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Old 01-02-2009, 12:48 PM   #1
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Reborns

I saw this story on GMA this morning, it will be on 20/20 tonight. I did feel very sad for the lady who had seven miscarriages, that was more understandable for me.


Not Child's Play: 'I Feel Like I Have a Real Baby'
Women Open Up About Unique Relationships With Their 'Reborns'
By DEBORAH ROBERTS, GWEN GOWEN and RENA FURUYA

Jan. 2, 2009—

There is almost nothing as miraculous as a newborn baby. And for some women, the desire for a tiny infant never goes away.

To satisfy their yearning, they're turning to so-called "reborns," dolls that are designed to look and feel just like a real newborn baby.

Linda, 49, who asked that her last name be kept private, is one of the few women willing to speak about her relationship with reborns. She says she enjoys taking them out and about with her and comforts them like actual infants.

"It feels like I have a real baby," she said.

Married with no children of her own, Linda says she feels like a mom now that she has reborns.

"I take them out to the park, if I'm walking the dog, and maybe put it in its stroller, or put it in its sling, or hold it in a blanket, and people do think it's real."

Linda even buys them real baby clothes because she says, "They don't fit in doll clothes. You have to buy real baby sizes." Linda admits that her dolls are kind of a substitute for babies and that she especially savors moments when other people think that her reborns are real.

"I guess it would be considered, like, a maternal instinct," she said. "You're, like, all happy and proud, 'cause they're, you know, googling over your baby."

When asked whether she had considered adopting a real baby, Linda said it wasn't the right choice for her.

"It's very difficult to get, you know," she said. "And it's a lot more expensive than buying the little dolls."

On average, Linda spends about $500 for each reborn, which are delivered by mail to her home.

Her first, named Jodi, is from Florida-based doll artist Eve Newsom. "I call my reborns babies," Newsom said. "Because to me, by the time I'm finished, the purpose is to make it a baby."

Reborns: 'Just the Good Part of Motherhood'

Creating the dolls is an elaborate process that begins with vinyl doll parts and glass eyeballs imported from Germany. The blush of newborn skin is created by adding several layers of flesh-colored paint. To seal it, the dolls have to be baked. Their limbs and head are then cooled.

Then Newsom painstakingly microroots more than 20,000 strands of mohair onto the dolls head. The result: an astonishingly lifelike doll that a woman somewhere is yearning for.

"I want to do this and it pleases me and fortunately it pleases thousands of others," said Newsom. "Not just hundreds, but thousands."

For some, the fake babies fill a void. In Newsom's case, it is a void left by having seven miscarriages.

"Not being able to have children. And not having the resources, actually, to adopt," she said. "This was my calling. And now it's my passion. ... My reborns bring me a medium of joy and happiness."

She added that while the reborns "don't reciprocate, exactly," she finds her experience with them to be "very nurturing, it's very cathartic for me."

The reborn phenomenon is a growing trend in the United States and overseas. ABC News went to a reborn convention this summer in Illinois to learn more about the fascination with these dolls.

Lachelle Moore and her husband, Alan, drove nearly four hours to the convention in hopes of bringing home an addition to their already large family that includes grown children and grandchildren.

Lachelle Moore said that she still feels the need for babies who'll never grow up.

"What's so wonderful about reborns is that they're forever babies," she said. "They don't give you any trouble. There's no college tuition, no dirty diapers. & Just the good part of motherhood."

That day, she purchased a reborn called Rachel for $1,400 to add to her collection of 36 dolls.

More Than a Hobby?

Psychiatrist Sue Varma, who teaches at the NYU School of Medicine, believes that for some, collecting reborns is "more than just a hobby."

"Where it may become a problem, [is] if this is used as the only means of social interaction," said Varma. "If it's being used as a prop."

Studies show that when cuddling a real baby, brain chemicals are released that cause a kind of emotional rush.

No one knows if that happens with reborns, but Varma said, "I would not be surprised to learn that if a woman is holding a fake baby, that she would have the same chemical, hormonal reactions as if she was holding a real baby."

Several woman we spoke to called holding the reborns "cuddle therapy."

And when Linda received a new, dark-haired baby from Newsom, she seemed like a mom seeing her child for the first time.

"She's beautiful, oh my God, she's gorgeous!" Linda said.

Some people may think taking a fake baby out in a stroller and buying them real baby clothes is just bizarre, but Linda says it's better than having a "crazy habit" such as "drinking, or something that's going to hurt you."

"It's like a hobby," she said, "and it doesn't really hurt anybody."
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Old 01-02-2009, 01:03 PM   #2
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Sorry, I'm totally weirded out.

Maybe because I have yet to have this urge to procreate a mini-me and parade it around like I'm the first woman to ever give birth.

But then again, I have three dogs and I spend a lot of time and money on them so maybe my urge to nuture something and have it be dependent on me is already satiated.

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Old 01-02-2009, 01:03 PM   #3
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YouTube - reborn dolls

Well it may not be a "crazy habit" like drinking, but it sounds like some of these women are avoiding a much deeper issue...
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Old 01-02-2009, 01:15 PM   #4
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Maybe I'm unqualified to comment, being:

A) Single

B) Male

but, this seems really sad.
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Old 01-02-2009, 01:17 PM   #5
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Maybe I'm unqualified to comment, being:

A) Single

B) Male

but, this seems really sad.
I'm a married male (and also a rational human being), and I also find it sad.
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Old 01-02-2009, 01:20 PM   #6
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I've got to say, I find this sad - not weird, because I can understand why someone so desperate would want to do this - and there are obviously deeper issues these women need to deal with.
If it's providing someone with small comfort and it's not hurting anyone else, then I don't see the problem But at the end of the day I think they might be hurting themselves, somewhat.
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Old 01-02-2009, 01:21 PM   #7
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I should amplify on A:

I guess I meant that I'm not married/not looking to be a single parent, so I'm not in a "I want to raise a child" mindset. You can obviously be single and still raise a child.
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Old 01-02-2009, 01:21 PM   #8
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but Linda says it's better than having a "crazy habit" such as "drinking, or something that's going to hurt you."

"It's like a hobby," she said, "and it doesn't really hurt anybody."


I question Linda's qualification to call my habit "crazy"
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Old 01-02-2009, 01:23 PM   #9
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I question Linda's qualification to call my habit "crazy"
Awwww, you keep thinking that it's a habit.
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Old 01-02-2009, 01:25 PM   #10
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Awwww, you keep thinking that it's a habit.


way of life, whatever - I enjoy it
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Old 01-02-2009, 01:58 PM   #11
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I also feel weirded out.

These women can't spend the rest of their lives carrying around dolls, showing them off to people as though they were real. It sounds like these women like the attention they get when they have a baby in their arms.

And 36 reborn dolls? That's quite a lot.

I do feel sorry for the woman who had seven miscarriages, and obviously some of these women yearn for a baby, and are unable to have them. But like I said, they can't spend the rest of their lives carrying around dolls.
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Old 01-02-2009, 02:04 PM   #12
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Unliving dolls: Women collect fake babies - TODAY: People - MSNBC.com

Oct 1 2008

Cuddly ... or creepy?

Some people find the lifelike dolls downright creepy. But collectors, some of whom treat the dolls as real children, feel there’s nothing unusual about their passionate hobby.

Monica Walsh, a 41-year-old wife and mother of a 2-year-old daughter from Orange County, N.Y., has one doll – “Hayden.” And, yes, she told Lauer, she plays with her doll “the same way a man might make a big train station and play with his train station or play with his sports car, his boat or his motorcycle.”

Fran Sullivan, 62, lives in Florida and has never had children. She brought two reborns to New York, “Robin” and “Nicholas,” and said she has a collection of more than 600 dolls of all kinds, including a number of reborn dolls.

Sullivan told Lauer she rotates her dolls, choosing a new one to care for each day depending on how she feels. She talks to them as she would to an infant, but said it’s really not all that strange.

“Children talk to their dolls, and they express their feelings toward their dolls,” she told Lauer. “And as a 40- or 50- or 60-year-old woman, you do the same thing. You’re still the same person you were when you were an 8-year-old.”

“I have a 2-year-old daughter. I don’t feel that way at all that it replaces her. It’s completely different having a real baby,” Walsh explained. “But I think she’s going to love the fact that I play with dolls. How much fun is it going to be for her?”

Lifelike features

The vinyl dolls don’t just look exactly like real babies — they also feel real. Their bodies are stuffed and weighted to have the same heft and a similar feel to a live baby. Mohair is normally used for the hair and is rooted in the head strand by strand, a process that can take 30 hours. A magnet may be placed inside the mouth to hold a magnetic pacifier.

To add realism, some purchasers opt for a heartbeat and a device that makes the chest rise and fall to simulate breathing.

The dolls are made individually by home-based artisans like Katsaris, who start with a vinyl form that is either purchased or made by the artisan.

The remarkable degree of realism is achieved by dozens of layers of paint, beginning with tiny veins and mottled skin. Each layer of paint is baked on in an oven to make it permanent.

Dolls may be one of a kind, or one of a limited series made from the same mold. Some customers order special dolls that are exact replicas of their own children who died at birth or in infancy. These are individually made from hand-sculpted clay forms made from photographs of the child.

The customers are almost all women. Some buy them because they collect dolls. Others buy them as surrogates for children that were lost or have grown and left the home. Some women dress the dolls, wash their hair, take them for walks in strollers and take them shopping.

They won’t grow up


One woman in the BBC documentary, married and in her 40s, said she wanted a real baby, but was too busy to commit to caring for a real one. A reborn doll satisfies her maternal instincts, she said, without all the carrying on and mess.

Reborns, she said, “never grow out of their clothes, never soil them. It's just fabulous. The only difference, of course, is these guys don't move.”

At least one nursing home in the United Kingdom makes dolls available to female residents, who become calmer and less disruptive when “caring” for their infants.

The dolls have led to some misunderstandings. In the United States and other countries, police smashed the windows of a car to rescue “infants” that had been left in booster seats in parked cars.

Walsh is among those who straps hers into an infant’s seat when she takes it out in her car. “They’re expensive and you gotta protect them. They’re valuable.”

She added that she also may put her doll in a stroller when she’s with her daughter – “for fun.”

Katsaris takes hers out in stroller, but for a different reason: to show them off to potential buyers. Sullivan said she doesn’t take her dolls out in public except to transport them to doll shows. But, she added, when she gets a new one, she shows it off.

“I take my dolls across the street every time I get a new one and show them off to my neighbors,” she told Lauer. “I love to hear them say, ‘Oh, that is such a beautiful doll! It’s such a beautiful baby!’ ”

Sullivan said she, too, talks to her dolls, but she does not carry on conversations with them.

Walsh said her husband doesn’t think it strange that his wife plays with dolls. “He likes them too,” she said. “He says when he holds the baby it makes him feel good. It reminds him of the day his daughter was born. Everybody likes to hold a baby. It makes you feel at peace. It makes you feel calm.”

None of the women apologized for their love of reborn dolls or felt they were doing anything that is unhealthy.

“I don’t really worry too much about what people think about me,” Walsh said. “I just try to make myself happy, and it makes me happy to collect dolls. I feel like a little girl that just never stopped loving dolls.”

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Old 01-02-2009, 02:07 PM   #13
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I can relate to longing for a child and the uncertainty of it ever happening. Can't even imagine the feeling of loss that comes from a miscarriage. Can't say I can relate to taking it down this path though. Although I was never into dolls and pretend play as a kid either.

Coping with grief is such a personal thing. The ongoing hobby of it kinda creeps me out in much the same way that kids beauty pageants creep me out.

Also makes me think about women who dress up in their wedding dresses and watch their wedding videos obsessively after their big day.

All of it sad in different ways.
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Old 01-02-2009, 02:11 PM   #14
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But like I said, they can't spend the rest of their lives carrying around dolls.
At the end of the day - why can't they? I personally wouldn't want to do it, but I just don't see why this is such a big deal. Is it because people can't understand it and therefore have to label it as weird?
They're not hurting anyone and if it makes them happy then what's the problem?
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Old 01-02-2009, 02:12 PM   #15
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Also makes me think about women who dress up in their wedding dresses and watch their wedding videos obsessively after their big day.
Women do that? There are definitely women who are obsessed with all of that to an unhealthy extent. Then comes the realization of who you married and the reality of that marriage..oops. In many cases the two go hand in hand, that's part of the reason for the obsession, I think.

I can understand the fantasy of the dress, but not reliving it more than once. I did try on my mother's when I was a teenager, I knew where she kept it. I never told her.. It was really tight, damn she was skinny then.



What about the husband who likes the dolls too/doesn't think it's strange?
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