Monday, July 10, 2006

Imagine Those "Your Mama Is So Ugly" Jokes?

LONDON — A 62-year-old child psychologist has given birth to a boy, becoming the oldest British woman to have a baby. Patti Farrant delivered her son, J.J., by Caesarean section on Wednesday. The baby was conceived after fertility treatments. Farrant has three grown children from a previous marriage. It is the first child for her husband, John, 60, an education management consultant.

Other older British mothers include Liz Buttle who was 60 when she gave birth to a son in 1997. The oldest woman in the world to give birth is believed to be Romanian Adriana Iliescu, who was 66 when she had a daughter in Bucharest in January 2005.

These stories always catch my attention when one comes along in the news seemingly every month or so. Does anyone have any particular feelings on the subject of the new wave of older parents? It used to be funny to hear about old geezers like Cary Grant, Anthony Quinn, and Tony Randall having kids later in life. As always, however, science has leveled the gender playing field. With the help of fertility treatments, a woman seemingly can carry a child and give birth to it well into her 60's. Even with my own third child on the way, I guess I need another "birds and bees" lesson because I don't get it. What about that whole menopause thing?

Anyway, the libertarian in me says there's nothing we can do to prevent this. Surely child birth is a protected freedom, even though society naturally has an interest in physical the well-being of the children. But what about the emotional well-being of that child? I'd love to see the science regulate itself by only helping younger couples who can't have children and not 62 year-olds who want one more to celebrate a new marriage. But I know that's not going to happen. Money talks, even to doctors. And once the cat is out of the bag, it's gone.

Yet I still feel uncertain about a child coming into the world with a pair of senior citizen parents. Sure, kids are raised by an older dad or even by their grandparents all the time. And I know that such children usually turn out fine in those situations. However, should science be encouraging that it be done this way intentionally? I lost my mother to cancer when I was 15 and that was hard enough. I couldn't imagine the idea of my mom fighting Alzheimer's when I was in middle school.

Hopefully, baby J.J. Farrant will have a happy childhood with his parents. I won't judge them to be unfit simply because they wanted a child late in life. But I must admit that I wouldn't want to be J.J. Farrant myself. He's going to have a tough time in many ways. Remember how cruel we are as 7 year-olds on the playground? That said, I'm sure this will continue to become more common so we'll just have to get used to it. Just another part of this brave new world.


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