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AshlynM's avatar

How to tell if your unborn children will look more like your race?

Asked by AshlynM (10569points) August 12th, 2012

I’m going to take a gamble at this and hope people don’t get offended and call me racist.

I am Korean American. My boyfriend is Indian, as in from India. What are the chances our children will look more Korean or Indian?

I’m not expecting, just something I’ve been wondering about.

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48 Answers

cookieman's avatar

I’m not sure, but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts your children will be a beautiful combination of both.

bookish1's avatar

It’s a roll of the dice, as far as I know. I’ve seen mixed-race families with children that look clearly like one parent, clearly like another, and clearly mixed. There are so many traits that added together, people associate with ‘race,’ and each one of them is determined by one or more genes, so too many variables to count!

I’m from a mixed race family and I largely have the skin color of one parent and the facial/anatomical features of another. Other mixed people often recognize me as mixed, but to the great majority of Americans I am just white. :-/

JLeslie's avatar

I’m thinking they are going to be a very beautiful combination. If he has very dark skin, they likely will be a little darker than you, but not necessarily. My husband’s father has very strong features, he has a jutting jaw, large nose, dark brown eyes. His mom has a round face, practically button nose, and hazel eyes. My husband is the perfect combination of them. He has a beautiful square jaw, medium nose, and amber brown eyes. His sister has a more angular face than her mother, but the most perfect nose you can have, and dark eyea (think Eva Langoria). My husband has the fairest skin of all the siblings.

AshlynM's avatar

I’m guessing an ultrasound wouldn’t determine this.

downtide's avatar

There’s no way to tell until they’re born, but I bet they will be beautiful.

AshlynM's avatar

I was just curious because one of my friends is Indian and his ex wife was white. Their son looks more white than Indian, he has fair skin, but has thick black hair. So it’s very interesting.

JLeslie's avatar

@AshlynM Was he very dark? Your Indian friend? Is that why you were surprised? He might have had family members who were quite fair. My SIL, the one I mentioned above has darkish skin, but her husband is very fair, and their son has more the father’s complexion, maybe just a hint darker, well he tans better than his dad, but without the sun is very fair, and their daughter has darker skin like the mom. But, remember my SIL has lighter skinned people within the family, my husband is lighter than her.

AshlynM's avatar

@JLeslie The Indian friend has lighter skin than my boyfriend. I was just surprised their son had completely white skin.

FutureMemory's avatar

@AshlynM An ultrasound won’t tell you what color the skin will be. Think of it as an x-ray.

gailcalled's avatar

It is a genetic crap shoot where nothing is either likely or unlikely.

My two children were clones of their father in terms of their features and his father in terms of build and body type. Luckily, they got my brain.

But they are clearly siblings; that I am the mom is not so clear.

JLeslie's avatar

@AshlynM I assume lighter skin is a recessive trait, although skin color probably is not simple like some dominant and recessive explanations, since skin can come in so many shades, I assume there is a blending. I don’t know enough about genetics to know how skin color works. But, take red hair for instance, a recessive trait. If two brown haired parents both have red recessive, they could easily had a red headed child, even though looking at the parents one would have no clue their child would wind up red headed. So, if a person with dark skin is actually a mix of shades in generations back, it will play out in a variety of ways in the children. I have friends who have siblings with very very different coloring from themselves. Sometimes very different than their parents. It probably happens more in the Americas I’m thinking? Well, guessing, since we are such a mish mosh on this content(s). Although, now many many countries have a lot of immigration so the genetic material is gettng more and more moved around and mixed.

bookish1's avatar

@AshlynM: That is what happened to me too, and my father is very dark. White people are always surprised when they hear me say I am half Indian. But ethnicity/race is not just a matter of skin color, obviously…

@JLeslie: I think I heard somewhere that skin pigmentation is determined by at least 12 genes. At any rate, it’s not just one!

janbb's avatar

No way to tell. My great-niece is half Korean and half Askenazi Jew and she looks Korean but there was no way to know ahead of time.

Pandora's avatar

@AshlynM as @gailcalled called it, its a genetic crap shoot. Way too many generations come into play. I think the purer blood line is more likely to rule. But dominant features tend to win out.
Examples would be. Brunette over blond, dark skin over light, wide jaw over small jaw. But in your case, I would think the only features you wouldn’t already share with your husband if facial shape and your eyes shape and skin color.
My mom and dad where the same race and yet different coloring. Out of 5 kids, 3 came out quite tan and the other two were very white even though my mother was olive skin color. But on both sides of the family we had white to tan color skin. One of us was born with black hair, two with dark brown and one with brown and the other with brown and some red highlights and a little blond. He was born blond with and green eyes that turned to brown hair and brown eyes as he grew.
We all share some resemblance to each other but if you look at my sister and I we are night and day. Even though she shares the most physical resemblance to my mother, most people can link her to me faster than my sister in looks. Expressions has a lot to do with the end product.
My daughter and I don’t look much alike and yet people think we look like sisters when we smile and talk.

gailcalled's avatar

@Pandora: My kids inherited their tawny cat’s eyes and phenomenal long dark curly eyelashes from their day. One was brunette, one very blond until adolescence.

My son had my hairline, my daughter…her dad’s.

creative1's avatar

Its hard to say what each will inherit, you may have children that end up looking more like one than the other however you could end up with children that have a nice mix of both. I have see all sorts.. even when you are talking about the same race, both my parents had brown eyes and my father had dark brown hair and my mother had light brown hair yet my bother had blond hair blue eyes because both my grandmothers had blonde hair and blue eyes.

zenvelo's avatar

And on top of all the waiting until the child is born, he or she will look different when they are older. Hair color will lighten or darken, skin color may lighten or darken, hair gets curlier or straighter.

JLeslie's avatar

@AshlynM Does it matter to you if your children don’t look much like your race? I would be thrilled if my kids wound up with my husband’s black wavy thick hair and darker skin. I think I would stare at that kid in wonderment he/she came out of me. In my family we all complain about our thin hair and easily burned extremely fair skin. I have a girlfriend who has an unbelieveable body, larger than average breasts, and her mom is almost completely flat. Her mom told me once that when her daughter began to go through puberty she just couldn’t believe how she developed.

No judgement, I think it is probably natural to want children to resemble our families in one way or another. To see ourseves in our children. Of course how someone looks is not the only way to see ourseves in children, it will alsobe seen in gestures, attitudes, personality, etc.

AshlynM's avatar

@JLeslie No, I honestly don’t care either way…but the one thing I can probably count on is black hair.

Judi's avatar

I know that there are some traits that dominant, but I’m not sure which they would be in your case. For instance, if one of you had green eyes and the other had brown, the chances would be higher than 50% that the kids would have brown eyes. Then again, I would guess that both of you probably have brown eyes now.

wundayatta's avatar

Why did you frame this racially instead of as an issue of what happens when two people make a child? It seems like you are actually more interested in what the children might look like, as individuals, then what race people might assign to them if they see them.

Race really means nothing scientific. It is a purely social invention. What anyone might identify your children as—well, it’ll be all over the place. There will be lots of different opinions, depending on who is doing the looking. It won’t have much to do with the way the kids look.

If you’re in America, probably few people can identify you as Korean. People might think you’re Chinese or Japanese or even some other type of Asian. When you mix your looks with those of a darker-skinned South Asian, there is really no telling what people will think. Do you even care? What do you want to see? Are you wondering if you will recognize your kids? What are you really asking?

Kayak8's avatar

Genetics is a crap shoot (just google “biracial twins” and you will see several excellent examples). Dark hair and dark eyes will dominate (statistically speaking) but not in every child. If you had a red-headed ancestor, you could conceivably give birth to a red-headed kiddo. With both of you having dark hair and dark eyes, that is the most likely combination, but if you had 19 kids, you would likely see quite a bit of variation. I don’t think the “Duggar Experiment” is worth it though . . .

Nullo's avatar

If you sit down with a geneticist you can hammer out some probabilities, but nothing definite. I suppose that eventually we might be able to get useful feature information out of one’s DNA.

@wundayatta Race is certainly more than a social convention. It’s a group of common phenotypical expressions. Caucasians have a generally Caucasian look to them, Slavs have a generally Slavic look to them, Asians tend to look Asian, and so on. That’s what happens when you isolate populations. That’s why my grandfather looks Italian.
Now, there are behavioral/aptitudinal stereotypes. Those are largely social constructs.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, nobody can know what their baby will look like before they’re born. Not even two people of the same race can know, because who knows what crazy genes they’re carrying! But I agree..they’ll be beautiful. So often babies of two different races are…and I wonder why that is.

cookieman's avatar

@Dutchess_III: Because the results are often unexpected, I suspect.

I personally love the idea that the increase in mixed-race births will result in new generations of unique looking individuals possibly free from race-based expectations and prejudices based solely on how they look.

wundayatta's avatar

Sorry, @Nullo, but you can not define race in a way that allows people to identify it with clarity and consistency. Race is something you know when you see it. There is no identifiable genetic component to race. It is entirely aesthetic, and as such, is a social construct.

Nullo's avatar

@wundayatta So you’re saying that Morgan Freeman and myself look alike? I recommend seeing an anthropologist, or perhaps a forensic scientist, if you want the terminology.
No, there’s no “Caucasian gene,” but there are genes that express themselves consistently, especially when you keep them together in a bunch. That’s what races are: clusters of phenotypes. That’s the driving force behind reproductive selection.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think there is probably a genetic component to race. Anthropologists and forensic scientists can tell a person’s race just by their skeletons. Too tired to look it up now though.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

First: There is no such thing as race. We are all the same species: Homo sapiens.
Second: Yes, we use the term ‘race’ to describe different physical characteristics common to general regions on Earth. These characteristics have come about due to evolution in different climates and, at the time, being limited to travel.
Third: Someone’s nationality is not a factor of what is referred to as ‘race’. My former college roommate is Jamaican. What race would you assume that she is?

@AshlynM As several people have already stated, an ultrasound won’t provide you this type of information, at least at this point. It would probably take a sample of the baby’s genetics to give you an idea, and it’s just not worth it, both in cost and outcome.

If you really want the answer to skin and hair color chances, here is an article that can shed some light on the subject.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I would think if the OP says her boyfriend is Indian and the question is about race, that he looks like an Indian man indegenious to the country, or somewhat fits with how we stereotype Indians. Jamaica I would never assume a race. One family I know from Jamaica were Chinese. Another man half black-African quarter Scottish quarter English. He basically looked how we would describe here a light-skinned blackman. All the islands are a big mix. My Cuban cousin by marriage has English royal blood on one side. The Americas are a melting pot, but many other parts of the world not so much. Japan is probably over 90% Japanese. Iceland is probably over 90% Viking. Some countries the generalization of race is warranted, or legitimate maybe is a better word, as long as we can agree to use the term race loosely. Hell, we use African American to decribe black people in America on our government forms, that to me has some of the very same problems you describe. Most of the recent African immigrants to America I know are caucasian.

My only point is, I think we all know more or less the basic features the OP’s boyfriend possesses. When I talk about my husband’s looks, I describe them, I don’t just say he is Mexican, because I know he doesn’t quite fit with the American assumption of what a Mexican looks like.

I don’t understand why people seem to be offended by using the term race. I do think using the term race can be ambiguous, so that is a problem, there I agree.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I would assume your Jamaican room mate was African, descended from slaves. Was she?

zenvelo's avatar

What’s curious is we are all holding in our mind’s eye what the Indian father must be like. I work with a whole bunch of Indian developers, and they cover a panoply of colors and characteristics; about the only thing in common is hair color (but not hair texture.)

And when one tries to pigeon hole an Indian into one of the three “traditional races” (what I was taught in Middle School geography), they are not “Negroid”, “Caucasoid”, or “Mongoloid”.

I bet it’s a beautiful baby!

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo Technically you are right in regards to your middle school education. But, race is used commonly to describe more than those three, but it is riddled with some problems and bad assumptions. It isn’t perfect, but overall understood I think. The term Asian, when people started using it over using oriental I was confused, because to me Indians are Asians, from the continent of Asia.

AshlynM's avatar

@wundayatta Yes, I’m interested in knowing if my children will look more like me or my bf in terms of skin tone and hair texture. While that may appear to make me a shallow or naive person and make you believe that I only care about looks, to me, it’s a legit question. I’ll love them no matter what they look like. “What happens when two people make a child?” probably would’ve been a better way of phrasing the question. Sometimes I’m not sure exactly how to phrase a question without offending someone.

bookish1's avatar

This thread is a trip. ‘Traditional races’? I’d love to see one of those geography books…

Sunny2's avatar

One of the surprises of having children is how they look and it’s constantly changing as they grow. It’s unpredictable, as everyone says. Being of different races simply adds more traits that are available to the new being with whom you will be living. Rejoice and enjoy.

JLeslie's avatar

@bookish1 They were the three great races, but it is an impractical description in my opinion. People who have written about such things usually further divide the races into more subgroups, and the three great race notion I believe was first written about a long time ago, I think it was either a German author or English? Can’t remember. Anyway, it was more geographical at the time it was first discussed, but now obviously people have moved around a lot. I don’t know what schools teach now? I wonder.

Do you dislike the term race? You haven’t been a jelly very long, there have been long threads discussing race in the past. A lot of people hate the term, or the idea of grouping people by race? I am ok with the term, but I think it is often used in a way that does not really describe a person. My husband and I are both caucasian, but his features are very different than mine, he is from a completely different part of the world. Some people might consider him a different race than me. Genetically, I think there are some differences in that he is more prone to certain genetic diseases, and my group is prone to others. When I describe him I would say he is mediterranean coloring, similar to Greek, because I think Americans have a picture of Greeks similar to him, wavy black hair, olive skin, amber brown eyes. I would say I am eastern European, very fair, blue eyes, brown hair.

_Whitetigress's avatar

“What are the chances our children will look more Korean or Indian?”

50/50 to each. Your baby would be extremely cute that’s all I know!

In most cases dominant genes paired up with recessive genes will show in the child. In other cases two recessive genes pair up. Just remember recessive and dominant is not bad or good it just exists.


Nullo's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer The thing is that race =/= species. Never has. Rather, race is a subset of species, analogous to breeds in other species. Every dog owner has a Canis lupus familiaris, but there’s a world of difference between a pug and a Newfoundland.

@bookish1 They just might still have the old British Empire in ‘em! XD

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Nullo Yeah, I know that species does not equal race. Nor does nationality equal race.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@JLeslie Trust me…I completely understand where you and the others are coming from. Descriptors can be helpful, to a degree. Most of the time though, I just don’t see the point, at least when it comes to race.

@Dutchess_III As for the roommate from Jamaica, she and her two younger siblings were born there, but they are blond hair, blue eyed, and pale skin, just like their parents.

JLeslie's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I think we agree over all. I think the argument is really that sometimes nationality does explain race, and sometimes it doesn’t, but some people use it to describe race when it is simply wrong. Like people using Hispanic as a substitute for race, just not accurate enough, but I guess there is an assumption in America of what Hispanic looks like to enough people that we know what they are talking about. Hispanic definitely isn’t a race though. But, Asian, well we use that term to mean east Asia and it equals both the race and the part of the world. A black person living in Asia, would not likely say they are Asian, they would say they are black and a Japanese citizen, or whatever country. I recently told someone a lot of the families on board with children on my cruise were Asian, but I don’t know if they were Canadian, American, or from Asia.

bookish1's avatar

@JLeslie: I am not sure if I should go on this tangent because this is in General, but no, I do not dislike the word race. I do not call the PC Police when people use the word race. I use it myself. I’ve thought about it enormously, inside the classroom and in the real world. I do, however, often find it frustrating to discuss the word and its social realities with white people who don’t have to think about it on a daily basis.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@AshlynM I don’t perceive your curiosity about what your children would look like as being shallow at all. What parent doesn’t? The thing is, there is no telling without genetics testing done.

There were two guys, fraternal twins, that attended the same high school. While their facial features made it clear that they were brothers, the similarities ended there. One was small, pale-skinned, with blond hair and blue eyes. His brother was big boned, darker skin, dark hair and brown eyes. I’m sure that they had to endure a lot of teasing throughout the years. It’s just a roll of the genetic dice.

@JLeslie I think we are pretty much in agreement on this as well. It just irritates me when people use race as a descriptive when it isn’t necessary. And as you point out, it isn’t always correct.

wundayatta's avatar

@AshlynM I think it’s a fine question. But it isn’t a question about race. It’s a question about you and your husband. You framed this question about race, but then it didn’t seem to be about race at all. So I was just trying to make sure I wasn’t missing something.

kcampbell's avatar

It’s impossible to tell.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think it’s a perfectly harmless question.

isobel's avatar

I would say you will never know for sure until it is born and even then features change through the years. the wonderful thing is that parents love their children no matter what they look like. I have a bi-racial child and whether she looked one way or the other never was a concern. Don’t obsess about it. (It is just like a child of one race – you just will never know what to expect and that’s part of the unconditional love you give them.)

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