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Status Symbol Babies


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Dear Reader,

Thanks for the thought-provoking article "Building a Better Baby" [October 22]. I sincerely wish that anyone trying to conceive a child would read Dan Savage's book The Kid. It seems to me that with all the technological options available, people don't consider adoption very seriously, and I think this is a mistake. Aren't compassion and love two of the greatest human values? I found a ton of compassion and love in Savage's adoption story, even from an admitted cynic like himself. When I hear about couples struggling to conceive by all available means, it doesn't sound like love to me. It sounds like selfishness and narcissism, really. Why is it so important that a baby have her father's eyes? A baby needs love and care, not necessarily from someone who looks like her.

As for genetic engineering, the article poses a lot of tough questions to which I would add a few more. If we edit out every supposedly problematic genetic predisposition, what happens to learning and growing from one's own personal challenges? If someone is willing to have only the most genetically advanced baby, do they really love that baby? What if the genetic engineer makes a mistake and the baby has the "right" eye color but no motor function or some other serious disorder?

Yes, having a child is a personal decision, and I'm glad that personal decisions are at least theoretically protected in this country. With this freedom of course comes responsibility. In this case, I believe the responsibility is to ask oneself a lot of tough questions, to look into possibilities like adoption, and to remember that a baby is a human being, not an achievement, a triumph of science over nature, a status symbol, or a "mini me."

Marianne Potje

Lincoln Park

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