ADOPTION AFTER CANCER: WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?
As an adoptive mama with a cancer history, I’m often asked about the adoption journey for cancer survivors. Our friend Nikki who works as an adoption social worker sat down with me many moons ago as I researched my adoption options.
That coffee date has always stuck with me as it provided great insight.
So – it’s with complete joy that I bring you some Q&As with Nikki – one of the best adoption social workers out there. (And she just so happens to be going through her own adoption process right now, too!)
Nikki’s answering some of the most commonly asked questions I hear from cancer survivors who want to adopt.
Enjoy our first post & stay tuned for more to come!
ADOPTION AFTER CANCER: WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?
Questions answered by Nikki DeSimone Pauls, MSW – August 2013
Q: What are the types of adoption I can consider if I’ve had cancer?
A: The only type of adoption that may be completely closed to certain cancer survivors is embryo adoption, based on what treatments they had and if those treatments rendered the individual infertile. Everything else is a possibility: domestic adoption (both private and through the state) as well as international adoption.
Q: Are there any adoption paths/options NOT open to me as a cancer survivor?
A: I don’t see any options that are not available on the whole. Most types of domestic adoption will be options, as will quite a few international options. Foster care, or adoption through the state, would generally yield even more flexible options.
Q: What does a social worker look for in a couple who’s ready to adopt?
A: Being a social worker who has written favorable home studies for cancer survivors, the thing I look for most is their oncologist’s report and supplemental medical letter. I also talk with the client for more information.
Q: Will having cancer impact eligibility to adopt in any way?
A: A person who is currently undergoing cancer treatment should be 100% focused on their health and treatment and not focusing on adoption. But after cancer, and with a good prognosis, there are very few limitations for a cancer survivor.
Q: Is there special documentation is needed for a cancer survivor to adopt?
A: Yes, the oncologist’s letter is paramount. Ideally, the letter will include:
- what type of cancer
- what stage it was caught
- treatment plan
- expected prognosis
- percentage of recurrence (if that information is able to be stated)
- if the physician would recommend the patient for adoptive parenting
The social worker will use this in making his/her favorable determination for adoption and may also pull quotations out of it for the home study (as home studies become legal documents.) So, getting a letter as favorable as possible is helpful.
Q: Do I need to be in remission for a certain amount of time before I can pursue adoption? How long?
A: In talking with others about this, and after taking my own personal opinion into effect, we all believe that at least one year in remission is a good amount of time. In addition to the toll it takes on the survivor’s body, possible hormone imbalances, stress on the marriage and family, financial stress, time off work, etc., may all add up after a cancer diagnosis. One year out seems to be a good amount of time. That’s really the case in anything adoption though!
Q: What are some good resources for cancer survivors to look into when researching adoption adoptions?
A: I think just talking with social workers and adoption agencies about the possibilities for adoption is a great place to start. We can help with some of the basic information and research anything that is unknown. Things are so conditional when it comes to this topic, nothing is black and white, and talking with someone is a great idea for gathering accurate information specific to your case.
For example, I would be a lot more inclined to approve a family similar to the one I’ve been referencing here throughout, rather than someone who just had the one breast removed, no hysterectomy, and tested positive for the BRCA 1 or 2 genes.
Additionally, no two adoption agencies or social workers are going to react the same way, too. I’m more on the cautious side, but I also place a lot of emphasis on the oncologist’s letter. Whereas, someone who has never worked with a cancer survivor before, and has some negative family history (e.g., mom died two years ago from cancer), might not be as willing to consider the prospect.
It’s Danielle again —
So as you can see, Nikki is a WEALTH of knowledge and there is HOPE for the cancer survivor who wants to adopt!
Stay tuned – we’ll have Nikki’s advice specifically for cancer survivors who want to internationally adopt and domestic adoption for cancer survivors coming up.
And – if you have a question for us, please leave a comment and we’ll address it in a future post!
Entry filed under: Adoption, Cancer Survivor. Tags: adoption, adoption after cancer, adoption options for cancer survivors, cancer survivor, domestic adoption, homestudy, international adoption, oncologist letter.