“Can We Bleach Luke’s Hair Out?”

Luke at 12 weeks

Luke at 12 weeks

Patrick at 18 months

Patrick at 18 months

When I was pregnant with my newborn son Luke, now 12 weeks old, I broke the news to my sperm-donor-conceived son Patrick, age five, that the two of them may not look alike.

I explained that while his donor and I have blonde hair, blue eyes and pale skin, his adoptive Dad provided the sperm that made Luke, and his baby brother may have his Dad’s brown hair, brown eyes and darker skin. He understood, for his two brothers, ages 14 and 16, my husband’s biological children from his first marriage, have brown hair and brown eyes. But he said he wanted Luke to look not like Dad and his older brothers, but like him.

Luke, almost three months old, has brown hair, for sure. While Patrick was born with reddish-brown hair that fell out, with white-blonde hair replacing it, Luke’s hair, ultra-dark-brown at birth, has become light brown, but still brown.

Luke’s skin has a medium tone, while Patrick’s and my skin is so pale, it’s translucent, although both of us are able to tan.

And while Luke’s permanent eye color is yet to be determined, it will be some shade of brown. Patrick’s are absolutely blue.

So Patrick and Luke could not be more different as far as coloring. But my four brothers and I, all of whom have the same biological parents, have differing skin tones and hair colors, although all of us have blue eyes. My mother and uncle, who also share biological parents, are a pale-skinned brunette and a freckled redhead. Bottom line: Genetics don’t dictate that even full siblings resemble each other.

While I was a real blonde in my younger years, as I near age 42 my blonde is primarily artificial. But having a high-risk pregnancy and then a newborn, I’ve let myself go in a myriad of ways, and sadly I’d gotten used to the new, unkempt me—until last weekend, when my husband, sons and I were running errands, and I caught sight of myself in a full-length mirror as we walked to the back of a men’s clothing store: I noticed, for the first time, that I had a brown stripe down the middle of my head, along my hair’s part line.

Spurred to fix my reverse-skunk look, I made an appointment to have my hair cut and highlighted this afternoon. As my stylist asked me if I’d like highlights and lowlights, or if I’d rather just add blonde, I told her that all I want is to have Patrick’s white-blonde hair. Sitting in a chair across from us, playing games on my iPhone®, he grinned. His hair color is stunning, so he gets a lot of attention for it, including ample women proclaiming how much they’d absolutely die to have his hair.

Today Patrick got a haircut too, and as we talked in bed tonight, I told him that his hair looked handsome, then asked if he liked mine.


“I look better blonde,” I said.

Patrick immediately asked, “Can we bleach Luke’s hair out?”

“No, sweetie.”

He was quiet for a moment, then said, “Well, maybe when he’s older.”

Before I could intervene, he continued, “And his eyes…”

When he abruptly stopped, then remained silent, I asked, “What were you going to say about Luke’s eyes?”

“Well, we don’t know the color yet,” he stated. “But they’re dark. They look black. I was thinking we could change the color.”

Patrick was overtired tonight. We had a busy day, with dual eye appointments, dual hair appointments and a relative’s birthday dinner at a restaurant, at which he hit his Dad in anger. So tonight was not the night in which to explain anything, including that his baby brother looks perfect just the way he is, with his light-brown hair, dark eyes and dark skin.

And I need a night to think about how to explain that Luke is perfect just the way he is, yet I look better blonde.

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