Journal scan

Adoption process may prove more difficult for adults who have survived cancer

Cancer survivors may face additional hurdles when trying to adopt, suggests a study based on oncology nurses’ interviews with adoption agencies in the US.

Cancer and its treatments can leave patients infertile, prompting some to consider adoption. Little is known about the experience of prospective adoptive parents who have a history of cancer. To investigate, researchers asked oncology nurses to interview adoption agencies about their policies in relation to cancer survivors. Seventy-seven nurses across 15 states provided summaries of their interviews.

Cancer survivors face particular obstacles when trying to adopt

Picture credit: Alamy

Agencies that kept relevant records reported an average of ten former cancer patients a year seeking adoption. A few agencies reported that birth mothers found a history of cancer in prospective adoptive parents off-putting, but most reported the opposite, with birth mothers more confident in choosing a parent who had overcome hardship and had an appreciation for life.

However, agencies’ requirement that prospective adopters provide a doctor’s letter stating they had been free of cancer for at least five years was identified as a significant obstacle. International adoptions were also found to be particularly difficult for prospective parents with a history of cancer.

The nurses reported that participating in the study improved their understanding of adoption and emphasised the need to educate patients about the realities of adoption policies.

This article is for subscribers only