My Blue-Eyed Girl?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Smart. Brown Eyes. Tall, dark and handsome. Did you ever have a list like this for the guy you were hoping to land, marry, make a life with together?

What if the list were: High IQ. Green eyes. Fair skin. Is that in any way worse?

Now, what if you want these characteristics in a child? Is it wrong to look for them in a mate if you know you would like to see them in your kid?

And, if for some reason you find your dream mate, decide to have kids and can't, resort to in vitro fertilization: Would it be wrong to CHOOSE these characteristics for your baby-to-be?

According to this article, more and more Devis and their spouses in India are hitting up Indian sperm banks and egg-donor facilities in search of children who have (1) light skin; (2) green or blue eyes; (3) light hair; and (4) high IQs. To meet the growing demand for these traits, fertility clinics in India are importing sperm and eggs from all races, all over the world. India is turning into a genetic laboratory.

Obviously IVF and doomsday prophesies about "engineering" children are not new issues, but something about this article--focusing on the increasing popularity of the practice in India, and the large-scale search for "desirable" sperm and eggs in the U.S. to import--hit closer to home than it has before. We've talked about the ingrained notion many of our moms have that "fair" equals "lovely" before, so that didn't surprise me so much (though it never stops being bizarre to me.) But green eyes? Light hair? Why? And what does it mean that these couples in India want these supposedly "superior" children who will look nothing like them?

On the flip side, if you are in the surreal situation in which you have the ability to order traits of your kids, as if items on a menu, why wouldn't you choose "high IQ" over "low IQ," "tall" over "short"?

How do you think a growing number of "less-Indian-looking" babies in India will affect our little Indian babies here at home?

Thoughts Devis?
17 comments:
Sheila said...

This actually completely plays into the earlier discussion of race and racism. Here we are talking about Indian "culture" as if it is some monolithic good that we need to preserve--while our cohorts in India are changing the very face of it! It's disturbing no?

Kavia said...

Hello Devis! Found your blog through Masala Chai and Sepia. Seems like ou guys are hitting a nerve, it's great to see fresh content in the South-Asian arena!

I read this article and it hit me harder than other IVF articles as well. I think, for some reason, many of us second generation Indians have idyllic notions of a life in India that our parents left or that we want to be sure our children know. But obviously "India" is not a static concept but a multivarious, changing, CRAZY state! That this article is disturbing is probably not up for debate. What it actually means for issues of race and culture, obviously, is a different matter. And how it trickles down to us--wow. Lots to think about!

Just BURNT said...

The funny thing about this is, I bet MOST of those Indian couples going for videsi sperms and eggs are totally AGAINST marry people from the countries and cultures those eggs and sperm are coming from!!!!

This to me proves my theory that the primary reason desis are against inter-racial marriage is because of differences in culture.

lisa said...

there is something fundamentally different between looking fir green eyes in a husband and picking them for your kid. One is attraction and one is playing god. This is yet another example of how much white worship goes on in India. I bet couples in china aren't "ordering" white-looking babies.

Anonymous said...

I find the whole thing disturbing and disgusting. Why can't people just be happy with what God gave them? As long as your baby is healthy, what difference does it make what color his/her eyes or skin are?

lyvia said...

Kavia is right. There IS this "idyllic notion" of what it is to "be an Indian" perpetuated by the immigrant parents here in America and embraced by many second generation Indians.

Indians in India are more modern and open-minded than many of the Indians and "second-generation Indians" in America. Is it because Indians in America are so afraid to lose their culture, they've become rigid and static? They are always trying SO hard to preserve the "culture" that they have failed to evolve, move forward. They live by rules from India, circa 1959, like zealots. They are more "auntie" than "aunties".

Well ... FYI: India has changed since the parents immigrated here and India is changing still. They are not "betraying" the culture by doing so. It is not "disturbing". It is natural ... to evolve, morph, change, grow.

btw: I think a blue-eyed Indian girl would be lovely!

TPS said...

Whoaaa...Lyvia, are you being serious? Do you really think that genetically ordering blue eyes for your child shows an evolution on the part of these people?

Anonymous said...

people who are going to judge the couples DYING to be parents and who have to resort to IVF probably don't understand what a difficult situation it is to be in. nobody grows up thinking "one day i'll meet the man of my dreams and we'll raise a family together in a test tube." it's an agonizing process too thorny for a blog comment to describe, having to accept the realization that you will not have children the "regular" way. and then, having to deal with this host of ethical and moral issues on top of it--and you have only scratched the surface here--well, trust me, i don't really wish it on anybody. when we went through it, i had many qualms about dictating traits, and you wouldn't believe the sort of information the fertility clinics keep on file. i had access to whether the egg donor in question was considered "cheerful" by her peers! all of that being said, we opted for the more information approach versus less, precisely because of what you said in the main post--when you ARE in a situation where the information is readily accessible and you have to make a choice, who wouldn't want to make the best choice?

Anonymous said...

by the way. i and my husband are indian. we chose donors who did end up having physical characteristics that don't mesh exactly with ours, for many many reasons. our beautiful, healthy, happy daughter has green eyes. and to be honest? we tell people--like the people in the original article--that there is a history of green eyes in our family, even though there isn't.

lyvia said...

What is so threatening about this? Why must all Indians have brown eyes and dark skin? Are they LESS Indian if they don't?

Are you opposed to genetic engineering? Or are you really opposed to Indians who (in your mind) don't look Indian?

tps said...

Lyvia, the problem is not whether a mixed child is "less" Indian--the problem is that the couples in this article are specifically choosing for their kids to look more white. It's not like Indian woman meets White man, falls in love, has baby. It's Indian woman meets Indian man, and together they decide that they would like their children to look like Malibu Barbie. How can you not find that disturbing?

lyvia said...

TPS: It's disturbing that this apparently bothers you so much! In my mind, there is no "problem" -- as you characterize it. Why do you care what other people's children look like? It ranks right up there with caring about who they marry.

If an Indian couple decides to dye their hair blond and wear blue contacts and give birth to "Malibu Barbie" ... I think it's hilarious, but it's certainly not going to "bother" me! Se la vie!

tps said...

Lyvia, wow, if you don't find any "issue" with plucking your kids ascriptive characteristics off a menu of offerings then we are not starting from the same page. With due respect to the poster who talked about how difficult it is for infertile couples--i don't know anybody who doesn't bristle at the idea of "crafting" the "perfect child." The main issue here, though, to me is the WHY. Why are these Indian couples so eager to have a child that looks white? Where does that come from and, Lyvia, doesn't that give you pause?

Also: It's "C'est la vie."

Anonymous said...

This is creepy. But if I had to go the IVF route, I can't imagine I would ever pick a "stupider" donor over a "smarter" one. Then again, it's not like IQ tests really measure intelligence, right? As for picking green eyes and fair skin--I am SURE Indians in the U.S. would do the same thing so let's not be holier than thou. But I'm not sure we would do it because we think these kids are "superior"--I think we just would want our Indian kids to look a little "different."

CK said...

The issue of "designer babies" is not unique to India, or to IVF couples--soon, all of us will likely be able to determine all sorts of things about our children, from the color of their eyes to the insertion of genes that supposedly correlate with intelligence. It's a slippery slope of course and while I agree that that the "why" of it all, in terms of why Indians prefer fair skin etc, is an interesting one to contemplate, that is quickly going to get buried under much more pressing issues, such as the legal and ethical limits we are going to put on creating these "designer babies."

Anonymous said...

Every culture have their beauty standards for better or for worse. Why is beauty standard of Indians is fair = beautiful? The same reason blonde and skinny = beautiful in West. And if anyone suggests Chinese don't want "White" babies, they should really look into recent trends in Chinese idea of big eyes = beautiful, and rhinoplasty rates in South-East Asia.

I don't find anything astonishing about this. The recessive genes are always more fascinating because they are rare. Even that blue-eyed girl's kids would be brown-eyed if she married a regular brown-eyed Indian.

Surrogacy said...

Great Post.....

I found your site on stumbleupon and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

Thanks for sharing....

Post a Comment