Family history, should I continue, to continue the line?

Hello all of you! I thank all in advance that offer suggestion, or just take the time to read my post. I’m a 42yr old guy who’s considering children with my beloved wife, however due to my family history,(and partially hers) are contemplating ending the line. My family has been ravaged by schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, and depression. I have remained unaffected, however my father, 2 elder brothers, 1 aunt I know of, and 1 cousin have advanced schizophrenia. My sister is bi-polar, shrill and vicious, and there’s a good chance my dads dad was either mild schizo or bi-polar. My wife’s family battles severe depression, and has a 2nd cousin with schizophrenia. We have set a meeting with a genetic specialist and a psychologist together to help us determine our risks, however any advice from people that have been in our shoes will be greatly appreciated.

My wife and I opted for a vasectomy based on my family’s laundry list of medical and mental health woes. We are looking into becoming adoptive parents.

We are considering vasectomy as a choice, but were not sure we are overestimating our odds. Thanks for responding so quickly!

Genetics is such a toss of the dice. I have an Uncle who is Sz but he has sons who are my age of 29 and perfectly functional, normal, and healthy.

My Dad is healthy and functional, but I’m the one with Sz.

Getting as much info as you can, and weighing the pros and cons is the only way to go.

Adopt, or have a child of your own genes, as long as you love this child, I don’t see a wrong answer here. Parenting is hard no matter what.

For me, I’d say my fear is not so much the risk of passing on the genes, but the risk of relapsing and not being a good father. The guilt of bad parenting would break my heart more then the guilt of genetics.

I will warn you, it might be cheaper and the recovery time is a lot less than tubal ligation, but a vasectomy fucking HURTS! I don’t care what anyone says. Keep this in mind. Ask the urologist for some narcotics, and buy a bag of frozen peas. I had mine performed by Planned Parenthood, and it was covered under my insurance. I think I paid $40 out of pocket. After the vasectomy, you will need to masturbate 20 times to “clear the lines out.” Then you have to give a semen sample to the urologist, and 99.99% of the time, it will come back as sterile. Any other questions, please free to ask.

Yes, the pros & cons. I’m 42, shes 38 could we handle a 16-18yr old schizophrenic child in our late 50’s early 60’s? And knowing what we know now will help, but will that be enough? Adoption will be a tough option for me. TY

I’ll stay away from the PP! And the frozen peas I have heard are critical!

If I had to do it over again, I would not use or recommend PP. I would have a regular urologist do it. Some may be more reluctant than others to perform one, but based on your age and family history, you could probably convince any urologist to do the procedure.


I recommend reading these docs on our web site - they can help you give a better idea on the risks (they might not be as high as you think):

The thing is, I really want kids. My own kids. I could deal with anything,but more schizophrenia.

I hear ya. My wife can’t have kids either, so we are both effectively sterile. She has a hormone imbalance, and will have her period maybe once a year. These are just my thoughts, I’m not imposing them on you, but I really had to think hard about bringing a kid into this world, with all the crap happening.

Not sure if you were alluding to this, but you could go see a genetic specialist who might be able to give you a clearer view of the whole picture.

Yes TY, I have read those, which has caused us to set up a joint meeting with a genetic specialist/statistician and psychiatrist.

Yeah: one definition of macho is jogging home from a vasectomy!


It’s a tough decision when you know ahead of time what you may be dealing with. I had little to no knowledge of schizophrenia or mental illness when I got pregnant with my son. Now I’m more aware of who in his family has/had problems including perhaps my own undiagnosed father. My son was diagnosed at age 17. He is now 20. Yes it’s hard some days, weeks, months…

I had no knowledge of scoliosis when I got pregnant with my daughter. Found out when she was 16 and having back surgery that my father had it as do others in the family including myself and my son although minor versions of it. Apparently it’s quit common. I have almost lost my daughter twice. Once when she was born and once after her back surgery. Both instances she stopped breathing.

In both instances if I had had more knowledge then perhaps things may not have progressed as they did but I can’t really say for sure. I only know that I would not give up having either one of them. If I had a choice between having them as they are or not having them, I would do it all over again.

Yes, like. Barb, if I had realized before what I realize now, I would still have had my son. So he has, sz. He’s still fundamentally the same person, only a bit more heroic in my eyes because of the way he deals with it. I think that going to a genetic counsellor is a good idea, plus looking at prevention. Obviously sz and BP can have different causes, but when it is caused by genes, there are quite a lot of things you can do to prevent the gene/s being “triggered”. During pregnancy, your wife can make sure she takes folic acid, fish oils, choline, and tries to avoid viral infections. You can learn assertive, non-aggressive ways of dealing with negative emotions etc. You can keep a “clean” house - no alcohol, cigarettes, dope, ever - so your kids learn that it is possible to have a good life without them. You can make sure they eat an “anti-inflammatory” diet from the get-go. You can be a family that takes plenty of regular exercise. A lot of these things help to prevent, and also reduce the severity of the illness, if it does come on.

But aren’t they just the best way to run a family anyway?

Also, don’t forget, overall treatment has got much better in the last few years. It’s likely to continue to improve. It’s possible that in your children’s lifetime, sz and BP may become fairly minor problems. As you see from these boards, many people already manage it incredibly well and have a very good quality of life.

An adopted child is not a ticket to safety, he or she can have other problems you are not aware of. Teenage will be harsh anyway, with or without SZ. I have a family history of mental illness, I am the only one with SZ, but I decided to have a child and I am glad I did. When I will have figured my life out more than I do now I will adopt another child for the sake of it. But I don’t expect to not have problems while raising my kids.

The real question is: are you ready to be parents? If you are, the option you prefer is the best option.

I used to take comfort in the fact that my siblings and I were all childless and would therefore not pass on the mental illness issues in our family… But then my over-40 sister got pregnant… It’s very hard for me to feel a “normal” sense of joy about it, my perception of our genes is so negative…

We get quite a few emails from people who are thinking of adopting children from parents (either just the mother, or sometimes the mother and father) who have schizophrenia - and who want to know more about the risks of these children.

Plus there are other common issues like fetal alcohol syndrome - in adopted children. The people giving up their children are usually not the well-adjusted, middle-class income, or other “regular” people - its people who are stressed, poor, in bad health, etc. there are no easy answers in this area.

It sounds like you would be devastated by that. And, there are studies that have shown that babies conceived from fathers of an older age have a greater risk of sz.