Every Thursday I arrive at the Writing Center at 8:00 am. No one usually comes in for tutoring until around 9:30 am, so I spend some paid time enjoying my morning coffee, checking my email, completing my daily crossword puzzle, catching up on the blogs I read, and reading the weekly installment of “Dear Prudence” on Slate. This morning, Prudie started with this one:
My boyfriend and I are in a healthy and loving relationship, and we are beginning to talk about marriage. We both want the same number of kids at the same point in our lives. It is presumed that these will be our biological children. The issue is, I’m not sure that I would want to bear my boyfriend’s children. While he is incredibly intelligent and has a great personality, he is markedly less physically attractive than I am. We get occasional lighthearted comments from friends and family about the discrepancy. Having biological children has never been important to me, and I think adoption is great. I believe that he will be an amazing father and that our children, biological or adopted, would be bright and well-behaved as a result of good parenting. Should I bring these thoughts up with him? I think he would be open to the idea of adoption but would also be hurt by my rationale. At what point should we discuss this more seriously, and how should I tell him how I feel?”
Thankfully, Prudence was appropriately malicious in response. While, of course, I feel sorry for the purportedly hopelessly ugly boyfriend, what really baffles me is this woman’s choice of strategy. If you’re shooting for attractive children, why would you decide to adopt? Is she planning on asking the social worker at the adoption agency to be sure to send only good-looking kids her way? Will she cruise the birth parents in the waiting room, hoping to find someone with desirable DNA? Wouldn’t it be easier to visit the local sperm bank and look over some stats? And how would she explain to her children, when they’re older, why they were adopted? Honey, I knew that my superior parenting skills would produce bright and well-behaved children, but I just couldn’t trust your father’s genes. Because obviously intellegence amounts to nothing if you don’t have pleasingly symmetrical features.
This is, of course, a ridiculous situation, but it does make me wonder how the recent spate of celebrity adoptions is changing the way we think about adoption. Does this woman think that, because Brad and Angelina have adopted a few adorable children, this has become the new means to secure and aesthetically pleasing family? I’m invested in adoption as a fantastic option for creating a family, regardless of a woman’s fertility or infertility — or, in this case, regardless of the attractiveness of one’s mate. I hate to see it trivialized in this way, to think that this woman might be signing up as an adoptive parent while secretly crossing her fingers for a Gap baby. She isn’t considering the unique challenges of adoption — what it will mean for her family and the child.
I hope this woman’s incredibly intelligent, loving boyfriend takes his markedly less attractive sperm elsewhere.