Evan Eisenberg's why-do-we-adopt? dilemma ["The Adoption Paradox," January] stems, in my view, from the erroneous bias toward the importance of the individual that has penetrated Darwinian logic. Most individuals perish in the first moments of life just count the acorns on an oak or the eggs of a sponge and it is not bad genes as much as bad luck that causes their demise. Further, most animal parents are not aware of, let alone worried about, their genes; they are just obeying an instinct to care for the young. It may sound cruel, but it matters not which individuals of a species survive, just that enough of them do.
Russell W. Agreen
Mr. Eisenberg states that "if women bonded with their infants during pregnancy or at birth, they might grieve for months or years [for stillborn infants]." He goes on to suggest that "instead, women become attached to their babies gradually, over the course of months." These opinions are not only misguided but also insupportable in the realms of science and psychology. As a father of three children, I can attest to the intensity of the mother-child bonds that existed from the moment of the pregnancy test. As a practicing physician who has participated in deliveries, I would be remiss in not correcting Mr. Eisenberg's foray into liberal social indoctrination. Mother-infant bonding is a force of nature that begins for many women at the first notification of pregnancy. For others, it manifests with the first sign of quickening or the observance of a heartbeat. For all others, excluding mothers who suffer from postpartum depression, the bond is complete upon the delivery of the child.
Thomas M. Mextorf, D.O.
Evan Eisenberg responds: Of course some women fall in love with their infants at first sight or even sooner. But studies show that many do not, and that for nearly all mothers the bond grows stronger with time. This is why, in cultures where abandonment or infanticide is practiced, the deed is usually done as soon as possible after birth, before the mother's feelings make it impossible. The unintended consequence of Dr. Mextorf's view is that women who do not instantly fall in love with the wrinkled, squalling creatures they are presented with are made to feel unnatural, even monstrous. Fortunately, the better pregnancy and child-care books nowadays take care to reassure such women that their motherly feelings will blossom with time.
Lifting the Curse
"The Curse of the Garcias" [Vital Signs, December] tells readers about the rare medical condition androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS). Unfortunately, the one person author Dr. Robert Marion chose not to so educate was his own patient. While Dr. Marion may think he was protecting her by withholding information, he instead placed her at risk of discovering it on her own without appropriate support or counseling. I know how devastating such a discovery can be I, too, have AIS. And I, too, did not learn about my condition from my physician; I uncovered the truth in a public medical library. Dr. Marion's approach doesn't ensure that his patient won't make a similar discovery. In any event, it denies her the right to make informed choices about her medical care.
Sherri A. Groveman
Founder, AIS Support Group USA
San Diego, California
A Fine Line
In "The Nasca Lines Solution" [December], Jack McClintock comments that my "method of locating sources of underground water was haphazard at best." The article gives the impression that I simply walked around Nasca dowsing and suddenly came up with this startling revelation. In fact, I spent five months examining the geology, hydrology, and archaeology of the region. I shared my data with local and international scientists working in the area. We compared our data while examining faults, water tables, and archaeological sites using a variety of techniques, not just dowsing. I located six wells based on my hypothesis, all of which produced a reliable year-round water source and still function today. If my research had not attracted the interest of scientists, I doubt I would be an adjunct research associate at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst today.
Poughkeepsie, New York