby’s-indigenous-culturally minded, selfless, thoughtful and courageous act this mother did. Kudos for her bravery to go against what her own cultural norm is and sensitively listen to the needs of her new ones. And more importantly her willingness to act on what she felt was right. I would totally do the same thing. Stop judging mommas and start supporting other mommas!! If you wouldn’t do it that’s okay but negativity breeds the same in your own life (and that of your families). Watch, mommas, your kids are watching you.


463 Kel February 9, 2014 at 1:54 am

I can’t help but feel a little upset when talk about your adoptive daughters birth mothers inability to nurse and the ” hospital grade formula” you talk of. Not all mothers are able to nurse and this article makes it seem like if a child does not nurse they lose out on having as close of a bond with their mother as would a breast feed child.
As a mother who did not lactate as I hoped I would. I cant help but feel your judgement and view of mothers that must use formula as below those breast feeding mothers.


464 Moon February 9, 2014 at 2:15 am

Its sad that you take something so beautiful and turn it into something about you and your insecurities. This mother wanted to know her daughter’s history, which included formula and not nursing at the breast. Was she supposed to leave that part out to make you comfortable with your experiences? This woman dry nursed her children… why would you think she is being judgmental of anyone when she has been on the receiving end of judgement just for writing this blog?! She followed the lead of her children, despite her own comfort level, and gave her children what they told her they needed.

I am also a mom who could not breastfeed a child and I used formula… I do not understand why so many other moms who had similar experiences as me are so quick to nit pick the choices and words of fellow moms like Zoe. It really hits a nerve.


465 JustMe February 9, 2014 at 3:38 am

I agree, Moon – how ridiculous some people can be. She totally took this post and made it all about herself, even though this had nothing to do with her lactating issues…sheesh. There is nothing in this post to suggest she was judging mothers who had lactating issues. Get a grip, Kel.


466 M February 9, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Kel, perhaps you’d like to try letting your baby suckle at your empty breast so that this article no longer makes you feel guilty? We are all doing the best we can and I think the message to take away from this article is that the breast is a soothing, comforting place for our children to be, regardless of its capacity to give milk.


467 Amy July 16, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Bang on ‘M’, guilt from the mother who didn’t breastfeed trying to turn a beautiful thing into something its not, mixed with maybe a little bit of ignorance. Theres plenty of pro-breastfeeding blogs that actually do ‘nit pick’ surly she could have posted her personal frustration towards the real thing lol.

468 Kat February 9, 2014 at 12:04 pm

I successfully breastfed three biological children (for 2yrs, 20months, and 3yrs). Now we are adopting an infant due in a couple months and I am attempting to re-lactate so I can hopefully breastfeed him. I look forward to the additional bonding experience and hope to supply at least part of his nutritional needs this way. Breastfeeding is not right/possible for everyone and that is ok. I just pray I have the opportunity to share the experience with our new little guy.


469 Britny February 9, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Wow! What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it. I read it through tears of joy thinking those girls are lucky to have such a loving and giving mother. May your relationship continue growing stronger on the foundation you have carefully created.


470 Paula February 9, 2014 at 2:02 pm

This post just made me cry. Is the best one I read in a long time.
Thanks for sharing


471 Karen February 9, 2014 at 2:38 pm

This post made me cry. I do not have adoptive children so I can not relate in that sense but I believe it takes an amazing mother to set aside her fear of what others might thing to make sure that her children are nurtured in the manner in which they need.


472 JM February 9, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Wow, what an amazing mother you are. I’m proud of you for doing whatever it took to make your children feel loved. What courage you have for sharing your story. I have four children and I nurse until they’re 2 to 2 1/2 years old, and I always get negative comments (even from family) during the last year or so of nursing them–like they think it’s “dirty”. So at around a year and a half I start hiding the fact that I am still nursing. Thank you for being strong and unashamed! What a heartwarming story–and right at this moment, it made me feel good to read something so loving.


473 Shannon Wasie February 9, 2014 at 6:19 pm

SO GRATEFUL for your courage- both making the choice to do this, and especially making the choice to tell the world. I deeply hope to have the chance to adopt in the future, and very much love learning and hearing about women who embrace “breasthealing” like this. Of course there will be many who do not understand, but I almost feel like that makes it MORE important to be courageous and share. It’s only because it’s so uncommon in our culture that people are weirded out by it, so making it more common is a part of the cure. :)



474 Cassandra February 10, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Absolutely gorgeous! Thank you for being brave enough, in this bias and opinionated society, to discuss this experience with us! I wish more people would do it, though I understand to each their own. Much love to you for this!


475 HB February 22, 2014 at 12:39 am

You are a beautiful person, and a loving, courageous mother. Thank you for sharing your story with the world, because the world needs more stories from mothers who put aside their own fears to nurture and love their babies, even if it does not fit ‘convention’.


476 jessica February 22, 2014 at 3:11 am

This is an awesome story. I cried reading it. It makes me think of my two children who I nurse. My daughter is turning two next month and my son is 7 months. Sometimes when a friend or a stranger hears that I still nurse my daughter they get a look of surprise on their face. Some ask when we will stop. I’ve been lucky I haven’t received any rude comments. I think my husband is the only person who has really given any pressure to wean my daughter. Which is too bad because I’m not stopping until she wants to stop. Anyway, I wanted to thank you for writing this and talking about how the nursing is the bonding for the children, it’s always interesting to hear how different cultural norms are in other countries. I think they’re doing a great thing for the children. I hope people in our communities can someday see breastfeeding as something normal and not make it taboo or sexualized. I’m tired of feeling self conscious about nursing my babies and worrying about what someone thinks. Or feeling like some creep is staring. I just wish is was normal here like it is there. I’m so glad you did that for your daughters when they needed that extra TLC and bonding.


477 Melissa D March 20, 2014 at 3:33 am

You are amazing. Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve read in one of Ina May’s books, probably the breastfeeding one that some women can actually lactate if they’ve never had a child. She had a story about a 16 year old girl who had never been pregnant who started to lactate after being around a baby she was sitting for an evening. I thought it was also a neat story. :)


478 Misty March 22, 2014 at 8:35 pm

I’ve thought a lot about this subject. I have two adopted little ones and neither was breast fed but, I can understand the great benefits from it. Your post is a great one to think about and I completely agree with doing things that are right for your children regardless of the cultural biases.


479 Jessica Dachowski April 4, 2014 at 1:28 am

I just wanted to let you know that no matter what uneducated, unintelligent, small minded people say to you….that belongs to them. Spread your truth, lady. And most importantly, give the love to your children that they need. :) God Bless You.


480 Debbie May 8, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Thank you so much for sharing, and to most of the commenters (yes I read them all) for adding your voices to the normalization of breasts for mothering. I actually stumbled upon this trying to find stories like mine but this proves it even stronger. My first and second kids both weaned right at the end of the subsequent pregnancies and showed no interest after. Several months after my second was born, my first asked to nurse. He tried it and took a couple “sips” here and there in the next few days but it seemed more of a novelty than a need so I cut him off. Now my third child is 8 months old and her older sister (who has always been very, very physically clingy to me) has wanted to resume her before nap nursing (which she did til the day before her sister was born). I feel a little strange about it til I see the happiness and security she gets from it. I don’t know if it is just a phase or not but this post and my experience have really blurred the lines of weaning or of nursing at all. It is much broader than milk going into babies.


481 Suretha Botha June 3, 2014 at 3:37 am

I read your story and its great! I am also a twin mommy of boys and I breastfed the one for 11 months, the other one did not such very well and I put him on a bottle with expressed breastmilk, they were born at 36 weeks, after breastfeeding I had a similar experience when my boys were 2 and a half year where the one wanted to breastfeed again and the other one followed the lead! I think what you did was great for your babies as it provided them with such a strong bond and sense of security


482 Jessica July 9, 2014 at 12:05 pm

I went through this exactly with my daughter! I married her dad and they both moved to the states from Guinea Conakry. She and I went through baby stages when she was 4-6 years old; lots of staring into eyes, holding my face and even a time or two of comfort nursing.

Thank you for sharing!


483 Celena July 9, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Thank you for writing and posting your story. You did what was best for your girls and your family. I commend you. Your story has touched me and it’s great to know there are mothers like you who put the needs of their children before society’s ridiculous judgement. I am still nursing my son at 3 years, 6 months, and 3 weeks. I’m told all the time that he’s too old. I even have people tell him that he’s too old. But he’s secure in mommy’s say and my say is, when it’s time, he’ll stop. Kudos to you mama!!!!


484 Steve Kravitz July 10, 2014 at 12:30 am

Sad that we need the approval from others (or need to worry about it) in order to do what is right and natural for our children and families. Scratch that – it isn’t sad, it is tragic.


485 Erin July 10, 2014 at 8:37 am

You are a supermom. This is so beautiful, your children are incredibly lucky to have you.


486 Cindy July 10, 2014 at 11:18 am

What a beautiful post about a new mama following her mothering instincts to do what is best for her children, and putting their needs first. How very lovely! What lucky little girls you have!


487 Jodi July 10, 2014 at 2:36 pm

You have a beautiful heart. Such a wonderful thing you’ve done for these sweet children, who have had a tough beginning. How blessed you are to have them and for them to want to bond with you in that way! :)


488 Amy July 16, 2014 at 8:28 pm

WOW! Thank you for posting this and for doing as you did. My daughter (biological) is almost three and still nurses all the time (night and day). I’ve struggled with nursing her at times because she’s so old, and she’s a big girl (in size 4 and 5 clothing:). I am going to adopt and have started the process! Yay. I just want to say that you are so wonderful doing what you did, I am personally so proud of you!!! It’s facing somethings inside ourselves that make dealing with what we think others will think the hardest, congrats on being able to let go and embrace being mommy first! hugs to you xxi


489 Linda L. October 5, 2014 at 3:00 am

I’m surprised that the critics can’t see this from the child’s point of view. She saw other children getting comfort from nursing and was looking for that comfort. At four, she probably didn’t know that some of those children were getting milk from their mothers – how would she know that?
It worked in providing her with comfort and reassurance which is one of the purposes of nursing. Kudos to you for providing what your child needed and educating so many others. It’s heartening to see that the very few negative comments are more than balanced by the supportive ones. You’ve really opened a window for people who didn’t know about the options for adoptive parents or feel pressure not to offer their adopted children the same benefits as biological ones get.


490 Tanya January 4, 2015 at 12:26 am

I was so happy to come across this! I am still nursing my five and a half year old daughter. I haven’t had any milk (that I can tell anyways) for about two years. I never had an over abundant supply to begin with so it started to dwindle as she nursed less. I have never wanted to push her away, especially since her father died when she was a month shy of turning two. I am homeschooling her and in the mornings she will crawl into bed with me and ask for snuggles and nummies. Then we work on her reading while still snuggling. I’ve shared this with very few people because I’m afraid I’ll be ridiculed. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one. I probably wouldn’t feel so strange if I still had milk. I wish I did and I’ve actually thought of re-lactating so that I could pump and use it for eczema, pink eye, rashes, etc. Then I remember how hard it was to keep up an already exsisting supply………doubt I could start from scratch! LOL……..


491 Jo griffiths January 27, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Thankyou for this stream. I wondered if anyone can help advise me. I have a wonderful 22 month old daughter who we adopted at 6 months of age. We bottle fed her and had never even considered inducing lactation. At times I wondered if she had an instinctive urge to breast feed, she is fascinated with my breasts and given the chance will reach for my nipples.
I’ve recently given birth but my daughter died after only 12 hours of life. My milk is coming in and the pain of suppressing ( both physical and emotional) is increasing. Am I absurd to even consider offering it to my older daughter? Has anyone ever done anything similar? Thankyou in advance x


492 Dana January 27, 2015 at 5:03 pm

I am terribly sorry for your loss Jo, no one should have to go through something like this. You are certainly not absurd to try offering it to your daughter, I would certainly do it and if it works out both you and your adopted daughter would benefit enormously from it, both physically and emotionally. The way I see it is that your milk and a nursing relationship can be a wonderful gift of love from your little angel in the sky to her older sister and her mum.
A few technicalities:
You might need to warn her first that there will be milk coming out of it, and letting her watch a few nursing video’s on Youtube might also help. Also there is a small challenge when BF a toddler: they don’t always latch on properly. Be prepared that her latch might be very poor and you’ll need to teach her to do it right. If it hurts and the pain doesn’t go away within 20-30 seconds but she is very interested it might be worth getting help from a lactation consultant to get the latch right. You might want to keep in mind that you’ll be making lots of milk during the first 6 weeks after birth and if she does not empty your breasts you might need to express the extra milk you are producing.
Have you also considered expressing for a while to help a sick or premature baby survive? For the very premature babies getting human milk is a matter of life and death and mothers giving birth so early often are unable to produce it. Neonatology depts are always looking for milk donors. Some mothers find it meaningful and helps their emotion healing.
I hope this helps a bit. My heart goes out to you in these terrible moments.


493 jo griffiths January 27, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Thanks Dana, that’s really helpful. Can you guide me to anywhere that would help me teach her to latch on?
I had considered a milk bank, but they don’t accept or use donated milk in Wales, where we live.x


494 Dana January 27, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Jo, you could try to google La Leche League Wales (or your specific location) and find volunteers who live close to you. They might also have a support group on Facebook and/or a forum online. They also organise something called “breastfeeding café” every now and then where mothers and their childrenn can go to and get free advice and support. I would try to find someone with experience in tandem breastfeeding (toddlers sometimes “forget” how to latch on properly during their mum’s pregnancy because their milk dries up, and when the baby is born they need to be re-taught), I think this would be the most relevant to your situation.

Then there’s the official medical support. I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the medical system in UK, as I live in the Netherlands. Here the midwives are sometimes also trained lactation consultant, or they work with lactation consultants. You might have to pay for a private consultation at home, I’m not sure how this works in UK. You might ask some of the local midwives whether they know anyone who could support you in this. The midwife who assisted your birth and is aware of your situation might be very happy to have the opportunity to help you.

For online support, suggestions and ideas along the way, you can join a Facebook group called Adoptive Breastfeeding. It’s a closed group so you will need to be accepted, but once you are in you can post your specific questions there and find other adoptive mums who have been through similar experiences and can share their experience. There are also a few lactation consultants there who are also adoptive mums and can direct you even further. I have personally found them very helpful.

Either way I’d have a go at home first, take it slowly and see what your daughter wants and how things go, it’s a bit easier to ask for help when you have tried it and have more specific questions. It might even work out on its own.


495 Cheryl Levin May 13, 2015 at 11:37 am

I just wanted to say this is a an amazing post. We have two girls, 13 and 10, and we recently adopted a little boy with a traumatic brain injury that left him severely disabled. He is 7 yrs old but functioning at more like a toddler level. He has had a very difficult time adjusting since we brought him home and something startling happened last yesterday that has me searching the internet and that’s how I stumbled across your blog. Adam cannot talk, or walk, or even crawl at this stage and he has very poor motor skills that easily can result in frustration for him, and he often has fits and crying spells. During these episodes he is inconsolable and no matter what I try it seems he just has to cry it out, which can be hard on all of us.

Yesterday I left him safely playing while I ducked into the bathroom to dress and suddenly he screamed and went into one of his fits. I scooped him up and held him close as I rocked him in my lap. I hadn’t finish dressing and my blouse was unbuttoned and he suddenly startled me by when he began mouthing my breast. It really surprised me and unfortunately my knee jerk reaction was to shriek and block him with my free hand. I realized immediately that was wrong but the damage was done. He began screaming louder in rapid succession barely able to get a breath between cry’s. His face was beet red and he curled up in fetal position and went on like that for a good 15 minutes. He finally settled down and fell asleep in my lap and I held him for a long time thinking about what had happened.

After talking to the doctor and my friends I felt like nobody was getting it so I’m searching the internet and happened on this posting. Now I’m thinking that all his crying has been about bonding and needing to connect with me on a physical as well as emotional level, and honestly if I had yesterday to do over again I would let him try to latch on. Maybe with his brain injury I wonder if he is regressed and either there is some basic instinct that he has or some memory of comfort at the breast that is coming out.

I don’t know, but I wanted you to know that your wonderful posting has made me feel like it’s ok to go there. It has made me look at my bond with me new son in a very different way that I probably wouldn’t have if not for you sharing your experience. I’m very thankful to you and I’m going to think about this as I try to figure out what Adam wanted and what I may be able to do for him.

Thank you,


496 Georgia July 28, 2015 at 12:59 am

If we adopt in the future, I completely plan to breastfeed. It is just so natural to want to comfort your child, even when the “well runs dry”. Funny that you can buy twenty brands of rubber pacifiers in the baby aisle, but the idea of a warm, soft cozy chest to snuggle, with a steady heartbeat to listen to, is repulsive to some. Mine all self-weaned early (around 11 months) due to me getting pregnant again, but they had not outgrown the need for comfort. I remember shortly after weaning, my son fell. I picked him up but he kept crying. So, I thought maybe he would want to nurse again. I offered, and he immediately popped his thumb in his mouth, rested his cheek on my chest and stopped crying. It’s not about milk!!! Especially in your situation, this is about the whole package- you’re not just a rubber pacifier, you’re like the goddess of comfort! I guess it’s hard for some people to understand if you’ve never breastfed. There is nothing like the whole package of MOM when it comes to comforting a baby.


497 Wynn September 18, 2015 at 4:02 pm

This post also made me tear up. Nursing has been one of my favorite parts of motherhood…and just your recognition of the comfort – in some cases, just seconds – that you have the power to give your daughters with this simple action is pure LOVE. Ignore the ignorant comments. Embrace the love from the community of supporters around the world. Your daughter’s hand flung over your shoulder is the perfect example of a picture that speaks a thousand (loving!) words.


498 Lynn September 20, 2015 at 10:16 pm

I don’t you, but I know from reading this that you have a warm heart and beautiful spirit. Breastfeeding was something I was so scared of, but it turned out to be the most magical bonding experience I could have ever asked for. My son is now 2, and even though he weaned himself months ago, he often asks for “boo-boos.” It is almost always when he is tired or hurting. It is such a reminder of how much they need that bonding experience. I didn’t bother to read above comments, because I am sure many offer ignorant thoughts. Be proud of what you did- you are a loving mama! Best of luck to you!


499 Alana January 4, 2016 at 6:20 pm

Thanks for this post. I hope to adopt a two year old girl, and although she seems well adjusted, I wondered if she were to need that bonding by nursing if it were possible at that age. Thanks!


500 Alana January 4, 2016 at 6:21 pm

Also, I nursed both my biological sons until they were almost 3 and it was a great bonding experience.


501 vwarriors.tumblr.com April 28, 2016 at 3:22 pm

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on adoption. Regards


502 Varsha November 8, 2016 at 7:40 am

I am 38 and have breastfed my all three children full term, now 15, 11 and 7.5. The youngest (son), Ankit, was born prematurely at 34 weeks of pregnancy and continues to be constitutionally weak. He nursed longest and weaned about three months shy of 4 years. He continued to sleep with me and my husband until last year. I finally went dry soon thereafter around the age of 35.
When Ankit started going to school (it was about two years ago) one day he shyly indicated to be breastfed. I told him that there was no milk any more and that he had also become too old for it, but he insisted. Somewhat puzzled I condescended to his pleading that he would be happy to do even without milk. He continued nursing intermittently for about a month or so. Usually it was soon after coming from school, but sometimes during the night also. When I brought the matter to the notice of DH, he encouraged me to continue. I thought it was in consideration of the weak health condition of our DS, but after some time DH revealed something more important. He was unfortunate to have lost his mother when he was an infant and was brought up by his maternal grandmother. As a child he used to sleep in the bed with his maternal grandparents till he lived with them, which was until the age of 12 years. He told me that he would sometime dry-nurse at his grandma’s breasts and that was after the age of 7 years – mostly during night as he had a phobia for darkness and they didn’t use night light . She was amused in the beginning but would affectionately pat him though not linking it to his fear of darkness. It is important that as a baby she never breastfed him, though his maternal aunt sometimes did to pacify him during illness or injury. Other than his grandmother, only his grandfather knew about his dry-nursing, which though not regular until the age of over ten years, but he never objected to it. My husband was emphatic that there was nothing sexual about it and that dry nursing was a great source of emotional succour to him.


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