Domestic and International adoption are both viable options for cancer survivors, though survivors may face unique challenges in the process. In the United States, there are three types of adoptions: public agencies, which are typically run by city or state governments; private agencies, usually non-profits managed privately, and independent adoptions, which deal with direct child placement negotiated through specialized adoption attorneys. Each option varies in how long it takes until your adoption is complete.
Every state in the U.S. requires that potential adoptive parents complete a home study through a home study agency. Use the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Child Welfare Information Gateway to learn about the purpose, process and locate a qualified agency, in particular one that is cancer friendly.
Most public adoption agencies, though the least expensive form of adoption, are not cancer friendly, excluding survivors as viable candidates out of concern for a former cancer patient’s ability or longevity to raise a child to adulthood. Ironically, cancer survivors can more easily foster children who they can eventually adopt than pursue outright adoption through the public agencies. The Oncofertility Consortium out of Northwestern University compiled a list of adoption agencies willing to work with cancer survivors. Fertile Action also includes a list of resources at http://fertileaction.org/infertility-after-cancer/adoption/.
International agencies can help you navigate the complexities of adoptions outside of the U.S., as each country has different requirements, rules and processes. As an example, China will only adopt special needs children to cancer survivors while in Russia, a judge makes all the adoption decisions. Some of the more ‘cancer friendly’ countries offering adoptions include:
Fertile Action recommends all adoptions involve the services of a specialized adoption attorney. Your adoption agency or http://adoptionattorneys.org/ can help you choose the appropriate lawyer. Attorney fees range from $3,000 to $14.000.
Adoption costs range from $5,000 to $40,000 or more. A breakdown of estimated costs can be found at: http://statistics.adoption.com/information/statistics-on-cost-of-adopting.html#estimate. You can apply for a grant through http://helpusadopt.org/ and register for Fertile Action updates to learn when we launch our grant program: http://fertileaction.org/about-us/fertile-action-story/.
Embryo adoption is also a viable, though relatively new option, with a limited supply of available embryos and different requirements than child adoptions. Both embryo donation and adoption require an attorney and are often restricted based on religious preference. Some adoption agencies also handle embryo adoptions, like Nightlife Christian Adoption listed below.
Although adoption may seem like an arduous process, many cancer survivors successfully adopt children every day. Many survivors recommend joining the Adoption After Cancer Yahoo group to connect with others like you.