Should Diabetes Affect Your Decision to Have Kids / Adopt?

We ran an article this morning on Diabetes News Hound about family planning and diabetes. The author Kelsey Metcalf, one of our Expert Columnists, discussed her decision to adopt. You can read the column here: Expert: Why Diabetes Caused Me to Adopt

Im curious to hear if diabetes will or had impacted your decision to have children?  

 

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I dont have kids yet but I think about this all the time. My boyfriend and I would love to have kids one day but the thought of the child having diabetes would kill me. He says we would deal with it but after myself having it for 20 years I couldnt imagine making my child do what I did when I was young. I think we are going to have kids if everything works out.

I do enjoy learning and hearing the percentages of a mother having T1 and a child getting it. I need to learn more about that.

At this point I don't see myself having children, but if I ever do I plan on adopting.  Numerous reasons were behind the decision, but the possibility of passing on a genetic chance of diabetes was a factor (yes it is still possible that the child would develop diabetes due to genetics or environmental factors/interactions, but it would negate the possibility of my genetic contribution).

Hmm. I wholeheartedly agree that some T1's may decide to adopt rather than have biological children. Mainly, it's a LOT of work to keep your BG's in non-diabetic range for 9+ months and not everyone can do that responsibly. There are other T1 bloggers out there who blog about this. But, what offends me is the tone. Her endo "applauded" when she decided not have get pregnant and her Mom was relieved? Was this in 1970? Steel Magnolias is FICTION and most of us have healthy pregnancies today. Maybe she should have seen a geneticist first too if that was her main anxiety. Also, an adopted child could have some unknown serious illness. The way I see it, becoming a Mom or Dad means accepting and loving someone who may not turn out how you expect it. The kid my have D, may have a learning difference, may have another illness. They may even have a personality that you find difficult. You have to be sure you'd love them even if they were adopted and got D anyways!!!!!

I am  still young but this decision will be coming up within the next 5-7 years (hopefully). I have thought about it alot though. I would love to have children because i love them but i would have the fear of complications. I will most liking seek advice from my doctor and if i am unable to have them i will for sure adopt because i cant imagine not having children.

It is definitely a personal decision. I know a couple of T1 diabetics who have had children who are very healthy so far. I have heard from my endo that it CAN be tricky keeping blood sugars under control during  pregnancy, but if being pregnant is something that is important to you, most doctors/hospitals are very helpful and accommodating during the process. If the baby DOES end up being diabetic, at least they have a parent who is in the same situation! I WISH I had a family member with diabetes! The bottom line is, diabetes shouldn't keep anyone from giving birth if they are passionate about doing so. Personally, I want to adopt.. but not because of diabetes. 

[quote user="Sarah"]

Hmm. I wholeheartedly agree that some T1's may decide to adopt rather than have biological children. Mainly, it's a LOT of work to keep your BG's in non-diabetic range for 9+ months and not everyone can do that responsibly. There are other T1 bloggers out there who blog about this. But, what offends me is the tone. Her endo "applauded" when she decided not have get pregnant and her Mom was relieved? Was this in 1970? Steel Magnolias is FICTION and most of us have healthy pregnancies today. Maybe she should have seen a geneticist first too if that was her main anxiety. Also, an adopted child could have some unknown serious illness. The way I see it, becoming a Mom or Dad means accepting and loving someone who may not turn out how you expect it. The kid my have D, may have a learning difference, may have another illness. They may even have a personality that you find difficult. You have to be sure you'd love them even if they were adopted and got D anyways!!!!!

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I completely agree with you, Sarah - and then some!  I thought her tone was really condescending.  It's as if she believes that a T1 deciding to have a biological child is a totally irresponsible decision.  We all hate those generalized, innaccurate myths about T1 diabetes, right?  The ones that say we ate too much sugar and that's why we have D... here's another couple of hated, innaccurate myths to add to the pile: that it is dangerous for T1's to have children, that a T1 pregnancy endangers the mom and the baby, and that children of T1 parents have  a high likelihood of being T1 themselves.  Those statements are just NOT TRUE. 

I truly hope that no one read that article and is now afraid to have biological children or thinks it would be an irresponsible choice.  You can have a very healthy pregnancy if you are committed to doing so.  Just because you have T1 doesn't mean things will automatically go wrong.  I had a very boring (in a good way!) 9 month pregnancy and a birth that went exactly the way I wanted it to.  Of course, I'm like any other mother and I do worry about my daughter.  I do occaissionally worry about her getting D, but I know that I can't control it.  Even if I didn't have D, she could end up with it or with something worse.  Those things are true whether you adopt or not.  I'm not slamming adoption and I hope it doesn't come across that way.  I think there are many wonderful reasons to adopt a child.  But don't kid yourself into thinking that you have more control over your child's medical outcome just because you adopted them and they don't share your DNA.

 

I do not plan to have children, but that is completely unrelated to being a diabetic.  I get angry when people assume that my choice is because of diabetes.  If anything, my choice is based more on my anxiety disorder than diabetes.  I don't want to have children because I do not want that responsibility.  At this point, I do not feel called to that life.

I know parents who only had children because "isn't that what married couples are supposed to do?" and they do a bad job of raising their kids.  Even as a little girl, I wanted to be an artist or a scientist, not a mommy.  Legos and Playmobile were higher on my list of favorite toys than dolls.

Lots of good points have already been made here.  If you're responsible about it and can keep good control, there's no reason a T1 shouldn't have biological children.  Personally, my husband and I do plan to start a family in the next couple of years.  I've got a pump and CGM, a great medical team, and the motivation to keep myself in check.  No worries here.

I had 2 healthy children, and I personally didn't find it that much harder than managing your day to day.  I saw the doctor alot and had a lot of sonograms, and the docs worried about them being over weight, which is a big concern if you have high blood sugars during pregnancy, and my two girls were 6lbs4oz, and 6lbs8oz.   They are healthy and i do not worry about them getting diabetes b/c no one in my family has it.  Not to say i do not check their sugar when they are sick...but they don't mind and I would rather know as soon as i could

I agree with the others who say the article is condescending and implies that a T1 who has their own child is causing some kind of maltreatment to their child.  My son is now a year old. Yes, keeping good control of my BGs was hard, but not impossible - and completely worth it.  I still had scary lows and a few bad highs, but good overall control was there.  Unlike the author's endo, my own endocrinologist 'applauded' my great A1c.  And it was a 'relief'' to my family when my son was born completely healthy. I never even considered not having children because of T1.  To be honest, I think that any T1 who references Steel Magnolias is suspect.  My son may develop D, and I will feel bad for him, be scared for him, and have many many tears - but I would never consider it my 'fault' just like I don't blame my own D on my mom (who is also T1).

Sarah and Spaghettio,not to turn this post...but are you both saying the movie-Steel Magnolias is not based on a true story ?? All this time I thought it was and once my daughter got type1 I never wanted to watch it again.It has bothered me for years...I really thought the book was written about  a real girl with d then turned into a movie...

Meme - the movie was supposedly based on a true story, but think of this way: if they made a movie about Casey Johnson's life and how she died and blamed it all on her diabetes, you'd know there was more to the story.  Like how you actually have to take good care of yourself, keep your blood sugars in check, carefully carb count and take the correct amounts of insulin...etc.  But I guess a diabetic who is succesful in life and successful at taking care of themself would be a boring movie.  So that side is never portrayed. 

Here's a really great aritcle for you to check out; it's written by an endocrinologist and is about Hollywood's harmful portrayal of D: http://www.diabetesmine.com/2009/08/how-hollywood-kills-diabetes-education.html

- you go girl!  adoption is amazing!  we have 3!

hi Candace ,You are right about care and I thank you so much for that link.I read everything,all the comments too.I have a better understanding of it now.Feel much better about it.Thank you :)

I love steel magnolias, but the movie is SOOOO fake. u never see her testing/injecting etc.! 

When I originally posted this article I knew it would spark passionate discussion and I suspected that some people might take it the wrong way. I think those that are saying this article is condescending should reread it. 

Its not irresponsibly spreading any myths. It never says anywhere that people with Type 1 diabetes that decide to have children are irresponsible. It never implies it either. The author never tells readers what decision they should make. It is one person's perspective about her decision to adopt because of this very real issue. It was about her and her family.

Statistics prove that children of Type 1 parents are more likely to also develope diabetes. Thats a fact. Even though the risk of having a child with diabetes is higher for diabetics than non-diabetics, they are still relatively small. Children of men with Type 1 diabetes have a 6% chance of developing diabetes. With women, the risks vary. A child born to a woman with Type 1 diabetes, who is younger than 25 years old, has a 4% chance of getting diabetes. After that age, the risk drops to 1%. The odds double if the parent was diagnosed prior to the age of 11 years old. Children of non-diabetic parents have less than a 1% chance of getting Type 1 diabetes.

As the person that posted this article and as someone planning to start a family in the next few years, this topic really hit home for me. I am worried about potentially passing on diabetes to my children because I know how hard living with this disease really is. Adoption is something I am considering. Of course, adoption comes with its own set of potential risks. 

I think Kelsey did a nice job in writing the article, sharing a very personal decision in an attempt to potentially help others, and give her point of view. Just as each of you is entitled to make your own decisions and express your views, so is she. That doesn't make her condescending. It also doesn't mean that you have to agree with her.   

I have noticed in this forum there is a tendency by some to easily get "offended" or read a negative meaning into a post that just isn't there. This is a forum for people with Type 1 diabetes, meaning in one way or another, we're all in the same boat. Anyone reading between the lines should stop and read what's actually in the article instead of easily getting their feathers ruffled.

I think people sometimes shy away from acknowledging some of the serious issues associated with diabetes because its not PC. But, as much as we all like think to that there are no difference in being diabetic, unfortunately there are. That doesn't mean we can't work hard to ensure diabetes doesn't slow us down. There are some things though that all the hard work in the world won't change and one of them is the statistics associated with the risks of passing diabetes to our children. The sad fact is that data shows children of parents with Type 1 diabetes are at greater risk. That was an issue that Kelsey evaluated differently than some others do. Its also apparent from the article to me that it wasn't the only factor as I think its pretty clear that she also felt passionately about adopting a child that didn't have a home. Her decision was right for her as I'm sure it will be for some others.

Anyway, for what its worth, thats my two cents.

hi DiabetesNewsHound, I am ashamed to say this but when my daughter first got type1 ,my thoughts were if I had had her as my firstborn,I would not have had anymore children...It was a thought made in a time of dispare and I am sure thankful things never happened,in that order.I would have missed out on some of the best things to ever happen in my life.I will say that knowing everything now that she would get type1..I would have her again in a heartbeat !!!!!! :).If I could turn back time,I would want even more kids.I know one day she will want to marry and have a family.She has told me that herself .I want her to be a mom .I also want her to be safe .If she has children or adopts,wonderful !! If one of her children gets type1.we will work through it .It would be hard to see it happen again in the family.We really don't know what will happen in the future to anyone.Might be type1 or something else.I just know some of the most beautiful people sometimes have some extra loads to carry in this life...

I'd like to add one more thing.  I thought my husband had a great response when I told him about the elevated chance of any future kids developing T1.  Without missing a beat, he said:  "Well then, we'll know exactly what to do and how to take care of them.  I mean, wouldn't we kind of be the perfect people to be in that kind of situation?"  He has a point.

This topic really hits home for me because it is something I've been thinking about alot lately.  I was just recently diagnosed in August 2009.  It was quite a shock to get diagnosed at the age of 26.  Luckily my husband is also a type 1 and was extremely supportive and helpful during those first few months.  It was quite a lifestyle change and I had quite a few bad days that I'm not sure I would've made through without him there helping me.  Since my diagnosis I've brought up having kids with my husband and the risks that it would impose both on me and our child.  He had said that he would be happy with adopting it that was what we decided to do.  However, he also said that if we were to have a child with diabetes the child would have the best support system ever, two parents with the disease that can help them.  I'm still worried about having children because I would hate to have to see my child go through what I've been through and what I go through on a day to day basis but I do believe that with my husband and me as parents that my child would be ok.  I'm still not ready for kids just yet but I do honestly believe that when the time comes I will have my own children and will deal with whatever happens.