"A La Fabrique des Peres sur Catalogue" Marie Claire, France. (Click here for the pdf.)

Mail order babies in California, for Marie Claire, France

Looking over the shoulder of one woman who has opened an account at CCB to check out the dossiers of around four hundred donors. Nº 12873 for example, whose profile, drafted by the bank, resembles Michael Fassbinder and Viggo Mortensen, 1.75, attractive.... and intelligent. Nº 12867 is described as a hunky good looking guy who works in international development. He looks like Keanu Reeves and John Cusack. In the space of a minute, you can imagine we have found the perfect match. But listen to his voice... too high pitched, we abandon him for nº 13108.

Dizzying. This consultation, just like shopping online, is the trigger for the birth of a baby. Access to the colour of his hair and eyes, hight, weight and personality of the donor is free. For $145 we can see photos of him as a child, know his hobbies, his take on life and his medical history. For $250 we can discover the sound of his voice, his facial characteristics, (how wide apart are his eyes, the breadth of his forehead, the size of his nose, the shape of his chin....), and the results of psychological tests, is he extrovert, reserved, etc.?
“Choosing a donor online is like looking for a guy on a dating site,” confirms Kim, a New Yorker, who’s beginning her quest. “There’s a moment when you know you have found the right one. Would you make a child with someone who didn’t please you?”

“I was 42 years old and I was with a man who didn’t want kids. Today, my daughter is 4 years old,” explains Pamela, 46, a psychiatrist from Berkley, California, who went through IVF. “My only regret is that I didn’t do it earlier.”
After selecting a donor, consulting a genetic councillor, and having two fertility treatments and embryo implants, Pamela spent €20,000 before becoming pregnant - a cost which can, depending on the number of IVF treatments, climb to €50,000.

According to a 2010 study between 30,000 and 60,000 children have been conceived in America by artificial insemination. The figure is unverifiable because the fertility industry doesn’t file reports with the US health authorities and the American market is unregulated. But the financial statements of the sperm banks - the market leader California Cryobank (CBB) declared profits of 18 million euros in 2011 - and the proliferation of sites and forums on the web attest to the emergence of a real phenomenon. It’s not only infertile couples or lesbians who choose their donors on the sperm banks’ sites’, these days, one third of the clientele are single heterosexual women.