Friday, October 20, 2006

Designer Babies

Do we look on our children as accessories? This thought has crossed my mind many times when doing a double take at some of the babies in the mall (and- guilty as charged!- when I have dressed up my own daughter for the portraits which I wrote about recently.) I love hairbows and cute little outfits as much as (or more than) the next person, but there is definitely something creepy about the way some moms seem to tote around their little ones as though they were the finishing touch on their perfect suburban life. Even their baby gear- strollers, playpens, diaper bags, etc. Of course we want the safest and cleanest equipment in which to tote and transport our children and their stuff. But does it have to be the newest and coolest and most expensive? The kid's gonna get it gross in under three months anyways; would gently used hand-me-downs not be smarter?
And the same definitely goes for clothes and shoes and all that. Addy has a ton of cute clothes, I will admit, but the vast majority of them my mom found at fairly inexpensive prices on eBay. This knowledge has made me very happy every time I've had to put away an adorable but outgrown outfit that Adelay wore a grand total of two times. It would have been a lot more painful to say goodbye to that cute dress if it had cost thirty dollars rather than five or six, you know?
But all this grumbling about commercialism in the childrearing realm is actually about something much bigger and scarier than BabyGap. It's about the morality of gender selection, my new focus of obsessive research! Gender selection used to mean abortion of otherwise healthy fetuses who were found to be of the undesired gender. But now it can simply mean IVF methods which require no abortion, but allow you to select the gender of an embryo and then implant it. See, many people now (usually upper class- they're the only ones who can afford it) want to design their own perfect little families, built to specification, a boy first, then a girl, then done, for example. It sounds a little strange, I know, but I have to confess that, coming from a family of four girls, it's very scary for me to contemplate that same fate revisiting me in my adult life- or in other words, I really want a boy! It doesn't have the be the next child or anything, but at some point, it would really relieve me to have a son. Not because I think boys are better or more desirable or anything-far from it!- but because I know what can happen to a household when the testosterone and progesterone levels are severely unbalanced! I love all my sisters dearly, but I can certainly see the benefits of having a brother or two around.
So I did a bit of looking around to see if there's any way, beyond the expensive sperm sorting techniques and in-vitro fertilization, to just kind of up the odds a bit of having a boy. But as I read more, I began to feel a little weird about it, and then I found an article which put into very articulate words all that weirdness I was feeling. Basically, "Maybe this is wrong." (Here's the link: Certainly I don't think it's wrong to wish or hope for something, but to try to take matters into your own hands... It's a little strange, and beyond that, a little humanistic in the very worst sense. It's so untrusting, so fearful, to be too scared to leave it in God's hands. On the other hand, maybe you could say that about birth control, too, couldn't you? That it's untrusting, it's taking something natural into our own hands, etc.
I don't know what the answer is, I really don't. I've actually given it a lot of thought (the birth control thing) and I have arrived at no real conclusion. Because where does it stop? Couldn't you also say that taking a medication is wrong because God intended for you to have that disease? Or that wearing glasses or braces is wrong because maybe God meant for you to have those handicaps? Is cosmetic surgery wrong? Is wearing makeup wrong? Coloring your hair? At what point, exactly, does controlling or altering our physical bodies cross the line and become immoral?
I guess I have a problem specifically with the gender selection because it's not just altering a physical characteristic or solving a health problem for an already existing person as much as it is rejecting the person itself. You are choosing a boy and not a girl, or vice versa. One person over the other, even if just hypothetically. So I have decided that much as I may hope to one day have a son, I would just not feel right about taking measures to try to ensure that my next baby is a boy. I ultimately trust that God will send us exactly the right children for our family, and I wouldn't want any children but them!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that, as we mature, there are more and more questions that are not easy to answer. But as much as is possible, I think you've found the "right" answer (and knowing it's right for YOU is all that really matters!)