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The Oncologist, the Patient and CKN — Sharing Knowledge

Oncofertility | Adoption After Cancer: Adoption Agency Attitudes and Perspectives on the Potential to Parent Post-Cancer

by Shauna L. Gardino, Andrew E. Russell and Teresa K. Woodruff 156:153-70; 2010 PMID:  20811831     

The relationship between adoption and cancer may seem distant.  Infertility, however, is oftentimes a consequence of cancer treatment, rendering cancer survivors incapable of biological reproduction. For this reason, the growing population of cancer survivors has a distinct relationship with adoption, as it may provide their only opportunity to parent.  It is estimated that 1,479,350 men and women will be diagnosed with cancer in 2009. Remarkably, the overall 5-year relative cancer survival rate for 1999-2005 was 66.1%1.  Since both cancer incidence rates and cancer survival rates are on the rise, the growing population of cancer survivors will likely be faced with the long-term consequences of their disease treatment, including fertility.

Research regarding the potential to become an adoptive parent post-cancer is scarce.  In the one existing study that examines adoption among cancer survivors, Rosen discovered that, among a convenience sample of 11 cancer organizations, 6 international adoption agencies, and 7 adoption specialists,  adoption agencies identified their chief concern as the welfare of the child and demonstrated reluctance to discuss how a cancer survivor would be viewed as a potential adoptive parent2. Rosen concluded that cancer patients lack access to information about adoption and may face discrimination in domestic and international adoption.

In this analysis of domestic and international adoption agencies, we aim to delve further into the intersection of adoption and cancer by looking into how prospective adoptive parents who are cancer survivors navigate the adoption process and by identifying laws and legislation that may aid or hinder them in their journey to adopt a child. We also explore legislation regarding the potential to adopt for individuals with other chronic diseases and specific lifestyle circumstances to assess how cancer survivors fit within the overall adoption system.  Using information gained from agency interviews as well as personal accounts of cancer survivors, we will attempt to determine if cancer survivors face discrimination in the adoption process and, if so, characterize their experience and the barriers they may face.  Finally, we argue for equal and just treatment for cancer survivors in the adoption system.

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[1] S.L. Gardino
The Oncofertility Consortium, Nortwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA
email: sgardino@northwestern.edu

[2] T.K. Woodruff et a. (eds)., Oncofertility, Cancer Treatment and Research. 156, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-6518-9_11 (c) Springer Science + Business Media LLC, 2010

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