By: Jen Arnold
Bryan and I felt moved to adopt after a few years of trying for biological children. We met with a few agencies to no avail, but we knew that we had found “the one” when we met Molly, owner and social worker at Choice Network. We deeply connected with their focus on birth mothers before, during and long after the birth and adoption process.
Social Workers are often forgotten about in the adoption story, when baby and adoptive family have the spotlight. We looked forward to an open adoption in which we could get to know one another as friends and then family -- and in the process, extend our family out in ways that we had never known.
"I longed to give them the most nutritious option but didn't know that we could have milk from another woman donated."
Flash-forward a year, and the twins we'd prayed for came to us. We adopted two baby boys from two different states within five weeks of one another! Once our boys were here, a pro-nursing and health conscious friend told me about donor breast milk. I longed to give them the most nutritious option but didn't know that we could have milk from another woman donated. After talking with a few medical pros and a lactation consultant, we decided to see if it could be a possibility for the boys. Our son Isaiah had been in the NICU for the first four days of his life because he couldn't keep down the dairy formula, so we had him on soy. We were especially hopeful he would be able to transition to breast milk instead.
Through the sacrificial milk gifts of several women, some who became regular donors, we were able to provide milk for both boys for a whole year! The women were friends of friends, close friends, friends from out of state (6 hours away, in which we enlisted a brigade to get the milk to us!) and friends from just across town. The boys are now in excellent health, have had no complications, and have thrived on the breast milk.
"It was not only a huge health boost for the boys, but a boost to our bank account as well!"
We are so grateful to have been able to give them this option, one that as an adoptive mother means so much to me, as I couldn't do it myself. The donors were so gracious to have given us the milk for free! It was not only a huge health boost for the boys, but a boost to our bank account as well! (Helpful to us, as we were paying for two adoptions at the time!)
We gave gift cards, wrote thank-you notes, and always supplied storage bags, and that was more than any of the ladies had asked for. What an amazing, natural, healthy option for our sons. We are so thankful to have learned about donor milk!
So Much Milk!
With two infants, we had to figure out "systems" to make feedings work for all of us! We're organized people, so the boys were on the same feeding and sleeping schedule and thrived! They were sleeping through the night by 9 weeks (Malachi) and 12 weeks (Isaiah).
A Note From mimijumi:
If you ever want to donate your milk to a bank or are looking to provide your own child with donated milk, there are several certified milk banks throughout the country. We’ve listed some of the better-known organizations, below. There may also be milk sharing community groups and support groups in your area that can assist you.
Helping Hands Milk Bank
Helping Hands is a virtual milk bank utilizing the power of the internet to allow a qualified donor to make her breast milk donation from the comfort of her own home. They supply pre-qualification testing materials consisting of a blood test to screen for various viruses and a DNA cheek swab to match incoming milk. The donations are used by Prolacta Bioscience to make 100% human milk nutritional products, which are sold to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) across the United States for critically ill premature babies. For every ounce of qualified milk collected through Helping Hands, Prolacta Bioscience contributes $1 to the fight against breast cancer.
To learn more about Helping Hands Milk Bank or how to become a qualified donor, you can visit their website: helpinghandsbank.com
Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA)
The HMBANA is a professional association for supporters of non-profit donor human milk banking. Their milk banks receive surplus, then dispense it after the donated milk is pasteurized and tested. Currently, there are 18 HMBANA member milk banks providing human donor milk to the US and Canada. Most of HMBANA recipients are infants in neo-natal intensive care units (NICUs).
To learn more about HMBAMA or find a HMBAMA milk bank in your area, check out their website: www.hmbana.org/
Eats On Feets
Eats on Feets believe that babies deserve access to healthy, commerce-free breastmilk. They designed the original working model for running a Facebook-based milk sharing network, compiled and made their extensive research accessible, and have become known as the go-to organization for information regarding the safety, mechanisms and informed choice process of community-based milk sharing. They've even influenced milk sharing policy!
To learn more about Eats on Feets or how you can become a part of community-based milk sharing, look around their website: www.eatsonfeets.org/
Have you ever been a part of the milk sharing process? Tell us your experience in the comments below.