An Update and a Preview

Exploring the "Nobel Prize sperm bank."
Feb. 23 2001 3:00 AM

An Update and a Preview

Click  hereto read the introduction to the "Seed" project. Today's other installment, a history of how the Nobel sperm bank really worked, is here.

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Slate has now heard from about half-a-dozen parents and half-a-dozen donors from the Repository for Germinal Choice. The reasons parents and donors have for contacting Slate are radically different. The donors want to discuss and evangelize the theory of the project. They want to explain why Graham created a genius sperm bank and speculate about how the repository connects to contemporary eugenic efforts such as cloning. They aren't much interested in finding their offspring. (For a sample of donor thinking, read this interview with "The Entrepreneur.")

David Plotz David Plotz
David Plotz is Slate's deputy editor. If you are interested in sharing any information about the Repository for Germinal Choice, send it toplotzd@slate.com

The mothers are largely indifferent to the theory. They are pleased that their kids are turning out OK, but that's not what concerns them. Rather, they view Seed as an opportunity to find their donors and related kids. Several mothers are seeking half-siblings of their children. (There is an interesting and vigorous discussion of this in "The Fray," where two anonymous moms are trading bits of information. Click here to see the beginning.) Other moms are searching for their donors so that their kids can meet their "dads."

All these mothers see Slate as a kind of swap meet. They will be able to find each other, with Slate acting as the intermediary. This is a wonderful aspect of Web interactivity that did not occur to us when we started the Seed project: By offering to tell stories from the repository, we have become the clearinghouse for mothers. We can assure their privacy while helping them to connect. It makes a better story for us, and it helps them. (For example, I am in touch with a mother who used donor Fuchsia. I know of another family that also used Fuchsia. If they want to get in touch, they can tell me, and I can introduce them.)

In the next week, I will write about some of these maternal quests, particularly a poignant story of a mother who used to correspond anonymously with her donor. The repository forwarded their mail, deleting any identifying information. The donor wanted to meet his daughter. And the mother wanted her daughter to meet the donor. But in 1997, the repository stopped forwarding their letters, and they have lost each other. She hopes that the donor will see her story and try to find her through Slate.

Parents, kids, and donors from the Repository for Germinal Choice: If you want to find half-siblings, genetic fathers, or genetic children, Slate would love to tell your story. All contacts will be treated confidentially. Please e-mail me at plotzd@slate.com, or call me at (202) 862-4889.  

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