Another approach to a three parent baby is the use of one man’s sperm, one woman’s egg, and a second woman’s uterus. This approach uses in vitro fertilisation and embryo implantation. Infertile couples sometimes use this approach to baby-making, but an increasing number of single men and single women are taking advantage of overseas companies that provide this service.
Here is an example of one single man who traveled to India to make his baby, a la carte:
Morrison’s journey to fatherhood began in November 2009, when he travelled to Mumbai to donate sperm and, with the help of a photo, brief bio and medical and family history, choose an Indian egg donor and a surrogate.
The first few attempts at in vitro fertilization failed. Then one pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.
Morrison had second thoughts.
In 2010, he went to India again. He donated more sperm, chose a new surrogate and a new egg donor — a pretty, calm-faced woman with features he hoped would be a good match with his own.
On the sixth attempt at in vitro, the surrogate became pregnant.
And now there is Orion… “I’ve been waiting for this for three years,” Morrison says, cradling the baby in his arms. “I feel like I’ve known him forever.” He looks down and grins at his son.
Morrison’s parents, Lorna and Paul, travelled with him to Mumbai to help care for Orion in the early days while Morrison files the paperwork needed to bring the baby home, a process that can take three weeks.
“The first few days were rough,” Morrison admits, with Orion waking every few hours and Morrison so excited he couldn’t sleep or eat at all. But the baby is eating well — formula, from a bottle — and sleeping four to six hours at a time.
“For only 9 days old, he’s got so much character and strength, too. He gives me head butts,” Morrison laughs.
… At Yashoda Infertility & Healthcare Services in Mumbai, where Orion was born, Dr. Meenakshi Puranik has served three single women, more than 100 single men and about 2,100 couples since opening seven years ago — so single men account for about 4 per cent of Puranik’s clientele and single women make up just 0.1 per cent.
Science is approaching the day where human eggs can be prepared in the lab from the genetic and cellular material of one or more women, inseminated in vitro, and the resulting embryo implanted into an artificial womb — where it would grow to term in an “optimal and realistic” environment. How could we build an artificial womb?
We’re still several decades away, but the two primary areas that need to be developed include biotechnology (for things like personalized genomics and tissue engineering) and nanotechnology (to facilitate micro-scale interactions and growth through artificial means). Smart computer systems and monitoring devices should also be developed to track the progress of the fetus’s growth, while automatically adjusting for changing conditions.
… unlike a mother, an artificial womb is not susceptible to disease or malnourishment, nor will it be prone to drinking or smoking. And with the assistance of powerful computers, advanced biotech, and even microscopic machines, the gestational process will be further optimized. _io9
George Dvorsky, the author of the above piece, describes the essential components of artificial wombs — the artificial endometrium and the artificial placenta — and links to stories about actual ongoing projects meant to eventually develop artificial wombs.
In the brave new world of multiple genetic parents and artificial wombs, traditional concepts of parenthood itself are likely to be transformed beyond recognition. Certainly the degrees of freedom in creating an a la carte baby are likely to increase significantly, before this revolution reaches an equilibrium.
Modern, educated, high-IQ men and women who want “optimal” children, without the mussy fussiness of marriage or committed relationships, are beginning to demand new approaches to parenthood. Buckle up.
New York Academy of Sciences Annals: The Artificial Womb PDF
More: Once an a la carte designer baby is born and begins integrating into society, he must be trained to navigate the treacherous rapids of institutional indoctrination — if he wants to become fully human. If a parents are not careful, their significant investment in an optimised child can go to rot, if they allow the child to become just another institutionally lobotomised drone.
It is never too late to have a dangerous childhood. But for best results, the younger the better.
Update: Commenter Stephen provides a link to a story describing technologies for growing both sperm and eggs in the laboratory. The American team used embryonic stem cells to generate “artificial” sperm and eggs of mice.
Here is a more recent BBC article describing a Japanese lab’s development of sperm and eggs from skin cells. Baby mice have been created using those techniques.
As these technologies proceed to human application, the possibilities for custom-DNA lab-generated sperm and eggs expand significantly. Babies a la carte, indeed.