WHO BUYS REBORN BABY DOLLS?
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of reborn doll enthusiasts from all over the world these days. Though this art form is relatively new and many people have never even heard of it, the fan base is growing along with the skill and talent of the sculpt artists and reborn artists who create them. There are a few different types of reborn doll buyers who make up the market, with new groups jumping on board every so often.
Art Doll Collectors - These people are a specialized type of art collector; instead of collecting paintings or vases, they buy art dolls and the dolls that they covet these days is the life like baby doll. Reborn doll collectors may buy many dozens of dolls over the course of their lives, sometimes selling one or two for a profit and always looking for the next great baby doll to add to their collection.
Baby Lovers - This group is mainly comprised of women who have raised a family and miss having babies around. Some will have custom baby dolls made by a specialized custom reborn artist who can create a baby doll from a photo of the clients own child. These dolls are called portrait reborns.
Elderly People - The use of baby dolls to comfort very elderly and demented patients in care facilities or at home is not a new idea. However, a few years ago, reborn dolls began to appear in these settings. The quite senile patients are soothed and entertained by holding their ''real babies, singing to them, cuddling them, holding tight to their hearts. I have seen this in action, where my father is being cared for and it truly phenomenal how effective a life like baby doll can be to keep the peace in an often difficult environment.
Children - Most reborn artists will tell you that their reborn art dolls are NOT for kids, but I think they are just trying to communicate that these dolls are fragile and require special care. The cloth and suede bodied dolls can't be bathed like a vinyl store bought baby doll and if they are scratched or dropped, they will be damaged. I would definitely not let a child play with a doll that has blown glass eyes since these are particularly fragile. That said, I think children over the age of six can still enjoy holding and caring for a reborn doll, just like they are capable at that age of caring, under supervision for a real baby. Both of my sons, at age 4 and 5, were caring for and holding their baby sister soon after she was born. Of course you never would leave a baby alone with a child and perhaps the same rules could apply with a reborn doll. I would certainly recommend that little boys and girls be allowed to care for a realistic baby doll in order to develop good caregiver skills. I can absolutely remember the day my maternal instincts began. I was 5 years old, holding my first cloth bodied, life like baby doll that I had gotten for Christmas and I could just feel my heart fill with love and warmth as I cuddled her close. So let's not restrict the kids from benefiting from a reborn doll; a little supervision on the part of the parents will make it all right for a child to hold and care for their own life like baby doll.
Parents Who Have Lost a Child - The death of a baby or child is the most devastating event that can occur in a human's life and no one who has not gone through it can begin to imagine what happens to human heart and mind when a child is lost. This group of people who buy a reborn doll are going through a hell on earth that is so painful that many do not themselves survive. Therapies to help overcome the long and short term pain, fear and trauma are still not really effective. And so millions of agonized people are left to muddle their way through the tears and silence and heart wrenching reality of a baby that has gone; some in childbirth, others to an infant health problem that just could not be solved. Every human on the planet can empathize with this pain; you need only think about losing one of your children to feel the horror of that scenario, so you can imagine the horror of it actually happening to you. I can tell you that mostly there is madness and insanity. The shock and trauma to your mind and heart are so enormous that neither can function at all and so for a time, short or long, you just plain go crazy. But your mind and heart are not the only part of you that is suffers; your physical body is absolutely beside itself with primitive terror and palpable longing to hold your baby safe in your arms again, if only for a moment. This unfulfilled physical, mental and emotional longing is where I believe the reborn doll can be of some help. The surrogate baby doll can be held for hours, days or weeks, tightly and fiercely, until the body, mind and heart can begin to accept the reality of what has happened. Nothing can change that reality, but holding a baby doll can help ease the transition into living the loss of a baby, by providing a physical crutch and a temporary bridge between what was and what is. To some, this may seem crazy, but our humanity is complex and sometimes, aperson will be able to get through a desperate bout of despair, just by holding onto that doll for dear life until the pain subsides.
Would a puppy, kitten or another real baby fill this purpose? NO! You would never expose a real living person or animal to that level of extreme psychic despair it would not be right.
Is the grieving parent being fooled into thinking the doll is their baby? NO! Though this level of grief can cause a high level of temporary insanity, no grieving mothers and fathers who have lost a child are so deluded as to believe that a cloth and vinyl doll is their real baby. The doll is just a surrogate, so that the physical need to hold, babble to and lavish love on the baby that has passed has a physical outlet. The amount of time that the doll will play a part in the healing varies with each individual and can never be judged or predicted. Each individual must be allowed the space and time to process their way through it, using any props or tools that they can find. This is by far the most emotional part of being a reborn artist. Many create custom photo memory dolls for grieving parents and these artists have the hearts of angels; going through the difficult details with parents and being the person who will bring back a tiny representative of the lost baby to people in terrible pain. God Bless all of you.