5 things you should know about adopting after cancer.

Going through cancer is a difficult journey, but receiving a cancer diagnosis doesn’t have to steal your dream of adding a child to your family. Cancer treatments sometimes affect survivors’ ability to have biological children; adoption is often the only option for those who want to bring another child into their home. As a result, survivors turn to adoption as another way to build their family.

As the wife of a cancer survivor, I’ve learned five important things about pursuing an adoption after cancer.

  1. Focus on completing your journey before pursuing adoption.  

While you’re fighting it, you need to be 100% focused on your health. Treatments can take a toll on your physical and emotional health, your hormones, and the stress levels in your home. The best thing you can do is focus on completing your treatments before starting your adoption journey.

  1. Do your research on adoption agencies before starting the process.

Although agencies set their policies concerning the health guidelines of adoptive parents, many will require that you complete your journey before beginning the process. Some will not allow you to have a child placed in your home until you’re in remission or have a favorable prognosis from your doctor. When searching for an agency, find out if they’ve allowed other cancer survivors to adopt, and if not, find out if they are open to working with you or look for another agency.  

  1. Find out what health documents your agency requires.

Each adoption agency sets health requirements for adoptive parents. Some only need a favorable letter from a doctor, while others might require more information, including your expected prognosis, the percentage of recurrence, and your doctor’s written approval for adoption.

Agencies feel responsible for placing children in homes where the parents are physically and emotionally able to raise a child. It is their desire for parents to be physically capable of caring for a child so the family gets off to a strong start.

  1. Many birth parents are open to placing a child with a cancer survivor.

Adoption agencies will probably require you to disclose your cancer diagnosis to potential birth parents, but don’t worry that it will be a strike against you. In fact, according to a recent study on cancer published on a journal of the American Cancer Society, some birth mothers may even feel more confident in choosing parents who understand what it’s like to go through a difficult time. Although I was concerned that birth mothers would be hesitant to pick our family after learning my husband was a cancer survivor, we have successfully adopted three children through domestic adoption.

  1. There are usually no limitations to the type of adoption you want to pursue.

As a survivor, you can choose domestic, international, or foster care to adopt. Be aware that for international adoption, the countries set their health regulations for adoptive parents. For example, when we tried to pursue a Korean adoption, we were told Korea had very strict health guidelines and would most likely not allow our family to adopt. Adoption agencies can provide guidance on which countries will be open to a cancer diagnosis on your health history.

If you had it, don’t lose hope. An adoption process is a wonderful option for building a family. Although you may have to delay your journey until you finish cancer treatments, the wait will be worth it when you hold a child in your arms.

If you’re a cancer survivor who has adopted, what did you learn on your journey?

Sara R. Ward is a writer, adoption advocate, and mom to three children through adoption. Her passion is helping adoptive parents and those who struggle with infertility and grief on her blog PoetsandSaints. Sara writes about parenting, marriage, and faith and has a book coming out in 2019.  Follow Sara on Facebook or Instagram @SaraRWard.