Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fertility and the older parent.

John Travolta and Kelly Preston are in the news this week, with an announcement of a new baby. About a year after losing their oldest child, they are now 3 months pregnant with a new baby. This must come as such a blessing to a pair of parents so devastated by the loss of their child. I can only imagine how horrible that whole situation must have been for them, so I am happy that they are able to move forward and pursue familial happiness with their new child.

However, this brings to mind another topic I've been thinking about recently. Fertility and older couples. Kelly is 47 and John is 56, and while they certainly have the means to support another child 10 years younger than their youngest daughter, the question I pose, is: should they? Is it responsible of the parents, or even fair to the child to be born to near-retirement age parents?

In their particular case, these parents will respectively be nearly 70 and nearly 80 when this kid graduates from high school. And while it has been statistically proven that people's life spans are ever extending, it is still a very real scenario that this child will actually be without parents before he/she is even of graduation age.

I see this more and more with the influx of people who are waiting to have kids. Waiting to have the perfect career, waiting to have enough money, waiting until the time is "right"... and then, more often than not, they have trouble conceiving. Women in their 40's trying for the first time to have kids, then having to spend at least another year trying all the fertility drugs, fertilization options, etc. before anything even happens.

Now, don't get me wrong, I completely understand the desire to have children. It's natural, it's normal, I even feel that it's intrinsic. As a woman, it's a difficult urge to avoid having at any cost. However, I think about being a kid myself, being a teenager, and being in my 20's, and how BADLY I needed the love, guidance, and companionship of my parents as I was learning to be who I am today. Then I think about how different my entire life would have been had my parents been geriatric through those formative years. Would my mom have been a girl scout leader had she instead been in her 50's or 60's? Would she have been able to spend hours helping me get ready for prom, through shopping trips, hair and makeup appointments, and late night curfew patrol? Would my dad have coached my softball team had he been in his 60's or 70's? Would he have been able to walk me down the aisle at my wedding had he been 80? Would they have been moving boxes in and out of countless dorm rooms and apartments throughout my college years? Would they even be here now to see the birth of my first child? You have to wonder...

All these experiences that I, and most people have had with their parents, are quickly dissipating for future generations of children with the continued influx of couples waiting so long to conceive. To me, it feels selfish. It feels really unfair to the kids.

What do you think? Does the desire to have children trump all of the consequences of reality, therefore making it "okay" at any cost to anyone involved?

No comments:

Post a Comment