“Reborns” – Baby Dolls Being Mothered by Childless Women

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During the ’70s I read a book that advocated Zero Population Growth. Well, to be honest, it wasn’t just advocating ZPG, the authors’ goal seemed to be making readers feel guilty and totally responsible for the disaster that was to come if they actually reproduced. As a mother, I was livid! As a Christian, I saw this book as totally not scriptural, for we were told to replenish the earth by our Creator.

Now the doctrine of Zero Population Growth (ZPG) seems to be on every media, every day. And with Al Gore preaching this doctrine, it is proliferating at a break neck speed.

I sometimes wonder how long it will be until we, like England, are “allowed” to have only two children. Or will we be like China where only one girl is “permitted”?

I’ve known several childless women, and most of them are not happy with their emptiness. Some find outlets and actually work with young children, and that seems to fill some of the void. But a new phenomena has become disturbingly common. A new doll is at the center of this creepy abnormality. The doll is known as a “Reborn” and it’s cost is as much as $4,000. The buyers are not children, but adult women.

These CreepyDoll.jpgReborns are incredibly life like. Their bodies are stuffed and weighted to have the same heft and a similar feel to a live baby. Mohair strands are individually attached to their heads, and they can even come with a heartbeat and a device that makes the chest rise and fall to simulate breathing.

Given the attention to detail, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many owners do not treat “Reborns” like other collectibles such as the Precious Moments figurines, or turtles.

A recent BBC America documentary called “My Fake Baby” showed grown women doing more than playing with the dolls—they were, well, mothering them. They walked them in strollers, they secured them in car seats, and they even had “birthday” parties for them.

Sound familiar? It should. In her novel The Children of Menir?t=survinspitofi-20&l=as2&o=1&a=030727, now a motion picture, Children of Men, P.D. James depicted a world in which no children had been born in two decades, due to a dwindling presence of sperm. The inability to have children had driven many women to treat dolls in exactly the same fashion as these women are treating “Reborns.”

Of course, there are differences. While childlessness had driven the women in James’s novel mad, the “reborn” mommies can—and some do—have real children.

The words most commonly used to describe this phenomenon are “creepy” and “delusional.” One liberal blogger wondered whether she was “supposed to play along with your weird delusion?” After all, “you can drop her down a flight of stairs . . . and no one will call children’s services on you.”

Writer Rod Dreher is even less sympathetic. He calls these women “drag mommies” and says that something is “very wrong with them.”

Well, I have no idea what is going on in the hearts and minds of women who purchase reborns. But I will say this: There is indeed something very wrong with the culture that produces these dolls. Over four years ago, creepy dolls started being marketed to lonely Japanese elderly. The Yumel are “healing partners” designed to fill a void created by children that rarely visit and grandchildren they will never have, thanks to Japan’s disappearing birth rate.

Likewise, “Reborns” are filling a void created by changes in the family structure. The so-called “freedom” we gained by postponing and even forgoing marriage and child-rearing has come at a price—loneliness and the sense that our lives are incomplete.

This isn’t something that can be overcome by conditioning. We are “wired for connection” as one study put it. If the God-ordained means for this connection is tampered with or blocked, that is, by having no children or fewer children as Americans are doing, we will find ways to act on our “wiring,” no matter how creepy they seem to others.

Just Google “Reborns” and see all of the sites (including Amazon) that come up. I don’t know about you, but this creepy phenomena scares me.

(c) 2009 April Lorier

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