Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Just As I'm Getting Used to the Idea, This Comes Out

We're only a month and a half away from One Ring and my incredibly awesome, wild and crazy yearly trip to Disney World. Tigger, Pooh, and Boo are coming with us, and we're all celebrating Boo's first birthday. Actually, we wouldn't be going there at all if Tigger and Pooh hadn't suggested it. But they did, so we are, crazy though it may sound (does a one-year-old really care about this? Probably not.)

So all this talk of taking kids to Disney World, combined with me (finally) having a stable, well-paying job, has nudged me closer to accepting the idea of having children of my own. Needless to say, One Ring is pretty happy with that turn of my mind. Right now we're trying to get my sister to turn over our neice for a week so we can take her, but we seriously doubt that's going to happen. Grrr. So all that's left is either kidnapping someone else's kid - something the government tends to frown upon, piratical though it may be! - or have one of our own.

Well, I was even getting okay with that idea, until the morning news greeted me with this tidbit.

Kids of Older Dads Run Greater Risk of Bipolar Disorder: Study Says

This is probably the number one reason why I've been so reluctant to follow all my friends and neighbors, classmates and fellow Gen-Xers down the road to parenthood. Not only am I bipolar myself, but because I am, my children are more likely to become bipolar, based on what limited knowledge exists about the disease (there seems to be a genetic link). Now, this new study suggests that the longer I wait before fathering a child, the more likely it is that the child I father will have the disease. I know just enough about probability to figure the odds aren't good.

My illness came on when I was a teenager. High school was a living hell for me, and my undergraduate years were even worse. I spent my first two years of Divinity School self-medicating with alcohol to slow down my manic phases and pick me up when I was depressed. It didn't work too well with either. It was only a year or two after I was married, that I was diagnosed and my life became somewhat sane. I still have bad days, of course, and will for the rest of my life, but at least they're manageable now.

Thing is, I don't want that for a child. Even though research is getting better all the time, and genetic testing is commmon for parents, and treatments are improving (hey, at least they've moved on from lobotomies and electroshock therapy - although the latter is making a come back), I am still struggling with the idea of taking a risk. I know what bad choices I made when I was untreated, and I know what opportunities I missed and what pain I felt back in those days. The question is: is it worth it to even try? Or should I just bite the bullet and shell out thousands upon thousands of dollars and try and adopt a child from a third-world country, like some of my friends and in-laws have done?

These are the thoughts running through my head this morning. That and how I'm about to collapse on my keyboard. Three day weekend, and I still end up without sleep! Go fig.


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