Watch Our Family Grow

Thursday, March 02, 2006

All Mixed Up

One thing that has surprised me about parenting -- and at this point, my journey towards parenting consists of a lot of reading and thinking and talking -- is how much it makes me think about my own childhood and background. For me, thinking about reproducing has brought up a lot of racial stuff. I am a Jew, and I find myself suddenly completely aware of the extent to which that's a racial category. I have taken to referring to myself as 200% Ashkenazi Jew. And when I think about reproducing, suddenly that matters to me. I never thought that much about whether my hypothetical children would *look* like me, but I've become incredibly aware of genetics.

Browsing donor catalogues at sperm banks often feels to me, dangerously, like an exercise in eugenics. It is possible to look for specific genetic markers; it is possible to look for specific racial/ethnic groups. In fact, it is even probable, since what else is there to go by, really, when picking a donor from a catalogue, a person you have never met and may never meet?

But that kind of process makes me deeply uncomfortable. My study of history, and my teaching of history (to middle school students) has shown me that over and over again, the desire for racial purity leads to genocide.

At this point my partner and I are considering using a known donor. But if that doesn't work out, we will pick a donor regardless of race/ethnicity; or rather, we will intentionally pick one that is in some way mixed. If my wife and I could reproduce, we would deepen the gene pool; she is Irish, Italian, Polish, and Ukrainian/Czech (not sure). We want our children to be mixed, not necessarily a mix of the two of us -- since alas that is not an option -- but whatever they are, we want to mix it up.

Soon, mama, my whole world.

It fills me with more joy than I can really express in words that I, with my little family, might be able to move the human race in that direction.


At 2:35 PM, Blogger Lo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:36 PM, Blogger ohfamilyL said...

I am adding a comment to my own blog because I want to clarify something. When I say that my genetic/racial background matters to me, I do NOT mean that I have a sudden strong desire to pass on Ashkenazi Jewish genes.
If all goes according to plan, I will give birth to one child, so as it happens, I WILL be passing on those genes. But do I need my genes in both my children? I, personally, don't feel that need. Right down to the fact that it's okay with me if whatever donor we end up choosing doesn't have *any* Ashkenazi Jew in his background.


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