Adoption after Cancer
Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work
MARCH 27, 2017
This is a happy topic. One outcome of cancer surgery can be fertility loss. Men are routinely (we hope) referred for sperm-banking before beginning treatment. Sometimes the situation is too urgent for that short delay, and sometimes it does not happen for a variety of other reasons. It is more complicated for women. Yes, it is possible to work with an IVF group and harvest eggs, but that is a big and expensive production that is not always covered by insurance. Additionally it takes a while, and that lost time may be unwise. Finally, although the IVF process has become more sophisticated and there was drugs to use that don't seem to be potentially dangerous (e.g. more estrogen) for women with some cancers, it can still feel a bit dicey.
Sometimes a woman's fertility is not compromised by cancer treatment, but there may be medical reasons to delay or avoid a pregnancy. For example, young women with ER positive breast cancers are usually put on Tamoxifen for five years, and that drug is not compatible with pregnancy. For anyone contemplating parenthood, there are serious considerations, but those are even larger with a cancer history. To be blunt: we must think about our future health and what would happen to a baby/child if the parent were again to become ill.
Here the happy part: I know a number of families who have successfully and joyfully adopted babies after cancer. It is absolutely possible.