The Designer Babies Are Growing Up : At Home With the First Children of the ‘Genius’ Sperm Bank
NO ONE PICKETS outside the Nobel sperm bank in Escondido anymore. Its once-controversial deposits--the sperm of Nobel Prize winners and others possessing high IQs--now stir little more interest than the deposits of the Pacific Coast Savings bank next door.
Seven years ago, they did. The opening of the world’s first unabashedly exclusive sperm bank--designed to pull humanity up by its DNA strands by creating better and brighter babies--was an anti-egalitarian shock heard ‘round the world. Outside the Repository for Germinal Choice, as it is officially called, protesters raised the specter of Hitlerian master-race eugenics. Their outrage had intensified because Nobelist William Shockley, a vocal believer in the genetic inferiority of blacks, was revealed to be a repository donor. Overnight, the quiet little town, whose Spanish name means “hidden,” was invaded by a phalanx of journalists and television-news crews.
The bank’s founder, an aristocratic physicist named Robert Klark Graham who made millions on his invention of a shatterproof lens for glasses, was unperturbed. Well aware that no one agreed with Darwin either, at first, he went on about the repository’s nonprofit business, confident that time would turn the tide of opinion his way.
It has, to a degree, thanks to the constantly escalating advances of modern medicine. Artificial insemination, which now produces more than 20,000 babies a year, has become widely accepted--just a step removed from natural childbirth in contrast to test-tube babies, in vitro fertilization and surrogate motherhood. The same critics who once raised moral questions about Graham’s selective-breeding techniques are now preoccupied with far-reaching new developments in gene mapping, genetic engineering and early prenatal testing. In a world in which parents can learn so much so soon about their unborn child’s genetic makeup that they can legally abort the pregnancy and try for a better genetic “mix” the next time, Graham’s method of “intelligent selection,” as he calls it, seems relatively benign.
Although the controversy surrounding his “genius” sperm bank has faded, Graham’s brainchild has revolutionized the lives of a few once-childless parents. With some of the 41 babies produced by the sperm bank now out of the diaper stage, it’s still too soon to tell the fate of Graham’s ambitious, and to many, troubling, dream: no less than the creation of what he calls a “secular savior,” an individual who could yank our earthly spaceship of fools out of its self-destructive orbit before it’s too late. Meanwhile, it is possible to see the early results of Graham’s aim of producing brainy, productive, creative children, and to pose a few questions: Are these babies really smarter than the offspring of a typical bright couple? If they are, is it nature or nurture that makes them so? And, is brighter really better? Since it took a genius to create the atom bomb, are we foolish to assume another genius can defuse it?
There are ethical questions as well: Even with this comparatively innocuous form of eugenics, there is always a risk of abuse, if only on an individual level. Says child psychologist Lee Salk: “I’m not sure that any of these children will grow up to be geniuses--or even grow up to be happy. Parents so concerned with achievement and intellect could have a tendency to smother and indulge their child too much on the one hand, while pressuring them with exorbitant demands on the other.” (In fact, one repository mother was found to have lost custody of two non-sperm-bank children years earlier because of her relentless and abusive demands for perfection.)
But to the overjoyed parents of these current healthy hybrids, such questions are academic. Many of them are so thrilled, in fact, that they’re planning a second baby. The repository’s work has just begun.
Still, the proliferation of exclusive sperm banks such as Graham’s is a barometer of what some see as a disturbing trend. As author and scientific gadfly Jeremy Rifkin warned at a recent symposium on the ethical questions posed by this genetic revolution, “a new eugenics has slipped in the back door. We not only want perfect plants and animals, we want perfect babies. And while there’s no evil intent here, the road to the Brave New World is paved with good intentions.”
ANNE ANDJEFF Bradley (not their real names) are a San Diego couple in their early 30s. Though their family and friends don’t know that 16-month-old Ashley is only half theirs, genetically speaking, Anne feels obligated to help publicize the repository’s good works, if only to counter what she sees as unfair early publicity. She agrees to sit for an interview after leaving the graphic-design firm she works for and picking up Ashley at a nearby child-care center.
Arriving at a family-style seafood restaurant, she’s carrying one baby on her hip and is pregnant with another. “At first, I wasn’t going to tell Jeff about this interview, because he wouldn’t like me doing it in person--and it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission,” she says. “But I really wanted you to see how much Ashley looks like him.”
Most repository couples refuse to be interviewed, and the husbands in particular seem intent on anonymity; even in the supposedly liberated ‘80s, they seem to associate infertility with impotence. But Jeff’s reluctance, Anne explains, has more to do with preventing Ashley from knowing he’s not her biological father.
Anne is low-key and instantly likable, as quietly strong as she is soft-spoken. But she frankly volunteers that discovering her husband was infertile was bad for her character. “I found myself hating every pregnant woman I saw, I was so filled with envy,” she confesses. “I felt as if my mission in life was being thwarted.” Like the other couples interviewed, though, the Bradleys considered adoption too much of a “potluck” option, Anne says. “Instead, we talked about using the sperm of my husband’s father or brother but decided that would be an emotional time bomb. I even had the nerve to suggest using the sperm of the man I dated before we met,” she says, making a mischievous face, “but that suggestion had a shelf life of two seconds.” That time, she says smiling, it was better to ask permission than forgiveness.
Anne’s 125 IQ is 25 points above average, and her husband’s is about 140. And while they say they didn’t care about creating a genius, they did want to increase the odds of having a bright, special child--a child in their own image. For a year, Anne tried and failed to get pregnant with the sperm of a repository donor. Nothing happened, possibly because frozen sperm, which the repository uses, is 40% less likely to “take” than fresh sperm.
In the meantime, that same donor had started dating a one-time assistant to Graham (she has since left to start her own sperm-bank operation). “Since the chance of conceiving with live sperm is so much greater,” Anne says, “it seemed foolish not to try a more direct approach”--an approach that was undertaken unbeknown to Graham and others at the repository. The donor volunteered to help out by booking a motel room and producing a sperm sample. Then, to preserve decorum as well as anonymity, he left before Anne was scheduled to arrive. With the woman’s help, Anne injected herself with the more viable sperm.
It added up to Ashley, a baby more beautiful than cute even at 16 months. Raven-haired and strong-browed, she brings to mind a miniature Elizabeth McGovern as she steps happily up and down the restaurant aisle dragging a Raggedy Ann by the hair, stopping to have a serious baby talk with another toddler in a high chair. Anne regrets the fact that the new baby won’t be Ashley’s genetic sibling, since a different donor had to be used. (The first donor is now a swinging single--a life style, Anne worries, that carries the risk of disease.)
“We picked the new donor primarily on his physical resemblance to Jeff,” she adds. Jeff, a darkly handsome, easygoing computer software executive, joins the interview in time for dessert. “The funny thing,” he says, “is that we happen to have some relatives and friends with incredibly bright babies. One has an IQ of over 160. So Ashley doesn’t seem that exceptional in that kind of company.” Speaking about the generally negative reaction people have about tampering with reproductive fate, he is genuinely bewildered. “Why is it OK for people to choose the best house, the best schools, the best surgeon, the best car, but not try to have the best baby possible?” While Ashley (who does look like Jeff) slips into his loafers and does a robot shuffle, we talk about the Pope’s new instructions barring the use of advanced birth technologies. “You know,” Jeff says, laughing, “if you read the wording of that thing carefully, it’s clear even the Immaculate Conception wouldn’t meet his guidelines.”
Seconds later, a Mona Lisa smile crosses Anne’s face: Her unborn baby (a boy, according to a recent sonogram) is kicking up a storm. Placing her daughter’s hand on her belly, she asks, “Who’s there?” Ashley sprouts a crooked grin. “Baby dudder!” she squeals.
Dinner arrives, and Ashley displays her recent mastery of eating utensils, managing to get most of her mashed potatoes in her mouth instead of on her Mickey Mouse T-shirt. Between courses, she pulls a Dr. Seuss book out of her mother’s diaper bag. “Wead it to me!” she begs. Anne obliges while Jeff tells stories illustrating Ashley’s amazing sense of direction, her long-term memory and her powers of association. Over dessert, she quietly entertains herself, except for one shrieking outburst when her Coke needs a refill.
When we step outside for a walk, the September air is balmy and the moon could win a Golden Globe Award. “What is that?” says Jeff, pointing skyward. But Ashley’s gaze falls instead on the globe of a street lamp several blocks away. “Light!” she sings. “Yes, but what about way up in the sky, up there?” he coaches, tilting his daughter heavenward. “Moon!” she trills correctly.
Anne says that she and Jeff never think of Ashley as anything other than entirely theirs. “It still seems like such a miracle,” she says. “I still thank God--and Dr. Graham--every night.” A year from now, when Anne qualifies for pension benefits, she intends to quit her job and raise her two children full time. “Being a mother is a lot more trouble than I thought it would be,” she acknowledges, a sentiment Jeff seconds. “But she’s worth it. It’s awkward to talk about all this, but I want to give something back for this miracle, so other childless couples might benefit the same way.”
DAVID AND Adrienne Ramm, a New York City couple whose daughter, Leandra, just turned 3, already have. Six years into their marriage, Adrienne, then 33, learned that her husband was infertile. “I was totally devastated,” she says. “I’m from a big happy family and couldn’t imagine not having one.”
She immediately thought of using a sperm bank, but was discouraged when she was told they’d know nothing about the donor other than his race, religion and coloring. “I’d want to know more about a man than that for a simple blind date,” she protests. A few weeks later, her mother called, excitedly describing a Phil Donahue television program that featured Doron Blake, the second child born of sperm from Graham’s repository.
At her mother’s urging, Adrienne called the repository. “It was so wonderful to know that we could really be assured of getting quality sperm,” she explains. “My first choice was the purple-coded donor (colors and numbers are used to identify the donors while still retaining anonymity), because he sounded the most like David, but after several months of trying, nothing happened. Finally, the sperm sample was tested and found to be immotile; he just didn’t freeze well,” she says, laughing as she realizes how that sounds. Discouraged and disappointed, they chose a second donor, designated “clear.” That donor “fits with my whole philosophy of simplicity and clarity,” adds Adrienne, who, like her husband, is a Buddhist. “Clear” was a science professor, but they were just as impressed with his personality profile: This fair-haired, blue-eyed Northwest European was described as an easygoing fellow who loved gardening, skiing and children.
The Ramms live on Roosevelt Island, a five-minute tram ride from Manhattan, where David commutes to work. Back in the city, smothering midsummer air hovers like stagnant steam, but here an island breeze blows off the East River. From the living room window of their cluttered walk-up, a serene view of the river presents itself, almost as serene as Adrienne Ramm herself. Sitting lotus-style in T-shirt and tights on a dark velvet Art Deco sofa, she rhapsodizes about the daughter who has changed her life.
Unlike her olive-skinned, dark-haired parents, Leandra is extremely fair--an ivory-skinned blonde with aqua eyes. Physically, at least, she verifies Graham’s proud, and scientifically suspect, claim that his donors tend to “breed true”--meaning that their characteristics will dominate in their offspring.
Adrienne is a professional dancer and composer. “It was the easiest pregnancy in the world,” she says, beaming. “I danced the whole time. But after she was born, I decided to stop performing for a while and devote all my time to Leandra.”
Most of the apartment’s limited space is devoted to her as well. The upright piano is flanked by a pile of stuffed animals and dolls on one side and a set of Great Books on the other. A jumble of toys is stacked next to a Macintosh computer; dance and theater posters share wall space with Leandra’s finger-painted creations; stainless-steel and plexiglass fixtures, Victorian lace and bric-a-brac coexist with Walt Disney videotapes and colored blocks.
“We weren’t at all obsessed with having some kind of genius baby,” Adrienne declares. But as she ticks off Leandra’s many junior achievements, she’s clearly proud that her daughter is so gifted: “From birth, she held up her neck by herself and was walking and running at 9 months. Before 2 she talked in sentences; now she’s learning the alphabet and numbers.”
Leandra rushes up to her mother, holding a pink satin ribbon. She stills her perpetual motion as her mother ties back her long curls, then darts from room to room and toy to toy again. “She does run me pretty ragged,” her mother says, and while there is obvious joy in her tired eyes, she sighs with relief when her husband arrives to spell her. A successful computer-systems manager, David entertains Leandra by blowing soap bubbles. As each globe wobbles away, she screams with delight and jumps up to puncture it with her finger.
There is no way to know yet how close her IQ will come to the 200 IQ of her genetic father, but her future appears to be a bright one: David, busily providing the nurture to the donor’s nature, has an IQ of 143--14 points higher than that of William Shockley, the controversial sperm-bank donor.
Happy to show off for company, Leandra trundles into the den to the Apple computer. Frowning with concentration, she punches the keys and numbers required to make a perfect score on Hide and Seek and Sesame Street games. Though not quite 3 and still being breast-fed, she has already started rudimentary reading. “Two nights ago,” her father quietly reports, “she piped up at dinner announcing ‘A is for apple, B is for baby, C is for cat, D is for dog,’ out of the blue.”
For two of her three years, Leandra has been enrolled in a special toddler program that teaches music, dance and tumbling. David, a former tennis instructor, is pleased that she seems to be as athletic as she is artistic.
“And graceful,” says her mother, who offers to demonstrate. Taking a seat at the piano, she begins to play one of her compositions while Leandra dances on chubby little legs.
“She seems to have a talent for choreography,” says Adrienne. “The other day, I was practicing some dance movements, and she started coaching and directing me , telling me how to point my toes, how to move, etc.” Or, she might just be bossy. Well, her mother concedes, as Leandra snatches a pile of photographs away from a visitor with angry yelps of protest, she is rather spoiled and headstrong. In the Ramm pecking order, Leandra rules the roost.
It’s almost 5:30, dinner time. “Will you make the salad?” Adrienne asks her daughter. “Yep,” she says, bounding up, “if you’ll make the meat!” While they work in the kitchen, David gets a word in. “At first, I did feel inadequate and weird about the idea of using a donor. But Adrienne really wanted a baby, and that was fine by me. The only tough part is that since Leandra is so incredibly bright, she’s constantly exploring and challenging and into everything, which can be exhausting. But it’s the price you pay,” he says with a shrug, “for having such a bright baby.”
ACCORDING TO Robert Klark Graham--a slender, handsome 81-year-old with a close-cropped haircut--Leandra and Ashley are hardly exceptions. Almost all the repository’s babies reach developmental milestones much earlier than most toddlers. Their dexterity, he adds, is such that many of them walk before the age of 1; they also talk and utter complete sentences long before Dr. Spock says they should. Whether this is due to heredity or environment is another matter, skeptics point out, since the parents of designer babies typically provide them with an ideal learning environment, from educational toys to progressive nursery schools.
Graham concedes that environment does play a part, but only a small one. “The comforts of modern civilization have thwarted natural selection, allowing the less fit to survive, even thrive,” he observes, sitting in his wood-and-glass office. An energetic man with a crisp, direct manner, he doesn’t seem Hitlerian--though the general tone of his public statements coupled with his proclivity for offhand comments about “those people” and “peasants” suggest that he’s at least an elitist. He claims he has approached black men to be donors, but that none have been receptive to the idea.
In Graham’s self-published and virtually ignored tome, “The Future of Man” (1970), he strikes a strident, alarmist and, many consider, outright racist note, calling man “an evolutionary derelict” and proclaiming that “only man is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.” The result, which he feels threatens the survival of the species, is that “70% of the population possess mediocre intelligence or less, all because huge masses of those with ordinary minds have been allowed to come into being and then proliferate.” As if that weren’t bad enough, he adds on this sunny morning, the best and brightest people aren’t producing enough offspring; focusing instead on their careers, they rarely want the bother of a Walton-size family of their own.
He’s certainly done his part. Graham has eight children conceived the old-fashioned way, albeit with three wives. And he puts in long hours identifying and recruiting suitable repository donors.
His original plan--to use only Nobel Prize-winning donors--was almost immediately abandoned, though not because of the backlash Shockley’s involvement precipitated. “The problem,” he says, smiling, “is that Nobelists are generally so old that all the female recipients were turned off. Even on paper,” he observes, “women are drawn to younger men.”
Today, the bulk of donors are instead well-regarded scientists who have made major contributions to their fields. Graham reasons that success in the sciences is easier to quantify than it is in most other fields, although some sociologists argue that the donors’ achievements could just as easily be the product of hard work, not high IQs. This argument is bolstered by an ongoing Stanford University study, begun in 1921, that followed 1,500 children with IQs over 135 and concluded that their degree of achievement had less to do with IQ than with persistence and the desire to excel.
Another problem, Graham says, is the time it takes a recipient to get pregnant, due to his policy of using frozen sperm. Still, he’s not about to use fresh sperm, as other sperm banks do. Frozen sperm eliminates not only temporal and geographical limitations but also the threat of contaminated samples. AIDS testing, for instance, requires 90 days.
Fortunately, Graham says, Southern California is ripe with potential donors, thanks to the high concentration of brilliant scientists working here. Still, there’s often a last-minute hitch: the wife. “Sometimes they get possessive and bristle at the idea of their mate siring other children; they feel their territory is being invaded.”
Even in the high-tech ‘80s, fooling mother nature is one thing; overcoming human nature is another.
AFTON BLAKE, the repository’s sole single parent (officially, only couples are accepted) didn’t have to clear her decision with a spouse. As she approached 40, Blake was increasingly pessimistic about marriage and romantic relationships but had no similar reservations about motherhood.
Today, she lives with Doron William Blake on Mt. Washington in a rambling bungalow furnished in what can only be termed Early Doron. One has to cut a swath through a primary-colored jungle of stuffed animals, rocking horses, globes, paints and train sets, duck past rope ladders and mobiles and step over a sprawling assortment of tiny parts for an intricate construction toy in order to reach the beguiling green-eyed boy who rules this magic kingdom. Peering out through a thatch of blond hair, he turns down a blaring Cookie Monster tape and says hello. He is putting the finishing touches on something resembling a lunar-landing module.
According to all his preliminary tests, Doron is “highly gifted”; his early test results approach his donor’s 200 mark. Accurate or not, he is obviously advanced for his age--except, his mother says, emotionally. Though barely 5, his grasp of math is that of a second- or third-grader. Just for fun, he likes to multiply in his head, and the abstract paintings along one wall fuel his mother’s hope that, like his namesake, her son may grow up to be a visionary poet and artist.
Blake, a Ph.D. who was also a gifted child, describes herself as a transpersonal therapist specializing in current and past-life regression therapy. She also counsels women who are thinking of becoming single parents. Since Doron’s birth, she has limited her practice to 2 1/2 days a week in order to spend more time with Doron, who will never, she vows, be a latchkey kid.
Doron is the Greek word for “gift,” and at the moment they’re busily wrapping one for the birthday party they’ll attend at a local park. “Print your name on the card,” his mother suggests, to no avail, though he can, when the muse is with him.
Some early press reports portrayed Doron as precocious but something of a Nobel savage, running riot through Los Angeles restaurants, toppling busboys as if they were bowling pins. Today, understandably, Blake is reluctant to talk to the press, but feels that she should--as a public service to other childless singles and couples. “I was too lax on setting limits with him at first,” she concedes. “I don’t feel I’m permissive anymore, but I am flexible. When something is really crucial, I draw the line, but I’ll compromise on less important things.” For instance, Doron breast-fed until he was 4 or so, and though he’s totally toilet-trained now, he wears his diapers to bed as the trade-off for the privilege of getting to sleep with a bottle. Nor does she insist on such sacred ‘50s routines as a daily scrub-down or the force-feeding of hated vegetables. “I want him to think independently,” she explains, and he clearly does--in fact, he even thinks ahead, making oral contracts with himself. “First I’m gonna finish my drawing,” he had bellowed the day before over the phone, “then I’m gonna have my dinner, then I’m gonna brush Tyrone (their shaggy dog) then I’m gonna watch TV, and then I’m gonna go to bed!”
Even with strangers, Doron is trusting and friendly. Taking a visitor by the hand, he conducts a tour of the narrow wraparound yard that serves as his playground. Pausing at a cluster of charred-looking sunflowers leaning on a fence, he laments, “It’s the end of summer, so they’re dying.”
Scrambling up an aluminum ladder leading to a flat-topped roof, Doron points out landmarks. When asked if he has any aunts and uncles, he brightens. “Yes! I have my Uncle Mark and Uncle Hugh, and anyway, I have a TV and a video machine and lots of cassette tapes too!”
At the party, the socialization of Doron continues apace. When the birthday boy, Edmund, says he’s 5, Doron counters, “I’m already 5, and I got lots of presents at my party too!” But when other kids are grabbing for the best piece of cake, Doron turns chivalrous. “I don’t care which piece of cake I get,” he says sweetly.
He does, however, care about bashing the donkey pinata’s head in. He races to the tree where it is being hoisted up on a rope, frantically looking for a suitable weapon. “Not yet, Doron,” lectures an unamused adult. “You have to wait until the others have chosen to start--this isn’t something you just do without Edmund.” “OK,” he says good-naturedly, but his confidence isn’t shaken. Taking his place in line, he vows to his mom, “I’m gonna get that pinata open!” He doesn’t, but Doron rebounds, concentrating on mastering the aeronautical mysteries of a plywood-and-rubber-band catapult. “Look,” he screams, jumping up and down. “I made it work, I made it work!” Demonstrating, he sends it flying overhead--albeit backward. “As I said,” his mother says, laughing, “he’s very gifted, but not necessarily a genius.”
After decorating their bikes with balloons and crepe paper, the children take off for a ride down a sun-dappled path while the parents relax. Does Doron wonder why he doesn’t have a father? Not yet, Blake says, though she intends to explain it to him later. “Once he understands the natural way, I’ll tell him how he’s different.”
Now 45, Blake doesn’t expect Mr. Right to show up. “Most men only want a child who carries their genes, and the single-parent fathers are like me--too busy raising their kids to go looking. One man has been pursuing me, actually, but he made the mistake of treating Doron as if he were just in the way.” She hugs her son, who is flushed and happy from his excursion. “As far as I’m concerned, the red roses have to come to my son as well as to me.”
Raising a child alone is tough, she admits, and gifted kids are notoriously difficult. “They’re incredibly strong-willed and inquisitive and active--they even sleep less than normal children. Sometimes,” she says half-jokingly, “I envy these sweet, quiet, accommodating children. Except,” she adds, laughing, “they turn into sweet, quiet, accommodating adults.” Hardly the stuff that visionary poets, much less secular saviors, are made of.
WHEN SANDY Carson, just turned 4, answers the phone at her parents’ Orange County home, she’s as informative and polite as an 800 operator. Her mommy’s at the office, she says, and supplies the number there. After describing what she’s done so far this Labor Day weekend, she adds that she’s going to take a riding lesson at 4. “You can come too,” she tells the caller, “if you promise to put on some pants!”
Mary Carson, Sandy’s mother, is warm, articulate and disarmingly honest. (However, the Carsons did not want their real names used, and some of the details about them have been changed.) “I’ll admit,” Mary says, laughing, “to being guilty of sometimes claiming I don’t much care if my kids are bright, when in fact I care quite a bit.”
Mary is in her early 30s; her husband, Ted, is in his late 40s--a bachelor until they married five years ago. Her 15-year-old daughter, Cindy, is her natural child, the product of a previous marriage, but Tim, 8, her second child, was born through a sperm bank, though not the repository. Ted Carson is a physician, and his wife also works in the medical field. “When we decided to add to our family,” she explains, “we found out Ted had no sperm.” Upset with the previous sperm bank for failing to tell them ahead of time that there weren’t enough additional sperm samples from their son’s donor to try for another, they turned to the repository.
Their son is very gifted, with a tested IQ of 135. But the Carsons feel that the repository’s comprehensive screening policy for both physical and mental health improves the chances of repeating these good results. Mary also considers their situation living proof that Graham is hardly the master-racist he was once accused of being. “I’m Oriental, Ted is Anglo, and the donor we chose was an Ashkenazic Jew.” It’s the quality of Sandy’s mind, not the color of her skin, that matters to them.
Later that afternoon, Mary is home from work, but Sandy answers the door. She is tiny and high-spirited, with an olive complexion and long, silky dark-brown hair cut in bangs over slightly heavy-lidded eyes. She gives a tour through the large, storybook English Tudor home, ending on the patio, where she introduces her father, mother and brother before announcing: “I’m the baby of the family, so I oughta get the most attention!”
Sandy has attended a private preschool run by a psychiatrist since age 2 1/2, and though she’s the youngest in her rudimentary reading class, she holds her own with classmates six months to a year older.
School has been out for the summer, but it starts again tomorrow. “She’s looking forward to getting back,” Mary says. “Aren’t you, honey?” “Nope!” Sandy says. “Uh-oh,” her dad says. “Are you playing Miss Contrary?”
“It’s a game we play,” Mary Carson explains. “You ask her a question, and she tells you the opposite of the truth.” The game proceeds. “I do not got a pool! I do not got a brother! I do not like kitties!” Sandy proclaims.
While she runs upstairs to change for her riding lesson, Ted Carson--an avid student of human “breeding patterns”--launches into a discourse on the subject. Like Graham, he is concerned about what he considers to be humanity’s plummeting intellect. Like Shockley, he believes there is a correlation between race and intellect. “Most remedial students are blacks,” he claims, “then Hispanics and then whites, with by far the fewest being Japanese. But by the year 2000, there will be 50 million blacks in the U.S., whereas the white population will be smaller than it is today.” As for intelligence itself, he can’t understand why anyone would question its importance. “Intelligence is the basis of civilization,” he says, growing impassioned, “of science and art, all of humanity’s advances!”
Meanwhile, Sandy is advancing rapidly, especially in verbal and analytical skills. A recent test conducted by her school put her at a 6.8-year-old level and classified her as “very gifted.” Her parents feel sure her donor’s IQ bouthad much to do with it, though Mary’s 132 IQ is far above average.
Before leaving for the stable, Sandy’s parents relax by the pool drinking iced tea as she and her brother paint and draw. Sandy does an abstract rendering of raindrops, then a sketch of a visitor, complete with a little round nob near the crown. When asked what it is, she points out the obvious: “Her barrette!”
Her father grins and kisses her. “She really is observant,” he says. “And she has close to a photographic memory. She’d really make a good scientist.”
At the moment, though, she’s gone show biz. Taking center stage on the diving board, she does a coy, wriggling jig as she sings, “I got a cute little face and a cute litto figger / So go away, boys, till I get a little biggo!”
At 4, the family arrives at stables as picture perfect as a set of “National Velvet,” complete with a white fence, putting-green grass and languorous shade trees. Mary and the riding instructor discuss the possibility of buying a pony for Sandy.
Tim is already putting his steed through its paces when Sandy decides she doesn’t want to go riding after all. Gently, her mother tries to coax her, but Sandy shakes her head. “I’m too tired.” Instead, she lassos a puppy to a tree--releasing it at her mother’s suggestion--then heads for an inner-tube swing. Finally her mother comes up. The lesson is over; it’s time to go home. Sandy looks devastated; regretting her rash decision, she begins to cry and kick the dirt. “I wanna go widing!” she says, pouting. Minutes later, she’s back in the saddle.
On the trip home, Sandy gives a vivid recounting of last weeks’ tour of Universal Studios, including her run-in with King Kong. “Don’t let anyone tell you he’s OK,” she counsels gravely, “cause he’s not. He’s mean!”
By 7, Sandy really is tired. Wearily, she trudges up the stairs but detours in the hall outside her door and heads for the master bedroom. Scrambling onto the king-sized bed, she assumes a fetal position and pops her thumb in her mouth. In seconds, the baby of the family is asleep, resting her smart, pretty head before the first day of school.
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