Bi-polar Birthparents!

Updated on March 01, 2011
J.V. asks from Reading, PA
13 answers

My husband and I recently adopted a beautiful baby boy. His birth mother is bi-polar, and the birth father 'may' be also, but definitely has some other issues. In speaking to our social worker, the BM has some major issues ( and is why she gave our son up for adoption). The BF has drug and alcohol issues, and we don't know his actual back story. My question is, I have heard that our son has a 70% chance of being diagnosedif both birth parents have the disorder. Has anyone had any experience with it, and what/ when should I look for 'signs'. Thanks, I am completely clueless about this.

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So What Happened?

We have only shared his medical background with my sister and my MIL. We do not want anyone making judgments for no reason. Luckily, we were able to share the fact that she did NO drugs or alcohol during pregnant (other than for the bi-polar) but again, everyone has been satisfied(as well they should) with the 'no illegal drugs' response we have given. We are also running into an issue because the birth father is currently in jail for drug related offenses. EVERYONE is asking about him. Since it is an open adoption our friends keep asking. Again, I don't want my sons birthparents backgrounds to change how our friends or family feel or act around him. I think nurture means MUCH more than nature, and we love this kid solo much it hurts sometimes (in a good way of course)

More Answers



answers from Chicago on

My biological father has bi-polar, and I do not. There is an increased chance, but it's not something you can control, so please don't stress about it. The signs do not usually show up until 20s to 30s, but sometimes it can be seen in children. Share your concerns with the pediatrician as to what you can look for in children, and also question the 70% statistic. That seems like a high number.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

One way bi-polar is brought about is drugs. So u need to make sure you are honest with your child about what can happen to him if experiments with friends. Most people who develop bi-polar don't have bi-polar parents.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I can't help you on what symptoms or signs you should look for but I do have a concern. As much as a good parent should always be on the look out for behaviors or medical signs that you should take action, as the adopted parents please be careful.

My friend's adopted son's birth mother drank during his pregnancy. I met them when he was four years old and as our boys were the same age, became and are very good friends. The one statement she makes that concerns me is that she often wonders if who he is or how he does in school is in relation to what his birth mother did. Since he now, in fifth grade, is doing well, she hasn't made the statement in quite some time. But as an adopted person myself, your son's outcome can be anything. IF you treat him as if this wasn't his biological background, and not waiting on bated breathe for signs, he will feel better about himself. I am not saying ignore the symptom or don't treat)

And I wouldn't share with the world unless you start seeing signs (that a medical doctor has listed for you) and then be careful who you tell. The world is cruel and you need to make sure that doors are open for him not closed.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

How generous of them to label your little son for you. Stay clueless-with a mom like you he can't go wrong! People with major issues often do not attempt to restructure their lives for success-if you had bi-polar disorder-would you treat yourself with drugs and alcohol?-of course not-you'd be proactive about the issues and change them! God bless you!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

My Mother was Manic-Depressive, my sister is also. I am not and my son has shown no signs of it either. I do believe that these illnesses can be genetic, but they can also skip generations or part of generations. Just like we have alcoholism and diabetes on both sides of the family tree - but my sister and I have no problems with these.

Talk to your pediatrician - they will know what you should look for.

Congratulations on your new baby!!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Tell people to back off, it's really none of their business. Geeze, my little brother is adopted and people can be so rude. Just tell them you are keeping his birth parents history private so you can all start fresh together as a family. You don't owe anyone any excuses or explanations.

As for the bi-polar, it is treatable. If he does have it, which would most likely present in his teens, you will be so ready and totally prepared and know the things to look for. Consider yourself lucky for the warning.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

i know you got your answers already, but as someone already said, bipolar doesn't typically rear it's ugly head in kiddos, mostly in late teens, early addition....if he later on is diagnosed w/bi-polar, you'll simply be there for him, with him, encourage him, etc.
i understand your concern but even if he is ever dx w/it, worse things could happen. as far as sings, try to delete this from your mind til he's way older b/c my 2 yr seem bipolar every day...but HE'S 2! lol :)
anyway, it'll be okay mama, congrats on your new boy. son's dad (my ex thank God) was in special ed for dyslexia (sp) and i also worry about my son's development, etc., but then i think, welll....we'll just deal with it IF it comes along. so, i can relate. :) take care.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Depression and mental disorder is genetic to a degree just as addiction is. Read what you can on it, but dont worry about it now, enjoy your baby boy and keep your eyes open once he's older. Congrats.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I think the wisest thing is to discuss your questions with his pediatrician.
Otherwise, I would not mention ANYTHING else about the parents' mental health to anyone.
I'm pretty certain that your pediatrician will tell you this will be something to "keep an eye out for" down the road.
Also, most drug addicts (or at least MANY) do have untreated or undiagnosed mental illness and the drug use is self-medication, so you can see why these troubled biological parents have been drug addicted.
Best of luck to you & your little boy!



answers from Las Vegas on

I am sure they were trying to prepare you, but two mentally retarded parents still have a chance of a child without it.



answers from Houston on

you and everyone else will love this kid no matter what his background or his future holds. kids are wonderful and you are going to be a great mother and you will handle this wonderfully. trust me you will love him with or without a disorder. you are dong the normal first time parent thing worrying about somthing that may or may not happen.



answers from Wausau on

My birth mother is bi polar and my birth father is schizophrenic... while genes do give children a predisposition to a mental illness I think the way he is raised may be key! I think around puberty is probably the time when most children with manic depression show symptoms, however, it all has to do with the amount of stress and anguish their experiencing in their life, and how they have learned to deal with it. I would not over think it to much, just raise your son like anyother child, just be aware of signs of depression for when he gets older.



answers from Tampa on

Congrats on the adoption! It sounds like you have fallen deeply in love with your new baby, and I am sure that you will have a wonderful and rewarding experience in raising your child, regardless od the biological parent's mental health issues. Now, that being said, I want you to understand and recognize how very lucky you are to KNOW in advance about the bio parents health and mental health issues. There are so many times when a child is adopted and there is not enough info about the bio parents history, or the info is not correct. Information is your freind here. Your son MAY be more genetically predisposed to certain things because of his bio parents, but what if you didn't have their mental health info? What if they were never diagnosed or had been incorrectly diagnosed? You would have no more info. than most people starting out, and would have to base your "fears and concerns" on what most parents have to base their on. Time. I am sure that with all of your love and attention, being in a stable, loving and nuturing home, and having the medical care needed from the start your son will be just fine. Even if he does end up being diagnosed as bipolar, which he may not be. I have custody of my 8 yr old niece, and she has pediatric bipolar disorder. I fought the diagnoses for YEARS, because I just didn't want to admit that it was actually the issue. With children, the pattern can go in waves of a few months of really good behavior, and then a few months of difficult behavior. (nothing horrible here, just defiance which was NOT age appropriate) The pattern can be as I said months at a go, or even weeks or days. It depends on her and she can "switch" without warning. I finally agreed to accept her diagnoses and allow the doctors to give her low dose meds to help her with mood stabalization when her behavior was becoming an issue at school and with her peers. (she really wanted to act "normal" and make some friends.) I am happy to report that she has been on these very low dose meds for a little over a year, and has had no behavior issues at school, and is quite popular with her classmates now. She has always been on the principals list with her grades because she is so smart, (gets all A's)We have had just as many challenges in dealing with our other kids medical issues as we have with our niece's bipolar. It is a medical problem, just like if she had allergies, so as far as others opinions of it I really don't discuss it with people who are not important in her life. (teachers, doctors, etc) It is a disease, and it does come with a certain stigma still, but so does adhd, and society is coming around on that one. I really think you need to relax and not worry so much about this with your son. You love him, and can't change his family connections, and honestly whatever happens will happen. Just give him the best start that you can. We didn't get my niece until she was 2 1/2 and some outside damage had been done as well. I really wish you and your son the best!

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