Afton Blake is a clinical psychologist who is about to give birth to the second baby conceived with sperm from the Repository for Germinal Choice, the Nobel sperm bank. She said she decided to try the bank "through a process of elimination." Other sperm banks she tried would not tell her much about the donor.
Blake, 40, enjoys an apparently prosperous practice with two offices and a home and pool atop one of Los Angeles' most beautiful hills. She said she had thought of having a baby for years and one relationship had resulted in a pregnancy, but she miscarried. Without any immediate prospects or desire to marry, she decided to "leave the door open [for a future husband] to come in and adopt a child" she had already produced.
That violated the repository's rule of married couples only, so she arranged a marriage of convenience with a friend, but Paul Smith, a research officer for the bank, delivered the sperm early and she decided she did not have to go through with the ceremony. Smith says, without much anger, that she deceived him and the repository's marriage rule still holds.
Blake said she first tried sperm from one of the bank's three Nobel donors, delivered to her in a 2-inch by 1/8-inch tube. The sperm proved to be inactive and she switched to a mathematician of northern European Jewish descent who was among the repository's three most popular donors. When the fetus miscarried, she switched again.
An amniocentesis test in which amniotic fluid is checked for possible signs of deformity in the fetus showed that she is carrying a healthy boy, whom she tentatively plans naming Doron (Greek for "gift") William Blake.
Her Jewish patients were "deeply distressed" to hear she had participated in a scheme that struck them as similar to Nazi experiments in creating a master race. "I was greatly distressed that they were distressed," she said. "I had to think about why I did it, which I didn't have to do before."
She said she plans to spend a lot of time with her baby in her pool and expose him to her classical music collection, since swimming and music are important to her.
But she does not plan to force his education. "I have my values," she said, "but I'm not going to push them on him. If he wants to be a baseball player, well, I've never been to a baseball game, but if that's what he wants to do, I'll go with him."
She wanted a boy in the first place, she said, because "if I'm going to remain single, I'd like the male energy in my life."
"I'm not trying for a genius," she said.