"The Entrepreneur" Speaks
A donor tells why he gave the Repository for Germinal Choice his Grade A sperm.
So how often did you give?
I would do it maybe five times a year, and one donation would have perhaps 20 vials. He would complain vigorously about that. He would say, "Look, you are a little bit more popular than the others. Help us out." He was trying to meet the mothers' demand. I went on giving almost up to the time of his death in 1997.
Did he ever introduce you to any of the other donors? Or mothers?
I got to see him quite a bit socially at his house, and he was always cagey about it. He would intimate that other donors would be in attendance. But he was always very careful about it. He would describe the physicists and the symphony conductor. It was a game he would play.
But he was precise that the mothers never had any contact with the donors in any way, shape, or form. I never saw anybody. And he made it very clear to them that they waived in perpetuity the right to come back and sue for the names of his donors.
From what you've been saying, it sounds like Graham was obsessed with the repository.
He was extremely warm, almost emotional about it. He was absolutely focused on it. He was always trying to get me to recruit other people. He was a missionary. He had that kind of unbridled enthusiasm. He endured all criticism, the armed guards at his estate. It did not deter him at all. But I never could really understand why he was so fixated on this idea of breeding—especially because he had such an average mix of kids himself.
Did he see the repository as a science experiment?
Absolutely, and he wanted to find out what happened. He was very disappointed that a lot of people had kids and would not contact him. Parents were disassociating from it. That bothered him. He was very scientific person and he wanted to have the feedback. But he did have one heckuva collection of photos.
And he absolutely thought it was a success. He would point to the whole wall of baby photos. He was adamant that he had proved the point, would rattle off all matter of statistics on the children in their initial testing. He was very into that.
Did you ever find out how many kids your sperm had produced?
David Plotz is the Editor of Slate. He's the author of The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank and Good Book. He appears on Slate's Political Gabfest.