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.
Pysher was only four months into her pregnancy when she connected with the adoptive family, who wishes to remain anonymous. Throughout her pregnancy, she talked with the couple daily, sent ultrasound photos, and kept them informed about the baby’s condition.
It was seven months into her pregnancy when Pysher informed the adoptive family that she wanted to be able to breast-feed the baby, named Raylie, during their time together in the hospital, and to then continue pumping breast milk and sending it to them for the first few months of Raylie’s life.
Pysher says she learned about the benefits of breastfeeding from a home health nurse who provided her with prenatal care. Once she knew the benefits of breast milk over formula, the teen says she knew she had to try breast-feeding and pumping.
“When a baby is fed breast milk, they are just way ahead of the game. I decided that I wanted my baby to have the best options and to be able to grow — and so, I knew I was going to pump and give her that benefit,” said Pysher.
Diana West, director of media relations for La Leche, was impressed with Pysher's act of kindness.
"La Leche League International greatly supports the tremendous efforts of this young mother to give her milk for this baby's health," she said. "It is a gift that will benefit the child for a lifetime."
Pysher says she has had great success with pumping, sometimes getting six ounces of breast milk from each breast every two hours. She packed the milk into freezer bags and stored it in her freezer until each shipment could be packaged and sent to the adoptive family, who covered shipping costs. In fact, Pysher has been so successful with pumping that the adoptive family has told her they have plenty of breast milk and don't need more. The teen plans to donate the extra milk she has in her freezer to a milk bank in Colorado, where it will be screened and sent to babies in neo-natal intensive care units.
And her involvement with her baby's family will not end there. Pysher, who is enrolled in a training program to become a dental assistant, says the parents have made it clear that she will remain in her baby’s life. The family sends photos and videos to the teen, and even have Face Time chats with her so she can see Raylie.
“They have told me that we are a family now. They say that I will always be her mother, and that they are appreciative of the gift of life I have given them,” said Pysher.
This article was originally published Feb. 5, 2015 at 6:37 p.m.