Having kids while knowing you could give them a disease....

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  • 1 Post By cympreni
  • 1 Post By gemini12

I was having trouble figuring out a good title for this post.

I'm 24 years old. I have no intention of having kids anytime soon. My best friend/boyfriend/etc and I have been "together" (we're a complicated bunch) for a long time and are both fairly certain we will get married someday.

Even if we don't, I would still like to meet a man, get married, and possibly have kids someday. I just don't know if having children while I have a weird mental health history is the best idea.

I have Tourette's. I was diagnosed with it when I was 11 years old. I also have the OCD and depression that comes with it.

I would feel horrible if my child ended up having Tourette's. I'm sure I would be able to handle it better than my parents did since I know what it's like firsthand. I just don't want someone else to have to go through what I went through.

I know adoption is an option. I'm open to it. I just don't know what they look for in potential parents. Do they look at your medical records and family history? Not only do I have Tourette's, but my boyfriend is bi polar and has a history of bad depression. His grandpa was also a schitzophrenic.

I'm probably just being a little paranoid right now. I don't want to have kids for a loooonnnnnnnnng time. It's just something that's been bugging me lately. I don't know much about genetics and how likely children are to get certain diseases/disorders/etc.

I just wanted your take on the subject!
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You may be able to find good information from national organizations that represent people with Tourette's on genetics and Tourette's. Just knowing may help you think more clearly about the future.

My younger sister is strongly affected by developmental and physical disabilities that are caused by a genetic abnormality. Her geneticist is fairly certain it is not hereditary, but it's very rare and not very well understood at this point. When my boyfriend and I are at the point where we are ready to have children, we will most likely have further genetic testing/counseling done to see if I could pass this on to a child. I don't know what my decision would be if it turned out that I could pass it on, but I know I will feel better about the future when I have a clearer (hopefully) answer.
I will preface this by telling you my bias:

I have ALWAYS wanted to adopt or foster, and have NEVER wanted to have genetic children.

I would adopt or foster. I would definitely talk to a doctor and do my own research on studies. I'm guessing you will find differing opinions on whether things are genetic or not (especially bipolar), though I would guess Tourette's will be more likely to be known. For me, I put such a low premium on the idea of having genetic children, for me personally, that if I had *any* concerns about it, it wouldn't be a big deal to decide I should just adopt.

However, because my opinion is SO biased, I can't say what I think would be right for you. You have to figure that out for yourself, as unhelpful as that is when you're looking for advice! I think if you feel as if you can cope with life and be stable, there's no reason to think you can't have children who can be as well - and feeling as if you can cope, be stable and be happy should be a prerequisite for EVERYONE before they intentionally have children. Whether genetic or due to history, most people have some sort of issues their children will be better of if are resolved prior to the birth of those children. I guess ultimately, I wouldn't think less of someone who had children who were genetically theirs in your situation - AT ALL. I wouldn't think less of someone who had a very strong family history of breast cancer for having children (and I've known families where every generation had breast cancer) and there are ways of learning to cope. So, meh, while for ME I would just adopt, for YOU I would recommend following your heart.
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I don't know enough about Tourette's to comment on that so I won't.

But on the mental health issues. Mental illness is treatable and manageable. And besides that, EVERYONE has issues that will effect their children in some way. How it effects them is dependent on how YOU handle your issues. No matter your struggle, you can be a good example or a bad one.
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I don't know anything about Tourette's. Is it a known genetic disorder?
I knew a woman who had a complete hysterectomy as a very young woman because hemophelia runs in her family (she had 2 brothers with the disease) and didn't want to pass that on. She adopted 2 girls. It was her decision to make.
Regarding mental illness, I have severe depression that's being managed by medication. That isn't an issue in most cases of adoption or fostering, as long as I'm being treated. When our foster license was renewed our caseworker only wanted to know if I'm receiving treatment and if I've noticed the same symptoms in any of our children since there could be a genetic link. There are some countries that won't allow me to adopt, like China, due to the depression. That's fine with me, because there are many more children in the world that need a forever family.
I think it's good to be considering what you want to do, doing some research, but remember you have time to decide.
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i know nothing about tourette's either so i will refrain from touching on that topic.

i have a history of depression/anxiety and i was in therapy and used to take medication. i honestly believe that my mother is bipolar (she has not been diagnosed as such though) and she used to take medication for depression as well. i think her mother suffers from some sort of mental disorder too.
my SO has suffered from alcoholism/drug addiction and it is on both sides of his family for many many generations. in a nutshell, our child is genetically predisposed to be pretty screwed up.
but that doesnt mean that she will be or even has to be.
in a way im glad that we both have our experiences because we know what to look for and its something that we could help her with and understand if she were dealing with those issues herself.
I don't know anything about Tourette's so I cannot comment on it. However, all genetic diseases are different. You have lived with Tourette's so only you will know how difficult/disrupting it can be to live with. However - can you say that you have had any less of a life? Not experienced great moments of happiness and joy? Fallen in love? Had relationships? Would you deny any future child of yours to experience all this just because they may/may not have this disease? These are questions only you can answer-Im sure you do not feel your life is pointless and not worth living (at least I sincerely hope you don't) just because you suffer from this. If however, you truly feel the bad outweighs the good from living with Tourette's then adoption is a great choice too. There are many children out there who need loving homes and families. There is no wrong choice here. I hope this helps and you are able to make a decision-do whatever feels right/best for you.
Ironic this topic came up because a good friend of mine and I were JUST discussing this!! She has Treacher Collins - a severe physical disformity that affects her hearing (she needs a hearing aid in one ear). She has a 1/2 brother who ALSO has the same disformity/disease and so it's obvious that the TRAIT is there in the family and so she and her husband have decided NOT to have children because the chances are that much greater for them to have a child with the same disformity.

Depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, OCD, paranoia - ALL run in my family on my mothers side. I, like my father, have ADHD and take medication for that. From all the research I've seen, ADD/ADHD is genetic and can be passed on by fathers (along with other factors)...but at the same time, I because there is no guarantee where is actually comes from, I too have that 'fear' of having a child and passing any of those traits on. For you, all I can advise you to do is your research - lots of it!! Talk to your doctor, talk to a genetisist, read up about as much on the topic of Tourette's and mental illness as possible - that way if you do decide to have a child/or not, you are making an educated decision! But I give you tons of credit for being young AND thinking ahead in such a serious way. Especially when you have girls popping out babies every year, never THINKING about their health, history, the baby's fathers history, etc.
People will always do what they want to do...no matter what you say!
I know a bit about Tourette's. I had a nephew with it.

It's a spectrum disorder, and it's genetic...you have about a 50% risk of passing it on to your children. BUT...most people with it have very mild symptoms. Only you can decide if it's worth having biologial children and risk passing the disorder on to them. I'd be more worried about having children with someone who is bi-polar.

We all have physical and mental family histories. I have a lot of diabetes in my family. I don't personally have it, but damned if I didn't pass it along to at least one of my children (could end up being more). Should I not have had them? I don't know. Not much could have stopped me from having children, my maternal drive was too strong.

There are geneticists out there that you can meet with prior to having children and find out exactly what your risks are of various diseases within your family. But, ultimately, it's up to you. We all have the basic human right to reproduce...but we have the responsiblity to care for everything we produce.
My sister plans to not have children. She's even looked into getting her tubes tied, but as an unmarried 26-year-old, she can't get a doctor to do it. Part of her decision is because of medical history. She has a personal history with depression and autoimmune disease, and several of our family members have had high blood pressure and diabetes.

I think her decision is perfectly fine for her, but I (obviously) haven't let medical issues keep me from having children. Part of that is because I don't have a personal history with those diseases, and I believe that high blood pressure and diabetes can usually be controlled or prevented by lifestyle decisions. I don't know anything about Tourette's syndrome, but I'm sure you can research and get more information.
I believe that high blood pressure and diabetes can usually be controlled or prevented by lifestyle decisions.
Originally Posted by sarah42


Pardon my repetitiveness on this topic, but I'm new at being the mother of a diabetic and I'm getting weary of people assuming that my son caused his own disease and diet would cure it (not necessarily here on this board...just in general)...so this is more of a public service announcement...

Not all diabetes can be prevented. Type 1 diabetes is strictly genetic and has absolutely nothing to do with lifestyle choices and there is nothing an individual can do to prevent getting it, and lifestyle choices can't control it either. Without his insulin injections, my son would be dead in days.
I hope this doesn't upset you...but with Tourette's, severe depression, bipolar disorder, OCD and schizophrenia, I'd consider not having children at all - biologically or through adoption. That's all just a lot for a kid to deal with. But obviously only a mental health professional can say for certain how that combination of conditions, when managed, can affect children.

Best to you...
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I believe that high blood pressure and diabetes can usually be controlled or prevented by lifestyle decisions.
Originally Posted by sarah42


Not all diabetes can be prevented. Type 1 diabetes is strictly genetic and has absolutely nothing to do with lifestyle choices and there is nothing an individual can do to prevent getting it, and lifestyle choices can't control it either. Without his insulin injections, my son would be dead in days.
Originally Posted by RedCatWaves
Yes, you're right. I should have been more specific. My family members with diabetes all have/had Type 2. I believe that Type 2 can be prevented and managed, at least to some extent, with diet, not being overweight, and physical activity.
I would recommend meeting with a genetic counselor. They would be able to answer all of your questions regarding the odds of having a child with Tourettes or other genetic disorders and provide you with lots of information so you can make an educated decision.

And, I just wanted to say that I think it's great that you're taking these issues seriously and addressing them well in advance.
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I think that some illnesses like OCD, depression, etc that can be controlled with medications, diet, and CBT are different than your diabetes and heart disease types. Can Tourette's be controlled with medication?

My husband's side of the family has known genetic diseases; auto-immune hemolytic anemias and polycystic kidneys (adult onset/autosomal recessive trait).
I have depression and anxiety disorders. I knew about the depression before kids, but the anxiety didn't come until after they were born.
I don't know enough about Tourette's to comment on that so I won't.

But on the mental health issues. Mental illness is treatable and manageable. And besides that, EVERYONE has issues that will effect their children in some way. How it effects them is dependent on how YOU handle your issues. No matter your struggle, you can be a good example or a bad one.
Originally Posted by cympreni
YES!!

i think a more important question would be are you willing to care/love that child no matter what? are you willing to help them with their problems? can you handle your own issues well enough to care for someone else (not being snarky.) ?

geneticists can predict a bunch of possible outcomes - but that doesn't mean they will happen. it doesn't mean they also won't be paralyzed from a car accident either.

Last edited by Sleigh; 09-05-2008 at 10:05 AM.
My son is in Scouts with a boy with Tourette's. He can get pretty bad. His father passed it on to the son and daughter, they all have Tourette's, OCD, ADHD... I don't know them all. The daughter is less affected, the son moreso. The dad handles his well with all his meds.

I think it would be best to see a genetic counselor.
Chances are very good that you and your bf would pass on your conditions. But being aware of it all, you may be able to handle it well.

My son has a congenital condition of low gross motor muscle tone, passed on by my husband's family (his sister's son also has it, and more--fine motor, speech, now ADHD). We didn't know about it until we had to have PT for our son and have him tested, etc. Then we found out about the younger cousin's problems. We were a bit scared to have another, and I was too busy with our son to start again for a while anyway. Then time went by and we realized: we didn't want to start all over with a new baby; we were happy with one child. So we are a bit thankful we didn't have more. They recommend our son be tested before he thinks of children to see what the exact diagnosis is. (They want us to bring him in for surgery to do a deep muscle biopsy, but we don't want to put him under just for that, and he doesn't want to do it yet.)

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With all of these issues of your own, I'd like to point out that, if your child inherits any of them, you will probably be more sympathetic and more likely to treat your child normally and be more proactive than a parent who doesn't have the same issues.
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