By Ron Laytner
SELLING ‘BABIES’ ON E BAY
It was a pretty sight. Marco Valente, his pretty wife Anna and their beloved daughter Ilya, sat smiling in their South Florida home.
“You look like a nice family,” we began.
“But your daughter is not real.”
They nodded reluctantly. The smiling stopped.
Little Ilya, her mother holding her elbow, waved happily like any other good-nature d child…
Marco recovered first. Eyes tearing, he replied: “Well - She is real to us in our hearts.”
Mr. Valente and his wife belong to a strange and growing worldwide network of people, who for various reasons, desperately seek to have children.
Some are just lonely, their children have grown up and moved away, others have had children who died.
Some couples produce their own easy to care for families in this odd and ‘different way.’ While others are just considered eccentric.
Marco and his wife are somewhere in between.
We entered Anna’s production nursery. It seemed at first a scene from a scary movie. A working desk was covered with little unattached baby arms and legs pointing in all directions.
Nearby were unpainted heads with staring eyeless sockets. And down on the desk beside them were their missing multicolored eyes. Dramatic emails from all over the world were on the walls above a fax machine. And various buckets held artists brushes and tubes of paint.
How did this Brazilian couple reach the point of making and supplying imitation children to a powerful growing new world market based on longing and love?
It all began when Anna was a child: Said Marco. “My wife came from a poor family in Nova Fiburgo, 85 miles from Rio de Janeiro. Her father died when she was just 5-years-old and her mother had no money to buy their children any toys or dolls.
"So Anna, when she was nine, decided to make her own dolls. She made her own first rag doll and asked her sister to make its clothing. Her sister wouldn’t teacher her how. So she set out on her own.”
From the beginning she started to make what she called ‘new reborns”. She did it for years and continued even after meeting and marrying Marco.
“When we moved to America a couple of years ago my wife realized that she could learn the craft and start making her own reborn babies for people around the world. We chose E bay and we’ve been very successful. The prices on E Bay start at $99 and then become an auction. Dolls like ours sell for up to $4,000.
Why do people buy these dolls?
Said Marco, “Because people want to have a life. They want to care and give love. Many people can’t have kids and cannot have real children. The dolls are a great substitute.”
As soon as Marco put their latest baby doll, Madison, on E bay, a lady in Australia answered.
“Madison must have broken her heart,” reasoned Marco. “She wanted to buy her immediately but couldn’t afford her.
"The Australian lady loved her from the start. She prepared and painted a child’s room for Madison, decorated its walls with child posters and bought a baby carriage and stroller.”
She filled the room with toys and assured the Valente’s she would take Madison for a walk in a nearby park just as soon as she arrived.
Marco and his wife made arrangements for her to pay for their little girl in a series of payments. “But she became so anxious she may have borrowed the money because she sent the entire purchase price all at once.”
Anna added, “Soon we had Madison flying on her way to Australia. It was like sending our own child away forever. I take tremendous pride in each baby doll I reborn. We both cried when Madison left.”
After a long ten days and more than 9,000 miles of travel, Madison found a very caring mother in Australia.
When Madison arrived in Sydney her new mother emailed, ”Madison is really tired. She needs a good sleep before we can go to the park.” Another email reported she was taking Madison all around Sydney visiting friends and showing her off.
How can you make sure your baby dolls go to a good home?
“We exchange e-mails to get to know the new parents. We don’t sell our babies to people that seem crazy or bad."
The hardest work in making a reborn doll for Anna is getting their skin color right.
“I use special paint that goes on the baby when she is put into my kitchen oven. I bake on the paint one layer at a time, says Anna. The most important thing is the baby needs to look real.
“My happiest moment is when the baby begins to come to life. Later, I root in her hair with a fine needle, one hair at a time, until the results are perfect. I make every single piece of clothing until the baby looks proud.”
Anna will go on making little dolls for the rest of her live, happy she has found exactly what she most likes to do. But what of the future?
We live now at a time of emerging technology when robots are finally coming of age. Recently breast-feeding dolls have been introduced and are spreading out from South America.
It’s not difficult to picture a not too distant future in which soft-skinned imitation computer-driven children, that think, respond, talk and give out love will be manufactured and distributed by the millions…
And the human race will start to shrink because of kind souls like Marco and Anna.
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