Life & Love

Dear E. Jean: After three years of trying to have a second child, we gave in and did IVF. It worked! We have a second kid, but we also have something we didn’t expect: two frozen embryos. Though it wasn’t part of the plan, we’ve made the decision to try to have these two as well.

Our doctor says the odds are actually pretty good if we have them one at a time. We’ll put a bit of spacing between kids for their health and ours, so they will be frozen for a few years.

My question to you, E. Jean: What do we tell each future child? Do we tell them they were frozen? —Expectant Mother

Expectant, My Eggplant: No progenitor law says you have to reveal everything to your offspring. It’ll be 10 or 12 years before they can even grasp such abstract concepts. But because parents will soon be able to choose their “optimal baby” by gene editing…because it’s now possible with current in vitro techniques to overcome mitochondrial genetic diseases by creating a three-parent baby…because researchers at Harvard and MIT have harnessed the CRISPR-Cas9 tool (a technology that lets scientists edit segments of the genome by removing, adding, or altering sections of the DNA sequence) and researchers in China are editing genes of human embryos using the CRISPR-Cas9 tool…because other researchers are rapidly heading toward the day when rewiring a baby’s brain circuits, altering its biochemical balance, and creating a child who’s smarter, faster, and kinder than its parents will be the norm…because scientists like Elon Musk are already engineering brain/computer interfaces and labs are on track for creating little cyborg toddlers…because of these upcoming developments, I think, Miss Expectant, that when your future children ask where they came from, you can honestly say: “Mommy and Daddy fell in love and created you the old-fashioned way. And then we put you on ice for a bit.”

To complete their nativity story (after an exciting description of their glamorous, five-star chilled accommodations—the upscale, earthquake-resistant chamber, the luxurious little beds of liquid nitrogen, the posh cryoprotectant they were dressed in, and so forth)—conclude with these words: “And you moved to Mommy’s tummy and spent nine months growing secret superpowers.”

PS: For more about the future, read Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Beware: It’s a thrilling book. My cries of rapture as I read it disconcerted half a dozen passengers on my plane to San Francisco.

This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2018. Send questions to E. Jean at E.Jean@AskEJean.com.

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