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10/01/2009

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Ohh, I feel your pain. Besides having a healthy dose of garden-variety crazy in our family, we have actual mental illness — my mother’s sister has schizophrenia. When my husband first came to a holiday dinner with her and didn’t run in the opposite direction, I knew it was true love!

But we also have seen modern science vanquish some of the ills of the previous generations. My mom has already outlived both of her parents, who died of heart disease in their fifties. Thank goodness for better information on nutrition and cholesterol drugs! I don’t even know what my husband’s side is passing on, because three of his four grandparents died young of smoking-related causes. I’m sure they didn’t realize the cost of their elegant-seeming habit.

In the end, the idea that we have control over these things is really an illusion. We — and our kids — are just as likely to die in a car accident as to live long enough to experience old-age diseases. Wow, that sounds depressing, but I actually mean it in a positive way: Who knows what life has in store? Who knows where our path will take us? So why worry?

I’m pretty sure I’m going to be passing on at least the garden-variety crazy — neuroticism, high-strung tempers, and ping-pong moods — to my kids. But I would still rather be alive, even with all those things, and I have to believe my kids would, too.

Maybe this will let you relax. When I adopted my oldest, I thought to myself "YEAY, at least he won't get any of my not so terrific genetic traits" Sure, he wouldn't get the terrific ones either, but I figured at least that was a bonus. The poor kid has bad eyesight (I got my first glasses at 19 months old), teeth that need lots of correction (I am not even going to talk about the dental work hell I endured), and ADHD and a language disability (my sister and brother both have ADHD and my father and brother are both most likely dyslexic). He didn't catch a break on any of them!

On the other hand, he's got plenty of his own fabulous genetics - skin to die for, an amazing intelligence, kindness, and oh, is he going to be handsome as all get out! AND that kid never gets sick. Really. Never.

It's entirely possible there will be a treatment or cure for Alzheimer's by the time any child of yours is old enough to get it.

I worried about this with my cousin -- one cousin has a terrible case of Tourette syndrome. Her sister has two kids. They are old enough now to be out of the woods, but I don't know if I should have done that, knowing I had a first-degree relative with such a horrific condition. My disabled cousin can barely leave the house without being stared at, ridiculed and risking arrest.

That's what I've heard people say who adopt -- they know that none of their genes are going into the kid, so they feel less responsible for its health. And also they place less expectations on their kid.

pt-- Fascinating, isn't it? I think one of the primary reasons I was resistant for so long to having a biological child is exactly that-- the responsibility the comes with passing on my genes freaks me out! I'm sort of getting over that... but mostly I'm just kind of sticking my head in the sand and pretending I'm over it.

I understand the fear of passing on dysfunctional genes to your kids, believe me -- but the fact is that everyone is in the same boat. There's some kind of garbage in every person's gene pool. At least you have a lot of positive qualities to offer too.

I am in my 20s and I could see adopting down the line. People's response to that is often: "Yeah, but, how do you know what you're going to get?"

Well, you don't, but you don't with your own kids either. Just how it goes. It's all a form of illusory control.

I have two bullets of Alzheimer's in my genes. Both sides of my family have it. I am counting on the scientists that are researching, and I am pretty sure that in the next 10 years they will find a cure. I live with my grandma and she has it, so besides having genetic predisposition, I also live it, day by day.

Omigosh are you still off sugar?

(Just kidding. Sort of.)

I am 32 and single and think about this sort of thing a lot. I was morbidly obese from ages 5 to 18, and have to work hard to be healthy every day of my life. Obesity, type I diabetes, alocoholism, bipolar disorder, ovarian and breast cancer have popped up in my family - all highly genetic disorders that might be swimming around in my X chromosomes.

But I am gorgeous and a true smarty pants and quite successful, if I may say so. I have been a kind-hearted and giving gal with a sweet disposition since I was a kid. I have great hair and skin, fantastic lips and tiny hands and feet. My chiropractor swoons over my God-given flexibility. I'm am not lactose intolerant, like some, who cannot eat cheese. Which baffles me.

My point: Turns out I'm a "has it all" girl in a lot of ways (kinda like you). Would it be so awful if our kids lives turned out *just like* ours?

(Just found your blog. Wow, thanks.)

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    • L.A. 2009. I’m stuck in traffic on the 101 freeway, listening to Isabella Rosselini on NPR. Isabella, for some reason, mentions that starfish are one of those rare species that can reproduce asexually, and I realize that if I could do that, I wouldn't have to worry about finding a boyfriend/husband. I wouldn’t have to internet date! I wouldn't have to figure out if I want to/can/should have a baby/adopt a baby/child on my own. I wouldn't have to stress about things like FSH levels, or weigh my feelings on in vitro versus adoption. I would just have a baby. Thus began my starfish envy.
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