Given the opportunity to choose, should people with BPD reproduce?

I’ll be 33 at the end of March this year (2012). Ever since my late 20s – probably like most people – I’ve been pondering whether or not I want to have children of my own. At the moment this is like putting the cart before the horse because I don’t even have a girlfriend. As a result, thinking about having children when one is not a position to actually create them might seem like a waste of mental energy. In this case I’m probably just creating unnecessary stress.

These thoughts returned to my head, however, after watching a recent Anderson Cooper 360 report about an eugenics experiment that took place between the 1930s-1960s in most states across the USA. Eugenics is the practice of selective reproduction to rid mankind of any perceived weaknesses or bad genes. With respect to this particular experiment, people labeled “degenerates, feeble-minded” or otherwise not on par with social norms were forcibly sterilized to prevent their ills from spreading to future generations.

Yes, you read that right: FORCIBLY sterilized. Young men in public rehabilitation institutions (mental hospitals, orphanages, etc.) were brought into an operating room, given a mild anesthesia, and then had their testicles cut off. Literally. Women had an equally barbaric procedure performed on them that left them barren for life. The complete AC 360 Report is here.

The project was deemed so “successful” that Nazi Germany expressed interest in California’s highly efficient eugenics program, using it as a model for their eventual acts of genocide. At present, living victims of America’s eugenics program are seeking financial damages from state governments to sustain them in their later years, obviously because they have no children of their own to support them. Of more than 30 participating states, only North Carolina has apologized and offered settlement money.

I am diametrically opposed to the whole notion of eugenics. There is no way to determine the type of offspring a man and woman might produce; even if they seem like the perfect candidates for making “super” babies. The fact is, genetic anomalies in the process of creating a baby can go either way. Two perfectly healthy parents could produce a handicapped child; just as two seemingly unfit parents could produce a normal, productive human being. The premise that poor families, sickly people, or minorities are somehow ill equipped to reproduce is despicable. My belief is that if you’re alive, you have to right to reproduce. Whether or not you choose to do so is a personal decision.

That said, the question of whether or not I should reproduce – given my Type 1 diabetes and BPD – lingers in my mind. Both of these diseases are thought to have genetic components. Therefore, if I choose to have children, I risk spreading these horrific genes to the next – and future – generations. Furthermore, if I got lucky and had healthy children, chances are my BPD would wreak havoc on their childhood, exposing them to an inconsistent, highly temperamental parent that would be absent when it comes to providing a truly nurturing, validating environment.

This eventuality is the one I fear more than anything else. No matter what, good kids forced into a bad parenting environment will develop problems. At minimum it might be anxiety or anger; at maximum depression, BPD, Bipolar disorder, or worse. Toss in the fact that their father already has these dispositions hardwired into his genes, and it’s all but certain your child will be in and out of therapy into their adult life.

To be sure, I’m not trying to overestimate my importance to the human race: “generational” family problems come and go as one’s lineage further expands down the line. My point is that I wouldn’t want to cause my children any more pain and suffering than is necessary. If ensuring this goal means not having children at all, so be it.

In the immediate future, my goal should be finding a good partner who would offer some much needed diversification to my inbred gene pool 🙂 . There’s a bit too much Irish in me, and this inevitably leads to one or some combination of the 4 D’s: Depressed, Degenerate, Drunk, or Denial. My ideal partner would be someone least likely to have any of these characteristics, so that if we choose to have kids, at least there’s a 50/50 shot my genes will end up inactive and recessive.

I don’t think having BPD automatically disqualifies people from reproducing. I just think it is important factor to consider when making the all-important decision to bring children into the world. If you already know you have BPD, consider it a point in your favor. The more you learn about yourself and your body, the better you’ll be able to create a loving, informed, and nurturing environment for the children you choose to create.