DEAR PRUDENCE

My wife is East Asian — is it OK that I only want to have white children?

Posted Dec. 01, 2012, at 4:23 p.m.
Emily Yoffe
Emily Yoffe

Dear Prudence,

My wife, who is infertile, and I have recently decided to have children — we’d like eventually to have three — using an egg donor. (We decided against adoption because we would have no biological connection to our children.) We have just settled on this option, but it has thrown open a whole new dilemma for me. I am white and my wife is East Asian. Her race isn’t a problem for me and I would have had no difficulty raising mixed-race children, but frankly, now that I have the choice, I’d prefer my kids to be white. We live in a fairly homogeneously white area, and at the end of the day I want my kids to look like me, their cousins and the kids they’ll go to school with. I don’t think my wife has ever experienced racism, but I think she might understand my point of view. Then I think I maybe I’m just convincing myself about this. I really could use a second opinion before I breach the subject with her.

— Want to be Dad

Dear Want,

Reince Priebus, is that you? I can see how increasing the white population might be a good strategy for raising GOP turnout on election day. However, if you’re not the chairman of the Republican National Committee, and you only want to increase the white population because you don’t want your kids to resemble your Asian wife, then it’s good you ran this by me before proposing it to her. How generous of you not to have a “problem” with the fact that you married an Asian woman. And how grotesque that now that her eggs are out of the picture, you’ve decided this is a great opportunity to keep your kids from being mixed race. There’s just no way to express to your wife the thoughts you’ve conveyed here without sounding as if you’re a spokesperson for the Council of Conservative Citizens. There are many ways to become parents, as you know. With adoption, sometimes it’s obvious that the children are not the biological offspring of the parents. In the case of sperm or egg donation, the parents may choose to keep private that they used assisted reproduction, which is possible by selecting a donor who resembles the infertile parent. (I still think the child should be told about this, but that’s a separate issue.) Now that you and your wife have decided on egg donation, you first need to just listen to what she’s thinking about the criteria for your donor. It could be she very much wants an Asian woman. It could be she just wants someone healthy and smart to donate and she doesn’t care about race. But your desire for your future kids to look only like you because you have a pre-Brown vs. Board of Education view about their social lives means that before you have children, you need to do a serious reassessment of your assumptions about the world they are going to live in.

— Prudie

Dear Prudie,

I live in an apartment in a large city. My elderly neighbor immediately across the driveway has started playing the tuba and never stops. He is not talented and literally sits and blasts out the same few notes over and over for hours at a time. He never leaves the house, so tuba playing ends up being a constant possibility. I work from home seven days a week on my doctorate. I don’t have an office on campus, and I can’t carry all my dissertation books to the library to get some peace. I understand that I have no control or say in what other people do in their home, but I am wondering whether it is appropriate to talk with him. If so, what should I say?

— Please Stop

Dear Please,

Here’s one for you:

Q: “What’s the difference between a chainsaw and a tuba?”

A: “Some people enjoy listening to a chainsaw.”

I got this from an entire page of tuba jokes that I’m sure you’ll now find even less funny than you would have before your neighbor took up his musical passion. Talk about a cry for help. I’m wondering if this poor guy is trapped somewhere and what you’re thinking is a tuba concert is his desperate attempt to signal for an ambulance. You need to go over and discuss this with your neighbor. Sure he could blow you off, but a civil conversation might bring some relief. Arrive with a box of chocolates or some such, explain you’re a poor graduate student who needs quiet to do her work, and you’re wondering if he could limit the hours of his practice, or play the tuba in the basement, if he has one. If that doesn’t help, it could be that the constant honking is violating a local sound ordinance, so call the police. And if there are other neighbors who are home during these Grateful Dead-length marathons who would feel grateful to be dead rather than have to listen to any more, maybe you could all get together and buy this guy a piccolo.

— Prudie

Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. Questions may be edited.

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