adopted children

Teen Pumps Milk For Baby She Placed With Adoptive Parents But Wouldn’t Have Been ‘Selfish’ If She Chose Not To

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A teen mother in Alaska is in the news this week for having placed her baby with another couple for adoption and still pumping breast-milk to send for the little one. This story is very sweet and I certainly commend her but it would have been totally acceptable for her to completely move on afterward as well. She would not have been “selfish” in any way. The choices a woman makes surrounding an unplanned pregnancy are difficult, no question, and we need to be careful about the words we choose when discussing these choices.

From Today:

When one teen mom gave her baby up for adoption, her selfless act didn’t end there. For almost three months, 19-year-old Kaleena Pysher has been pumping breast milk and shipping it to her baby’s adoptive parents.

“It made me feel so connected to her because I thought, ‘My baby still needs me for something — she still needs me for food,’ and in that way I felt very connected to her, and like the adoptive parents still needed me,” said Pysher, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

Pysher learned she was pregnant last spring during her senior year of high school. She told TODAY Parents that she decided on adoption early in her pregnancy, after discovering that a family friend was seeking to adopt.

“When I first found out that I was pregnant, I knew I didn’t have the life experience to raise a baby, and I wasn’t going to be selfish… So, I decided for adoption,” said Pysher.

Like I said, a very sweet story. I give Kaleena huge props for dealing with the difficult decision to place her child with adoptive parents and for going through the large pain in the rear of pumping for months afterward. I did that with my daughter- the pumping, not the adoption- and it was so tough. Her choice to pump for her baby is a generous one, no question, but I don’t like how she’s phrased things here. Ordinarily, I would say it’s her business and the way she talks about her pregnancy and adoption is up to her but this is now in national news. It is dangerous to use words like “selfish” when it comes to the very delicate situation of an unplanned pregnancy. I believe that any decision made carefully and with love will never be a selfish one.

I am not sure if Kaleena means it would have been selfish to keep her baby because of her young age or if having an abortion would have been selfish but either way, it’s not great wording. Being a teen mother is incredibly difficult and though I understand what she may be getting at- that she knew she was not in a good place to be a mother- the choice to keep her baby would not have been selfish. Neither would the choice to have an abortion. Both would have been valid options for someone in her position- nothing selfish about them.

As far as the pumping is concerned, I think it is wonderful she is doing it but we need to be careful about putting this kind of act on a pedestal. Again, I am thrilled that Kaleena did this for her baby and I’m sure it did help her feel connected and like she was still caring for her even though she has her adoptive parents now. However, I think of women who made the very difficult choice to place their babies with adoptive parents. The fact that some of them may have found it too hard to even hold their baby before parting with them. Will they read this and then feel even worse that they did not spend a few months pumping milk to mail to them? Many probably have jobs they need to return to and also, need to move on for their emotional well-being. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Overall, I think what Kaleena did was wonderful but I hope all women who deal with an unplanned pregnancy realize that this is in no way expected of them. However a woman chooses to move on is up to her and no one should label her selfish or judge her for it.

(Image: Coffeemill/Shutterstock)