Four kids and two grandchildren weren’t enough for Wendy Archer, a 40-year-old who has turned to collecting realistic dolls to ease her empty nest syndrome.
Archer underwent a tubal ligation after her fourth child, a surgery that “ties the [fallopian] tubes,” rendering her sterile. Shortly after the surgery, Archer regretted the decision, longing once again to have children. She turned to highly realistic dolls, referred to as “reborns,” which are designed specifically to look like real babies, complete with detailed accessories to truly capture the essence of a real child. It's a truly artistic process to manufacture these dolls, often complete with real-looking hair and skin. Most of the people who purchase these dolls are older women who have undergone an abortion, miscarriage, or empty nest syndrome; holding and taking care of the dolls is therapeutic for them.
People pay a high price for these highly realistic dolls; they can be purchased online for hundreds of dollars. Archer spent over $3,000 in creating babies and providing them with clothes, Moses baskets, and even car seats. Online, purchasers can create custom infants, or pick up a child — already named, dressed, and primed — for adoption.
“I just love babies,” Archer told the Daily Mail. “[T]o me they aren’t dolls, they are my babies. They are beautiful and I truly love them. I couldn’t be without them now and they even smell like real babies.” She has named the fake children Johnson, Elisha, Shyan, and Thomas.
Archer’s desire to take care of fake babies stemmed from her empty nest syndrome, as her kids have nearly all grown up now — she has a 22-year-old, a 15-year-old, and a 13-year-old. “I love all of my children and my grandchildren, but my children have lives of their own now, and my grandchildren go home at the end of the day,” Archer told the Daily Mail. Now she spends hours every day dressing and doting over her four reborns.
Archer told the Daily Mail:
I have beds, and Moses baskets for each of them, and they take it in turns to sleep in the crib in my room. Every evening I change them into their pajamas and tuck them into bed and every day I change them, give them fresh nappies and put them in their day clothes. I know some people might think I'm mad but so many of my friends have been amazed by how happy the dolls can make people. When you cuddle them, they feel like a baby, because their heads lull and they even smell like a real baby, because of the fabric softener their clothes are washed in. It is truly amazing.
Despite people thinking her habit is strange, Archer is happy: “I know people are a bit wary of the dolls or think it is a bit mad, but the comfort I get from them makes my life,” she said.