All His Children - Magazine - The Atlantic
The Internet was not a concern when California Cryobank was founded, in 1977, but it figures heavily into the business model today. Aspiring mothers can fill out an online search form (for, say, a Catholic donor with blond hair and blue eyes) and instantly receive a list of options. For anonymity’s sake, no photos of the donors as adults are included; instead, each profile is footnoted with links to images of celebrities that the donor most resembles—a feature the bank says has been extremely popular. I did a quick search for brown-haired Caucasian donors, which gave me a list of men who, Cryobank assured me, resembled Justin Timberlake, James Franco, or Steve Carell.
As Django Djournal and the chat rooms demonstrate, though, the Internet also enables networking between mothers who share a donor. And as the donor children grow up, they too are likely to connect with one another online. Cryobank aims to make 25 to 30 women pregnant from each donor’s sperm, though it says the number is usually closer to 12 or 15. Some of those women will have more than one child using the sperm. And once women purchase their vials of a donor’s sperm—which they do up front, to guarantee the product won’t run out—they can do what they wish with any excess, even creating a secondary market for vials of unused sperm. I found at least one woman, unaffiliated with Cryobank, who expressed interest in purchasing another woman’s leftover vials of Raul’s sperm so she could conceive her own baby. The sperm of a popular donor like Raul could easily produce several dozen children.
One mother who’d been compiling a list of the half-siblings of her own baby by Raul’s sperm wrote on Cryobank’s bulletin board that she had already found 22 “success stories” by networking online. When I e-mailed her, she replied, “I am not comfortable disclosing the exact number of siblings, but I will say there are more than I had initially hoped.”