The Adoption Transition to Parenting: Bed Sharing

March 19, 2013 § 4 Comments

Our first kid was 5 years old when we became parents. Obviously, this isn’t typical and so we had to do some not-so-typical parenting. Here is one of our experiences from transitioning to being parents:

Ben and I had initially talked about whether we would want to share our bed with our future child. Initially, we had the image of a baby. This then implies that you need to do night feedings, sleep training, worry about the safety of sharing bed together, and get the child used to sleeping in their own bed. Adoption an older child with special needs turned that idea upside down. « Read the rest of this entry »


This is Zambia: How to Wear a Baby in a Chitenge

March 13, 2013 § 7 Comments

Last week, I posted on Instagram (follow me @lauramenenberg) about how Nathaniel needed to be close so I put him on my back with the chitenge. We did this a lot when he first came home, as well as with our ERGO baby carrier. Due to popular request (specifically my high school friend Lucy), I have done a tutorial on how to wear your baby in a chitenge.

Chitenges (2 meter pieces of colorful African fabric) are used for almost everything in a Zambian woman’s life. Most commonly, they are used as a skirt wrap to protect clothing when working or traveling, to carry a baby, as a cushion to carry goods on the head, or to make a dress suit.

Wearing your baby on your back in a chitenge is an easy, inexpensive, and intimate way to wear your baby. You can also easily shift the baby to the front for being seated or breastfeeding. Women usually start wearing a baby in a chitenge when the baby is around a few months old. Initially, a grandmother or auntie will help the mother to hold the baby on the back while the chitenge is tied. Eventually as the baby grows, the baby “gets used” (used to it) and will hold on while the mother ties the chitenge.

I borrowed our maid’s son Elijah for this exercise, as it’s a bit easier to demonstrate with him than with my almost 40lb son!

 Step 1: Bend over and place the baby on your back with the legs and arms facing towards your front.


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How YOU Can Help the Least of These: Sponsor a Child with Special Needs

March 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

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In honor of Zambian Youth Day, I want to highlight an easy way for you to help a child here in Zambia:

Sponsor a child with special needs.

Maybe you’re reading this and dreaming of living in Africa yourself. Maybe you want to teach your children about giving. Maybe you are waiting to adopt a child and are looking at other ways to help. Maybe you are looking for a good organization to give a charitable donation. Maybe you are tired of living for yourself, your own children, and your own well-being and want to give to someone who doesn’t have as much as you do. Maybe you have a special needs child and know the extra challenges involved in special needs parenting.

Sponsor a child with special needs.
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The Adoption Transition to Parenting: Learning English and Signing Time videos

March 11, 2013 § 2 Comments

Our first kid was 5 years old when we became parents. Obviously, this isn’t typical and so we had to do some not-so-typical parenting. Here is one of our experiences from transitioning to being parents:

When Nathaniel came home in June of last year, he spoke very little English and we spoke very little Nyanja. As you can probably hear from the videos I have posted, his English has improved tremendously. One of the things I credit this to is his Signing Time videos. « Read the rest of this entry »

My Role as a Woman (in Honor of International Women’s Day)

March 8, 2013 § 5 Comments

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day as a national public holiday here in Zambia.

Since becoming a mother last June, I have been contemplating my role as woman and what that means for my identity, my family, and my work.

Growing up, my Dad was the sole breadwinner and my Mom worked to take care of our home. She home-schooled my brother and I through high school. I’m forever grateful to both my parents for their sacrifices for my education, well-being, and spiritual upbringing.

I had my own ideas about what being a woman would look like, which in my mind was the same as being a mother. « Read the rest of this entry »

Why You Should Consider Adopting a Special Needs Child

March 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

The Boy, Lusaka, Zambia

Nathaniel was born in 2007 and was diagnosed with hydrocephalus. He has an ETV (endoscopic third ventriculostomy) shunt for aqueductal stenosis. His left side is weak and he is learning to walk. He is a Special Needs Child. He is our son.

If you are considering adoption or are waiting for a referral for a healthy infant or child, have you considered adopting an older child or a child with special needs? Without a doubt, all children eligible for adoption may have special needs to some degree, whether physical, emotional, or otherwise.  However, for the sake of clarity, I am defining special needs based on physical and/or intellectual disabilities.

Consider the following issues, based upon a number of journal articles and resources that are listed for references at the end of this post:

– Have you considered your motivation for adoption? Do you want to give a needy child a home or are you looking for the perfect child to fit into your desires and family?

– Have you considered that many agencies and countries have queues of a year or longer for those wishing to adopt a healthy infant?  That means that families are waiting in line to adopt a child that has not yet been born (or perhaps even conceived).  Is this truly a vulnerable child if families are waiting in line for years to adopt him/her and he/she is not yet born? « Read the rest of this entry »

Adoptive Breastfeeding and Induced Lactation

February 15, 2013 § 4 Comments

Everyone comes to adoption through their own journey. For Ben and I, we had talked about adopting before getting married and always assumed we would move forward with adoption after having biological children. When we confronted the diagnosis of infertility and concomitantly planned our move to Africa, it made sense to us to put our desire for having biological children on hold for a bit and pursue adoption from Zambia.

Originally, we desired to adopt an infant (“as young as possible”). Thankfully, God had other plans and brought our sweet Nathaniel into our life as well as a desire to take care of special needs children. Through this journey however, I was determined to do as many things as possible for the health and bonding for any potential baby of ours. I had heard of adoptive breastfeeding and induced lactation and decided that I wanted to try it, despite the risks.

To my great delight, I was successful at producing breast milk and pumped a small amount of milk (about 75ml) twice a day for 8 months. After infertility, it was wonderful to feel maternal and nurturing, even if there wasn’t yet a baby of mine to feed. There was, however, a child that did need the extra breast milk.

Meet Isaac:


An incredibly adorable little boy with Down Syndrome. He was 2 years old but very small when I first met him (about 15 pounds) and had a lot of trouble growing and staying healthy. His mother was still breast feeding but wasn’t able to keep up her supply. It was during this time that I had a stockpile of milk that didn’t have anywhere to go. The mother was so happy for the extra milk and affectionately called me “Amakai Isaac” (Mother to Isaac). I would provide them milk that the mother gave through a bottle. I still see Isaac through my work with special needs children and am so thankful for that time I was able to nurture him with my breast milk.


The basic idea of induced lactation is that you simulate a pregnancy with estrogen and progesterone and the domperidone (a GI drug) has a known side effect of producing prolactin, all of which mimic the hormones in pregnancy. Although it is possible to induce lactation without the hormones using breast stimulation alone, it is much more difficult and may result in less milk being produced. I followed the regular Newman-Goldfarb protocols listed on the Ask Lenore website (see HERE). She has a lot of great resources and answers to common questions, including more information about domperidone (I bought mine from an international pharmacy HERE and it was shipped to our US address).

If you are interested in learning more, there a number of good resources on the web with much more information than I’ve given here! Here are some of the ones I used:



Other Resources

  • Lact-Aid – breast supplementation (requires suction)
  • Medela SNS – breast supplementation (free flow)

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