What parents don't want beautiful and smart kids - but in the genetic roll of the dice, can one stack the odds in your favor? Here are some ways to get yourself a "designer baby":
Sperm and Egg Bank for Beautiful People
BeautifulPeople, which as its name clearly states, is a dating site devoted exclusively to good lookin' people. The company's latest venture is to create a "virtual sperm and egg bank" (in reality a fertility introduction service) stocked with donors from the beauty gene pool. Best of all, it's open to ugly folks who want to better their hereditary lines:
"Initially, we hesitated to widen the offering to non-beautiful people. But everyone -- including ugly people -- would like to bring good looking children in to the world, and we can't be selfish with our attractive gene pool," company founder Robert Hintze said in a statement." (Source)
What about a specific-kind of beauty? If you want a blond, blue-eyed Nordic beauty, there's a sperm bank for you. Cryos International Sperm Bank in Denmark exports sperms to 60 countries around the world. Its motto? "Congratulations, it's a Viking."
The Celebrity Look-A-Like Sperm Bank
Handsome is good, but what if you want your son to be celebrity-handsome. Say, like Beckham? Don't worry, there's California Cryobank:
Celebrity worship, it seems, has gone in utero. No longer is it enough to name your baby after your favorite star. With the help of the California Cryobank fertility clinic in Los Angeles, your child might actually look like that star.
"It can be the shape of the eyes, the nose, the mouth, any specific feature," said Scott Brown, director of communications at California Cryobank. "It can be the shape of the head. It can be the complexion. It can even be the hairstyle because you're talking about [what] someone looks like. That's what we're going for." (Source)
The Nobel Prize Sperm Bank
What if you prefer genius to beauty? In 1980, millionaire optometrist Robert Clark Graham (he invented "impact resistant" plastic eyeglasses - image from DamnInteresting) opened a sperm bank stocked with "donations" from the world's smartest men.
The Repository for Germinal Choice, located in an underground bunker in San Diego, aimed to collect sperms from Nobel Laureates, which earned it the nickname "Nobel Prize Sperm Bank".
In reality, it only managed to collect sperm from one Nobel Laureate, physicist William Shockley (who probably did more damage to Graham's effort to enlist more Nobel Laureates, as he believed the genetic superiority of whites over blacks and proposed sterilizations of imbeciles to improve the average intelligence in society). Graham concentrated his search for scientist donors instead.
Needless to say, Graham's sperm bank was controversial:
When the Los Angeles Times publicized the repository in 1980, a furor erupted. Eugenic ideas like Graham's had been mainstream in the United States for the first half of the 20th century. (Graham had even borrowed the idea of a Nobel sperm bank from a scheme proposed by respected Nobelist Hermann Muller in the '30s.) But by the time Graham opened the repository, eugenics had been utterly tarnished by Nazism. It was considered at best elitist, at worst racist and genocidal.
Graham was pilloried and mocked, accused of trying to create a "master race." Critics dubbed it the "Superbaby" program and compared it to Nazi eugenics practices. Ethicists denounced it as a cold, utilitarian approach toward children and an alarming step toward "designer babies." Only one of Graham's Nobel donors, transistor inventor William Shockley, would admit to having contributed sperm. That did not help matters. Shockley's views on race, genes, and intelligence had made him a national pariah, and his association with the repository confirmed suspicion that it was a dastardly racist plot. Demonstrators picketed Graham's Escondido estate. He hired security guards to protect the sperm. (Source)
When the Repository for Germinal Choice closed after Graham's death 1999, there were 229 babies none of which was fathered by Nobel Prize winners. So far, none of these kids had grown up to win the Nobel Prize either.
David Plotz of Slate has a series of fantastic articles about the story of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank: Link
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