Experience: If you type “désir d’enfant” (“child’s desire”) on Google, you will instantly come across a website of the same name, announcing a “Free Fair for Parenthood and Fertility”  on 4 and 5 September 2021 in Paris. Against the background of the blue-grey gaze of an exquisite baby, you can read: “Specialists, advisers, products, reliable information and support to help you found or expand your family” all gathered in one place. This is followed by the logos of the many organisms that sponsor and invest in this fair towards candidates for “parenthood”: from specialised clinics in assisted reproductive technology to laboratories selling fertilising products, from sperm banks to egg donation clinics. It is noted that the fair is “purely informative and non-commercial”, a statement in the form of denial that presides over this list of partners, from which an association that proposed coaching in “parental project” by videoconference recently disappeared.
This is a first in its kind in France. Is this one more step, taken by the strange desire for a child? This desire, that used to be enigmatic has suddenly become a right. The weight of religion has always designated it as a duty. Capitalist society, fueled by the rampant progress in scientific techniques, transforms it into a right to have. As Dominique Laurent notes in her preface to the work of our colleague Catherine Vacher-Vitasse “the child projected by these techniques has become not only a desire object (objet de désir), but also that of a legally admissible demand from medical authorities if the desire is hindered by nature . She adds that one can expect to see an increase in claims for “Pre-Implantation Diagnosis” (PIR) to choose the sex of the child, or the selection of gametes for assumed performance as is the case in many countries considering the child produced as in a market economy .
Procreation, says C. Vacher-Vitasse, “does not mean desire for a child, even if confusion is maintained in the centres of medical assistance for procreation”  and her book Énigme du corps féminin et désir d’enfant, gives us many striking clinical moments, delicately collected, and enlightening us on the question posed by the PIPOL Congress.
The child as from the birth of psychoanalysis, has been recognised by Freud as articulated to the feminine desire. He says that for some women “in the child which they bear, a part of their own body confronts them like an extraneous object, to which, starting out from their narcissism, they can give complete object-love” . The child is already offered as a narcissistic trap in 1914 and our modern age does not mitigate this in any way, as the agonies of narcissism have spread in many forms.
The desire for a child, like all desires, includes a part of enigma. Why does it suddenly emerge? Why now? Why with this partner? Or without one? What does it promise to us? This Parisian event titled “Désir d’Enfant” (“Desire for Child”) promises to erase these abounding questions by replacing them by one only: how to make? It tries to solve the question of desire, albeit promoted in the title, as a desire uncontaminated by the slightest doubt, which is more a matter of project than of desire strictly speaking, as a “desire in kit”. The child, the baby, then becomes the trap representation of all feverish expectations, giving consistency to an ideal, perfect object, which would come at the right time.
The techniques are not to be incriminated here, but perhaps we can question the purpose of this highway of information that constitutes this fair for parents in the making…
Nowadays, the child are more seldom an “accident”, but rather a deliberate effect, in our rich societies transformed by the progress of science. A happy mutation or a disturbing modernity? Probably neither the former nor the latter… Each parlêtre (speaking being), whether he arrived in the world by a stork or whether his personal prehistory is lodged in an ice alveolus, will occasionally question the desire that presided over his coming into the world and how this desire has extended its shadow over his own…
Translated by Bogdan Wolf
Proofreading: Nadège Creusot
Photography: ©Béatrice Pettiaux
 Salon gratuit de la Parentalité et de la Fertilité.
 C. Vacher-Vitasse. Énigme du corps féminin et désir d’enfant, Nîmes, Champ social Éditions, 2018, p. 16.
 Ibid, p. 18-19.
 Ibid, p. 88.
 Freud, “On Narcissism: An Introduction”, 1914, trans. J. Strachey, SE Vol 14, p. 89-90.