Another 23andMe post!
One of the more interesting things about producing children who are biologically yours is that you get to see the combining of your genome with somebody else's, the tug-of-war for dominance and co-dominance that provides you, a brown-eyed, brown-haired mother, with two blue-eyed dark-blonde girls. They have similar coloring thus far, those girls, but look to my eye pretty different otherwise. Sophia looks like Sean from the nose up, and maybe a little of me in the smile (final shape of nose TBD), with curly dark blonde hair like her grandmother and like my little sister. Blue eyes like everyone in Sean's family, and my sisters. Skin like skim milk, and that's definitely the Eastern European side. Daphne's eyes are sort of mid-blue, hair a light brown, but the shape of her features are 100% me and my own mother. Her skin looks darker than Sophia's, so maybe she'll tan brown as a berry, as they used to say of me. (And yes, I check my moles regularly now.)
And that's just the surface rendering, the phenotype, the tiny percentage of the genome that shows up to the naked eye. Did Sophia get my tendency toward Type II diabetes? Is Daphne going to be resistant to norovirus? So far Sophia has had one obvious case of rotavirus and one other stomach bug -- that's all, in her whole life! -- so maybe she's got that resistance. Are they, like me, free of the BRCA mutations (the ones that 23andMe tests for) that suggest a greater risk of breast and ovarian cancer?
I don't know, of course. And I don't have any plans to find out. Granted, it would be hard to get a three-year-old to comply with the whole spitting-in-a-cup procedure, but even if a mere eyelash was all that was required, I wouldn't sign them up for genetic analysis.
At first I felt differently. There's no harm in it, obviously, and I don't have to share that information with them until they're ready. And more importantly, genetics aren't destiny. All those things are still true -- but I want to save this choice for them, when they get older. If they want to learn about their genome beyond what I can tell them and what they experience, that's great. But it needs to be their choice. As a mother I know my daughters intimately in some ways, and not at all in others; this will be something they decide for themselves, whether and how and when to open that box.
Of course, I've already gone over my own results with my parents -- prompting my mother to do some genealogical research that unearthed a Mayflower family -- and clearly I don't mind sharing the juicy bits with The Whole Wide Internet. But again, it's all been my choice. I'm glad I got to make it for myself.