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Hi, I have looked at INCIID and RESOLVE sites for information on cancer survivors and their experiences with domestic adoption. I also bought a book about adoption and the information on this topic is insufficient (Godwin & Godwin Complete Adoption Guide). Can you talk about this issue?
The core idea in this question is what are the tipping points for adoption agencies and expectant parents seeking placement--what sorts of things are skeletons you shouldn't have in your closet or conditions you wish you didn't have to list when it comes to adoption.
The best advice I've ever read on this topic came from Elizabeth Swire Falker's book, The Ultimate Insider's Guide to Adoption. The over riding idea when she covers the homestudy is that social workers know that you're human and you're going to have problems, but it's how you deal with those problems that makes a difference.
The big red flags for social workers (and by extension, expectant parents too) are lying, felony or child-abuse arrests, and recent addiction issues. With lying, it's better to disclose everything than to have it discovered later. And with addiction, "recent" is a general term. Showing that you've taken steps to treat the condition and that you've logged a substantial amount of sobriety time prior to starting the adoption process makes a difference.
But there was nothing in the book specifically about cancer, so I wrote Swire Falker (who is an attorney in the area of adoption in addition to being a writer) this question. Her thoughts on the matter follow idea above--that there are few skeletons in anyone's closet that are going to wholly keep them from becoming an adoptive parent.
Starting an adoption plan isn’t easy stuff for anyone. Most prospective adoptive parents come to the process carrying a hefty amount of baggage. Whether it is from infertility treatment, or being an “older” adoptive parent, or our marital status, most of us are really scared about what a birth family, adoption agency, or even a foreign country may think about us and who we are. There is no doubt that the fear of rejection is daunting. It’s amazing what we do to ourselves through this process. How we compartmentalize our personalities and our features and try to “predict” what it is that might make us more appealing to a birth family or what might make us less “pickable” to another country. It has gotten so out-of-control in some respects that I now lovingly call it the “Pickable-Factor” or the “Pickable List.”
The Pickable Factor is anything that we think might disqualify us or make us less attractive to a birth family, an adoption agency, or another country; ultimately causing her/it to choose another adoptive parent(s) over us or rejecting our application to adopt. Every one of us has our own list of “pickables” that we think will make our wait take longer or stop it altogether.
The reality is that some of your “pickables” may play a role or even prevent you from pursuing some type of adoptions. For example, China has new regulations (don’t get me started!) that require that applicants be married for a specified period of time, not be obese, and not have taken antidepressants. China probably wouldn’t look so favorably on an application from someone with disabilities and/or who is a cancer survivor. I would check with your adoption agency if you have any of the “pickable factors” I just listed before you submit your application. I didn’t say this was fair, I just said these were some of the new regulations that went into effect in 2007.
However, these same “pickable factors” may not play any role in your adoption process if you were open to consider other types of adoption. If you chose a domestic newborn or infant adoption, a foster-care adoption, much if not all of what China disqualifies might not raise an eyebrow for your attorney or your adoption agency. A history of cancer or a history of depression, or any significant item on your “pickable list” should all be thoroughly addressed in your home study, but as long as you are healthy today and have the ability to care for a child, your social worker should be able to navigate successfully around what might have been a huge stumbling block in another adoption program.
I think the bottom line is to be educated about the criteria that various countries and agencies have for accepting applications from prospective adoptive parents, and then see if your list of “pickables” precludes or limits your participation in certain programs. Domestic adoption, and especially foster-care adoption tend to be more flexible avenues than international or some agency-assisted adoptions. But every prospective adoptive parent should – armed with a good home study – have a program or avenue to become a parent. No single criteria whether it be sexual orientation or a history of cancer should ever preclude you from becoming an adoptive parent. Your individual Pickable Factors may mean you have to do more research and be more creative, but unless you’ve got a felony child abuse arrest on your Pickable List, and as long as you’re honest with yourself and your social worker, then you shouldn’t encounter too many problems on your path to parenthood (I mean, other than the 1,001 you’ve already had to endure).
So it would appear that being a cancer survivor shouldn't affect adoption as long as your disclose this information to your social worker.
My RE suspects I have endometriosis, which explains A LOT of things that have been happening to me the past couple of years. The hubs and I are going on 4 years of TTC with one miscarriage 3 years ago and a whole bloody trail of BFN's. We are currently scheduled to do 2 more IUI cycles, before having a laparoscopy and moving on to IVF in June. I have been reading about endo quite a bit,trying to understand how it works, if there is anything we can do to ease the symptoms, etc, and I stumbled on some blogs and forums where it was stated that there is sometimes a connection between endo, infertility and gluten.
I saw that there are quite a few books written about the gluten free diet increasing fertility. That, and, shazam, I got an email from a dear friend this morning, who has been trying to conceive with her husband for EIGHT years now. She's pregnant, from real live sex with a man, and believes that going gluten free, combined with acupuncture is what helped her. She had only been gluten free for two months when she got her BFP, so we could say it was a coincidence, but seriously... after eight years of BFN's? I have a sneaking suspicion that she might be onto something. I'd love to have your take on this. Thank you so much.
First I started in books and when I couldn't find a lot on gluten-free diets in regard to endometriosis, I took to the Internets (yes, plural, because there are so many of them). I found many forums, but no formal studies. This speaks nothing to how factual it is and more to what avenues researchers are interested in pursuing and what they can get funding to study.
What I did find were books that spoke about that general diet that is used to treat everything from endometriosis to human African trypanosomiasis. While I'm being sarcastic, there is no harm in a diet that is low in refined sugar and carbs, alcohol, caffeine, preservatives, and fried foods--which is the basic rundown of most fertility diets.
You could ask your doctor what she thinks about gluten-free diets and their effect on endometriosis, but she's likely to tell you that it's of the "can't hurt" category along with drinking green tea or chowing down on whole milk ice cream. If endometriosis is your problem, is not eating gluten likely to stop the spread of endometrial cells? Well, no, I can't really think of any situation where the omission of a food cures a condition (with the exception of food-related illnesses). Removing a food may be helpful in not exasperating a condition, but it won't cure it.
So what should you do? If sticking to a gluten-free diet isn't going to make you feel like you are giving up one more thing as a sacrifice to infertility, I say go for it. The only problem I can see arising is not knowing enough about substitutions which could create a deficiency in your diet. But if you look into it carefully and pay attention to your overall diet, I think it's a great idea. My concern is only if it doesn't work. Will you feel like it was still worth a shot and a worthwhile investment? Then yes, you should go ahead with the diet. But if you fear that you're going to look back on this time period and say, "I made myself give up everything I like to eat and it still didn't do anything; all it made me was miserable," then I'd forgo it. To be honest, I like my gluten so much that unless a study was unearthed strongly proving a connection between gluten consumption and premature ovarian failure (my diagnosis), I probably wouldn't try it out just in case. I feel like I've denied myself too much as is from events to food. I'd rather be happy in the places I can be happy. But that's me and my unnatural love of gluten.
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